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Oxford Uni Squad to Tackle Waikato Uni Great Race

Experienced Oxford University squad named to tackle Waikato University in Great Race

Britain’s Oxford University has announced a highly experienced crew to tackle the Gallagher Boathouse 8s champions Waikato University in the Great Race in Hamilton on September 7.

Oxford’s 10-member crew contains four rowers and the coxswain who beat Cambridge University in the 149th annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race earlier this year by the closest margin ever recorded.

The remaining five Oxford crew members are experienced international rowers at age group level and were in the Oxford reserve crew of Isis for the 149th Boat Race.

Oxford coach Derek Clark hopes the NZ experience will give his crew a head start in the build-up to the 150th Boat Race in 2004.

“Knowing that we will be racing a top class crew at the start of September has provided [us] with a real focus. We are hoping that this camp will give us a head start on the path to victory next March.” The skill of the Oxford and Waikato coxswains is expected to be one of the keys to success in this year’s race.

Oxford says it’s very fortunate to have the highly experienced Acer Nethercott, a three-time champion on the Thames course, as its cox, with 2003 being his first race in charge of the top Oxford crew.

Waikato has retained the services of experienced international coxswain Rachel Goudie from last year. She’s tipped to be the secret weapon for the home crew with her extensive river knowledge.

“A great coxswain is as valuable as a talented rower,” says Rob Hamill from race organisers Boathouse Events. “Rachel contributes to the crew through her ability to perfect the rowers’ movement in the boat and her extensive experience and knowledge of the Waikato River. She knows the River’s current patterns and on race day that will be a distinct advantage.”

The Waikato team is currently working hard in the build-up to September 7. Assisting preparation is the local crew’s ability to train in the rowing boat it will be using on race day. The purpose built boat, and a second similar one to be used by Oxford, were purchased with support from the Scottwood Group and The Perry Foundation to help even the playing field between the two crews.

One of Waikato’s crew George Bridgewater is currently preparing in Europe for his debut at the World Rowing Championships in Milan, Italy later this month. Bridgewater is a member of the NZ men’s elite coxed four and has previously been a NZ U23 representative in 2002, placing 4th at the U23 World Championships in the coxless four.

Oxford, having studied rival Cambridge’s loss to Waikato University last year, have chosen to include a travelling reserve in their team. This decision was prompted by Cambridge rower James Livingston having an accident and fracturing his collarbone playing touch rugby on his first day in NZ.

The Gallagher Boathouse 8s Event, presented in association with Hamilton City Council, will begin at 10am on September 7 with live entertainment and a street market on Grantham St.

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