Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The idea for a rowing race between the Universities of Oxford (rowing’s Duke) and Cambridge (rowing’s UNC) came from two friends - Charles Merivale, a student at Cambridge, and his Harrow schoolfriend Charles Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth), who was at Oxford. (They died hating each other…just kidding.)

On 12 March 1829, Cambridge sent a challenge to Oxford and thus the tradition was born which has continued to the present day, where the loser of the previous year’s race challenges the opposition to a re-match.

The Modern Boat Race still runs along the same lines, but has now become a major international sporting occasion drawing millions of viewers from around the world. To show you how modern the Brits are, it’s even sponsored by Xchanging.

According to “Xchanging is a fast-growing, international, pure play business process outsourcing company, with blue-chip customers. Xchanging provides complex processing to the banking and insurance industries and procurement, finance and accounting and human resources services to customers across industries.” Now that is major event quality PR talk if you ask us.

On Race Day up to 250,000 spectators crowd the banks of the Thames from Putney to Mortlake to witness the action.

Cambridge leads the series since 1829 by 79-73. (Just like Carolina leads Duke.) Cambridge won the most recent encounter (2007) but Oxford won the previous two encounters (2005 and 2006). The 154th Boat Race takes place Saturday, March 29th 2008 at 5.15pm local time.
Oxford goes into this weekend’s Boat Race as the heavier of the two crews, although Cambridge remain favorites with the bookmakers to make it two wins in a row. At the official Weigh-In yesterday at The Hurlingham Club in Fulham, the Oxford Blue boat crew weighed in at 786.6 kilograms, excluding the cox – some 43.2 kilograms heavier than their Light Blue rivals at 743.4 kilograms. (Huh?)

The heaviest individual on either boat is 23-year-old Australian Toby Medaris at 102.6 kg (16 stone 2lbs). He occupies the No.2 seat in the Oxford boat and is studying for an MSc in Management Research at Kellogg College (where they invented Corn Flakes).

He is just fraction heavier than his fellow crew member, American Aaron Marcovy (102kg) who is studying Fine Art at St Edmund Hall. Aaron, from Cleveland, Ohio, is one of four American oarsmen in the Oxford boat. The others are former Olympian and world champion Michael Wherley (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin), Charles Cole (Connecticut) and stroke William England (Marblehead, MA). The sole American in the Cambridge boat is stroke Shane O’Mara from Tampa, Florida.

The heaviest Light Blue is Peter Marsland, from Chiswick who weighed in at 101.8 kg. Peter, 23, is at No.5 in the Cambridge boat and studying Environmental Policy at Clare Hall.
As you can see from the photos the sport has some diversity issues, and all the dudes look like extras from A Christmas Carol.

TOP: 2007 - Photo courtesy of

MIDDLE RIGHT: Oxford University rowing team (from L to R) Jan Herzog, Toby Medaris, Ben Smith, Aaron Marcovy, Nicholas Brodie, Michael Wherley, Oliver Moore, Charles Cole and William England pose for a team photograph.

MIDDLE LEFT: Oxford University and Cambridge University boat race crews pose for a group photograph following the official weigh-in ahead of the Oxford versus Cambridge boat race on the River Thames, in London

BOTTOM RIGHT: Cambridge University rowing team (from L to R) Colin Scott, Tim Perkins, Henry Pelly, Tobias Garnett, Rebecca Dowbiggin, Peter Marsland, Tom Edwards, Tom Ransley and Shane O'Mara pose for a team photograph.

(Photos by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

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