Oxford and Cambridge Trial Eights roundup

Across the eight races – for Oxford and Cambridge, women and men, openweight and lightweight – the Cambridge openweight women produced by far the most exciting contest, with the lead changing hands several times and only by the smallest of margins.

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The traditional December trials races, at the end of the first term of the academic year – half way through that year’s campaign for each squad – are the only opportunity the crews have to race the full Championships course under the gaze of their official race umpires before the Boat Race in March 2023.

The Gemini Boat Race 2023 trials races

Oxford women

Oxford University Women’s BC chose the names Athena and Artemis for the two crews competing in their Trial Eights race on Sunday, 11 December. Legend has it that the two goddesses from Greek mythology were sometimes at odds and would support different sides of battles between mortals.

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OUWBC Trial Eights 2022: Artemis vs Athena

Athena (blue sleeves)Artemis (white sleeves)
Bow: Phoebe Mountain (Merton)
2: Jennifer Astley (Balliol)
3: Greta Miller (St Cross)
4: Esther Austin (St Anne’s)
5: Alison Carrington (Hertford)
6: Freya Willis (Magdalen)
7: Sarah Marshall (Jesus)
Stroke: Maria Nielsen-Scott (Exeter)
Cox: Tara Slade (St Peter’s)
Bow: Sophie Kamhi (Mansfield)
2: Kate Friesen (Christ Church)
3: Laurel Kaye (Worcester)
4: Ella Stadler (Exeter)
5: Helen Nielsen-Scott (St Catherine’s)
6: Claire Aitken (Oriel)
7: Sara Helin (St Peter’s)
Stroke: Juliet Russell (Christ Church)
Cox: Alannah Burdess (Trinity)
Athena (blue sleeves):
Bow: Phoebe Mountain (Merton)
2: Jennifer Astley (Balliol)
3: Greta Miller (St Cross)
4: Esther Austin (St Anne’s)
5: Alison Carrington (Hertford)
6: Freya Willis (Magdalen)
7: Sarah Marshall (Jesus)
Stroke: Maria Nielsen-Scott (Exeter)
Cox: Tara Slade (St Peter’s)
Artemis (white sleeves):
Bow: Sophie Kamhi (Mansfield)
2: Kate Friesen (Christ Church)
3: Laurel Kaye (Worcester)
4: Ella Stadler (Exeter)
5: Helen Nielsen-Scott (St Catherine’s)
6: Claire Aitken (Oriel)
7: Sara Helin (St Peter’s)
Stroke: Juliet Russell (Christ Church)
Cox: Alannah Burdess (Trinity)

Athena won convincingly. Watch the race here:

Oxford men

The two crews for the OUBC Trial Eights on Sunday, 11 December were named Beetle and Wedge, after a restaurant on the Wallingford stretch of the Thames where they train, which serves as a landmark from which pieces are often timed.

Oxford men's trial eights 2022

Beetle (blue sleeves) Wedge (white sleeves)
Bow: William Loosley (St Edmund Hall)
2: Colson Andrews (Oriel)
3: Alfred Orpin (St Catherine’s)
4: Johnny Davidson (St Catherine’s)
5: Jan Ole Ernst (Wolfson)
6: Tom Sharrock (Magdalen)
7: Tassilo von Mueller (Hertford)
Stroke: Alex Bebb (St Peter’s)
Cox: Louis Corrigan (Wadham)
Bow: Andrew Wakefield (Green Templeton)
2: Andy Bridger (University)
3: Nick Elkington (Linacre)
4: Anthony Kenny (Merton)
5: James Doran (Oriel)
6: Harry Amad (Oriel)
7: James Forward (Pembroke)
Stroke: Jean-Philippe Dufour (Lincoln)
Cox: Tobias Bernard (Magdalen)
Beetle (blue sleeves) :
Bow: William Loosley (St Edmund Hall)
2: Colson Andrews (Oriel)
3: Alfred Orpin (St Catherine’s)
4: Johnny Davidson (St Catherine’s)
5: Jan Ole Ernst (Wolfson)
6: Tom Sharrock (Magdalen)
7: Tassilo von Mueller (Hertford)
Stroke: Alex Bebb (St Peter’s)
Cox: Louis Corrigan (Wadham)
Wedge (white sleeves):
Bow: Andrew Wakefield (Green Templeton)
2: Andy Bridger (University)
3: Nick Elkington (Linacre)
4: Anthony Kenny (Merton)
5: James Doran (Oriel)
6: Harry Amad (Oriel)
7: James Forward (Pembroke)
Stroke: Jean-Philippe Dufour (Lincoln)
Cox: Tobias Bernard (Magdalen)

Wedge established a small lead soon off the start, which they extended when the crews had a substantial clash near the Mile Post, from which Beetle lost about half a length. By Hammersmith Bridge, Wedge had three quarters of a length lead but Beetle fought back around the outside of the long Surrey bend, suggesting that they were actually the faster crew. They moved ahead to a lead of about three quarters of a length by the crossing point before the bandstand but despite Umpire Tony Reynolds constantly warning both coxes, the crews had another major clash, which caused Wedge’s bowman Andrew Wakefield to catch an over the head crab. Beetle rowed away with what was now a clear water lead, which they maintained to the end.

Watch how the race unfolded here:

Cambridge women

Taking place on Monday, 12 December, CUBC women named their crews after two of the world’s greatest footballers: Megan Rapinoe (USA) and Beth Mead (England). Both are inspirational and huge advocates for women’s sport.

Cambridge women's trial eights 2022

RapinoeMead
Bow: Gemma King (St John’s)
2: Molly Foxell (Pembroke)
3: Iris Powell (Churchill)
4: Carys Earl (Caius)
5: Freya Keto (St Edmund’s)
6: Isabelle Bastian (Jesus)
7: Carina Graf (Emmanuel)
Stroke: Rosa Millard (Trinity Hall)
Cox: Kate Crowley (Sidney Sussex)
Bow: Vera Kunz (Caius)
2: Janeska de Jonge (King’s)
3: Hanna Prince (Newnham)
4: Alex Riddell-Webster (Murray Edwards)
5: Jenna Armstrong (Jesus)
6: Clare Hole (St Catharines)
7: Caoimhe Dempsey (Newnham)
Stroke: Claire Brillon (Fitzwilliam)
Cox: Sam Clark (Hughes Hall)
Rapinoe:
Bow: Gemma King (St John’s)
2: Molly Foxell (Pembroke)
3: Iris Powell (Churchill)
4: Carys Earl (Caius)
5: Freya Keto (St Edmund’s)
6: Isabelle Bastian (Jesus)
7: Carina Graf (Emmanuel)
Stroke: Rosa Millard (Trinity Hall)
Cox: Kate Crowley (Sidney Sussex)
Mead:
Bow: Vera Kunz (Caius)
2: Janeska de Jonge (King’s)
3: Hanna Prince (Newnham)
4: Alex Riddell-Webster (Murray Edwards)
5: Jenna Armstrong (Jesus)
6: Clare Hole (St Catharines)
7: Caoimhe Dempsey (Newnham)
Stroke: Claire Brillon (Fitzwilliam)
Cox: Sam Clark (Hughes Hall)

It was fitting that crews named for a two of the world’s leading female athletes provided the closest finish in Trial Eights history.

Racing on Middlesex, Mead, stroked by Canadian senior international Claire Brillon, took a half length lead along the moored boats, leading into the Fulham bend. Rapinoe, stroked by Lightweight Blue Rosa Millard, held their own around the bend, and pushed along Corney Reach. Leading

into Hammersmith, Mead moved to three quarters of a length length lead, but Rapinoe took advantage of the inside of the bend and three points of rate to move up and challenge for the lead. Pushing ahead past the Dove, Mead was warned for steering, and after a series of blade clashes, Mead suffered a boat stopping crab.

Umpire Matt Smith took the decision to re-start the race at Chiswick Eyot, giving both crews the opportunity to finish out the race. The decision was vindicated, Mead taking a good start to move to the lead after the re-start, but chased past Chiswick Steps by Rapinoe. Shooting Barnes Bridge half a length ahead, Mead took the inside, but Rapinoe were not to be denied, increasing the rate and pushing level as the crews passed Duke’s Meadows.

Mead was equal to the challenge, and the race was decided by a margin so close that the crews were unable to tell who had won. Six inches to Rapinoe! Given that the coaches had sought to select matched crews, it’s surely they who were the outright winners from this fantastic race.

Cambridge men

The CUBC men’s Trial Eights crews, who raced on 12 December were a polarisation of ‘youth’ and ‘experience’, noting their mix of graduates and undergraduates. President Ollie Boyne coxed Experience, while Women’s Boat Race Blue Jasper Parish coxed Youth.

CUBC men's trial eights 2022

YouthExperience
Bow: Luke Beever (Emmanuel)
2: Alex Gillespie (Selwyn)
3: Dan Toy (Caius)
4: Reef Boericke (Girton)
5: Noam Mouelle (Hughes Hall)
6: Brett Taylor (Queens’)
7: Ollie Parish (Peterhouse)
Stroke: Luca Ferraro (King’s)
Cox: Jasper Parish (Clare)
Bow: George Hawskwell (Caius)
2: Orlando Morley (Girton)
3: Tom Marsh (LMBC)
4: Matt Edge (St Catharine’s)
5: Seb Benzecry (Jesus)
6: Tom Lynch (Hughes Hall)
7: Nick Mayhew (Peterhouse)
Stroke: Cameron Spiers (Downing)
Cox: Ollie Boyne (Downing)
Youth:
Bow: Luke Beever (Emmanuel)
2: Alex Gillespie (Selwyn)
3: Dan Toy (Caius)
4: Reef Boericke (Girton)
5: Noam Mouelle (Hughes Hall)
6: Brett Taylor (Queens’)
7: Ollie Parish (Peterhouse)
Stroke: Luca Ferraro (King’s)
Cox: Jasper Parish (Clare)
Experience:
Bow: George Hawskwell (Caius)
2: Orlando Morley (Girton)
3: Tom Marsh (LMBC)
4: Matt Edge (St Catharine’s)
5: Seb Benzecry (Jesus)
6: Tom Lynch (Hughes Hall)
7: Nick Mayhew (Peterhouse)
Stroke: Cameron Spiers (Downing)
Cox: Ollie Boyne (Downing)

Within a minute, both crews were keeping umpire Tony Reynolds busy, but around the Fulham bend Youth took a lead on their inside bend. Coming to Harrods, Experience showed, pushing back and challenging to maintain their inside station. Shooting Hammersmith Bridge, both crews were challenging for the lead, and it took until the Blue Doors for Youth to draw out a half length lead.

Up to Chiswick Steps, Matt Edge drove Experience along, making sure that they did not lose contact leading into the outside of the last bend. Experience pushed and clawed on the outside of the bend, making ground on their Youth-ful colleagues. The race was not, however, long enough for them to make up the margin as Youth took an exuberant third of a length win over Experience, another result to the credit of the light blue coaches who had tried hard to select matched crews.

Lightweight trials races, sponsored by Interactive Investor

Oxford lightweight women

The two Oxford Lightweight Women’s Trial Eights who raced on 5 December were called Swan and Castle, a battle of unstoppable force vs immovable object, with inspiration from the squad’s second favourite Wetherspoon’s in Oxford.

OUWLRC Trial Eights 2022
Swan (white sleeves)Castle (blue sleeves)
Bow: JoJo Blyth (Wadham)
2: Bea Vernon (Oriel)
3: Sylvia Gattas (Wolfson)
4: Lauren Keane (Somerville)
5: Ella Williams (Brasenose)
6: Harriet Thomas (Hertford)* sub for Rosie Lynch (Green Templeton)
7: Indigo Buckler (St Hugh’s)
Stroke: Molly Cressey-Rogers (Jesus)
Cox: Victoria Fletcher (Exeter)
Bow: Rosie Thorogood (Somerville)
2: Hazel Wake* (St Edmund Hall)
3: Bessie O’Dell (Kellogg)
4: Angelina Hong (Corpus Christi)
5: Georgia Stonadge (Exeter)
6: Polina Danilina (Lincoln)
7: Katie Wellstead (St Edmund Hall)
Stroke: Abby Robinson (St Peter’s)
Cox: Katherine Ferris (St Hilda’s)
Swan (white sleeves):
Bow: JoJo Blyth (Wadham)
2: Bea Vernon (Oriel)
3: Sylvia Gattas (Wolfson)
4: Lauren Keane (Somerville)
5: Ella Williams (Brasenose)
6: Harriet Thomas (Hertford)* sub for Rosie Lynch (Green Templeton)
7: Indigo Buckler (St Hugh’s)
Stroke: Molly Cressey-Rogers (Jesus)
Cox: Victoria Fletcher (Exeter)
Castle (blue sleeves):
Bow: Rosie Thorogood (Somerville)
2: Hazel Wake* (St Edmund Hall)
3: Bessie O’Dell (Kellogg)
4: Angelina Hong (Corpus Christi)
5: Georgia Stonadge (Exeter)
6: Polina Danilina (Lincoln)
7: Katie Wellstead (St Edmund Hall)
Stroke: Abby Robinson (St Peter’s)
Cox: Katherine Ferris (St Hilda’s)

* Non-trialling sub (OUWLRC 2022).

Castle beat Swan by 40 seconds with a verdict of 12 lengths.

Oxford lightweight men

Oxford University Lightweight RC’s Trial Eights on Monday, 5 December involved a full simulation of their future boat race day, including a weigh-in in the morning. The race was umpired by Ciaran Hayes, assisted by Matthew Holland and Sarah Langslow, all from The Boat Race umpiring team.

The crews were named Atlanta and Paris after the Olympic host cities for the first and last Games to include lightweight events in the rowing programme.

OULRC trial eights race 2022

Preparation for the race was impacted by illness and injury, leaving one crew only a week of training before the event. However, this was overcome with a good weekend of Tideway preparation from which the crews emerged looking well matched for a close race over the course.

With additional time together in the boat, Atlanta proved fastest off the start, moving to a two seat lead within the first 20 strokes. But the crews then came together along Putney, resulting in a clash of blades. Paris came off second best during the clash, taking a number of strokes to reset and get the boat back up to speed. By this time, Atlanta had managed to move out to a two length lead.

Paris attempted to mount a comeback, however Atlanta continued to use the momentum to their advantage and pushed the lead out to five lengths by Hammersmith Bridge. They maintained a five to six length lead for the remainder of the race; although Paris re-established their rhythm, it was not enough to claw back any of the lead, as Atlanta had sensed victory. In control of the race, they strode out to the line, finishing with a verdict of five and a half lengths.

Atlanta (white sleeves)Paris (blue sleeves)
Bow: Andrew McMahon (Wolfson)
2: Ben Beechener (Keble)
3: Oscar Williams (Corpus Christi)
4: James Mason (St Hugh’s)
5: Sam Baker (Balliol)
6: Matt Hudson (University)
7: Harrison Kieffer(Kellogg)
Stroke: Alec Berry (Balliol)
Cox: Nik Baya (Pembroke)
Bow: Tom Wagstaff (St Catherine’s)
2: James Clark (Christ Church)
3: Dewi Gould(Balliol)
4: Adam Pattenden (St Edmund Hall)
5: Luke Gribbin (St Hilda’s)
6: Matt Lees (Magdalen)
7: Olly Featherstone (Oriel)
Stroke: Zac Abel (St Catherine’s)
Cox: Rollo Orme (Lincoln)
Atlanta (white sleeves):
Bow: Andrew McMahon (Wolfson)
2: Ben Beechener (Keble)
3: Oscar Williams (Corpus Christi)
4: James Mason (St Hugh’s)
5: Sam Baker (Balliol)
6: Matt Hudson (University)
7: Harrison Kieffer(Kellogg)
Stroke: Alec Berry (Balliol)
Cox: Nik Baya (Pembroke)
Paris (blue sleeves):
Bow: Tom Wagstaff (St Catherine’s)
2: James Clark (Christ Church)
3: Dewi Gould(Balliol)
4: Adam Pattenden (St Edmund Hall)
5: Luke Gribbin (St Hilda’s)
6: Matt Lees (Magdalen)
7: Olly Featherstone (Oriel)
Stroke: Zac Abel (St Catherine’s)
Cox: Rollo Orme (Lincoln)
Cambridge lightweight women

The two crews for the Cambridge Lightweight Women’s Trial Eights on Sunday, 11 December were called Shrek and Donkey. These characters in the popular cartoon films are best friends and sometimes rivals, but both are determined and tenacious when it comes to fighting for what matters most. The names represent how the boats in Trial Eights egg each other on.

Cambridge lightweight women's trial eights

Shrek was CUBC’s selected lightweight crew, and Donkey a mixed lightweight/openweight crew (openweights denoted by * below).

Shrek (cox in green)Donkey (cox in blue)
Bow: Annabel Cardno (Emmanuel)
2: Beth Merrifield (Homerton)
3: Madeline Jackson (St Edmund’s)
4: Olivia Alliott (Jesus)
5: Katy Hempson (Christ’s)
6: Livia Lisi Vega (Downing)
7: Lauren Britten (Magdalene)
Stroke: Gemma Swan (Emmanuel)
Cox: Shaun Wilson (Magdalene)
Bow: Maria Victoria Noci (Newnham)
2: Daphne Martin (Clare)
3: Florence Bradshaw* (Newnham)
4: Emily Morbey* (Selwyn)
5: Beanie Spain* (Queens’)
6: Lucy Havard* (Caius)
7: Beth Taylor* (Newnham)
Stroke: Nicole Wotania* (Churchill)
Cox: James Trotman (Sidney Sussex)
Shrek (cox in green):
Bow: Annabel Cardno (Emmanuel)
2: Beth Merrifield (Homerton)
3: Madeline Jackson (St Edmund’s)
4: Olivia Alliott (Jesus)
5: Katy Hempson (Christ’s)
6: Livia Lisi Vega (Downing)
7: Lauren Britten (Magdalene)
Stroke: Gemma Swan (Emmanuel)
Cox: Shaun Wilson (Magdalene)
Donkey (cox in blue):
Bow: Maria Victoria Noci (Newnham)
2: Daphne Martin (Clare)
3: Florence Bradshaw* (Newnham)
4: Emily Morbey* (Selwyn)
5: Beanie Spain* (Queens’)
6: Lucy Havard* (Caius)
7: Beth Taylor* (Newnham)
Stroke: Nicole Wotania* (Churchill)
Cox: James Trotman (Sidney Sussex)

Shrek and Donkey famously egged each other on to competition in their series, and their namesakes lived up to their intent.

Shrek’s lightweight crew took a slight lead along the moored boats, but their mixed weight opponents were up to the task, challenging along Corney Reach. Shrek’s combination told towards Hammersmith, opening up clear water and extending that along past St Paul’s.

Donkey fought to come back, but Shrek were able to impose their dominance on the race, taking a 35 second win.

Assistant Coach Autumn Mantell said, “I’m very impressed by the development of both crews in the last fortnight. They have both picked up significant speed and made great technical strides.”

Cambridge lightweight men

The two Cambridge Lightweight Men’s Trial Eights took place on Monday, 12 December between CUBC’s women’s and men’s openweight races.

The crews were named Stirling and Mayne after two of the founding members of the SAS, David Stirling and Paddy Mayne, who allegedly kept score between them of their various actions, competing to see whose squad would be the most effective. Both crews drew inspiration from their deeds.

CUBC lightweight men trials race 2022

Stirling was a mixed lightweight/openweight crew (openweight denoted by * below).

Stirling (black shirts) Mayne (pink shirts)
Bow: Matt Francis (Caius) sub for Emile Czernuszka (Homerton)
2: Rian Howe (Downing)
3: Tom Stell (Caius)
4: Cameron Mackenzie* (Caius)
5: Thomas Heppel (St Catharine’s)
6: Jack Saville (King’s)
7: Gianluca Maffi (Downing)
Stroke: Lewis Grey (St. Catharine’s)
Cox: Tteja Senthilnathan (Girton)
Bow: Hamish Elder (Pembroke)
2: Sam Clarke (Magdalene)
3: Sam Taylor (Clare)
4: Nikita Žoglo (Homerton) sub for John Hayton (St Catharine’s)
5: Harry Fieldhouse (LMBC)
6: Gianluca Vartan (Homerton)
7: Joe Holey (St. Catharine’s)
Stroke: Ben Jones (Magdalene)
Cox: Gregoire Denjean (Emmanuel)
Stirling (black shirts) :
Bow: Matt Francis (Caius) sub for Emile Czernuszka (Homerton)
2: Rian Howe (Downing)
3: Tom Stell (Caius)
4: Cameron Mackenzie* (Caius)
5: Thomas Heppel (St Catharine’s)
6: Jack Saville (King’s)
7: Gianluca Maffi (Downing)
Stroke: Lewis Grey (St. Catharine’s)
Cox: Tteja Senthilnathan (Girton)
Mayne (pink shirts):
Bow: Hamish Elder (Pembroke)
2: Sam Clarke (Magdalene)
3: Sam Taylor (Clare)
4: Nikita Žoglo (Homerton) sub for John Hayton (St Catharine’s)
5: Harry Fieldhouse (LMBC)
6: Gianluca Vartan (Homerton)
7: Joe Holey (St. Catharine’s)
Stroke: Ben Jones (Magdalene)
Cox: Gregoire Denjean (Emmanuel)

A close race along the moored boats off the start promised an enthralling race, and the crews did not disappoint. Stirling was able to eke out a small lead up to Hammersmith Bridge, and inch by inch pushed out to a length at Barnes, but had not been able to establish clear water. That changed in the last three minutes, as Stirling pushed out to a two length lead by the time the crews passed the finish post. Lightweight Coach Nick Acock was satisfied with the effort of both crews, noting that their efforts augured well for the the fixtures and races ahead.

Me4n's eights congratulating each other

Photos: Nordin Ćatić

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