OUWLRC Squad Members Compete at GB Trials

This year Oriane Grant, Naomi Holland and Ellie Watts attended the GB Rowing Team’s 1st assessment in Boston Lincolnshire. Despite illness and some initial teething problems on the static ergs all three achieved 2k PBs, enabling them to progress through to the second day of trialling. Ellie Watts came 7th overall, Naomi 17th, and Oriane was the 8th fastest under 23.

On the next day there was a 5k time trial in singles. The strong wind meant progress was slow, but everyone persevered. Oriane was the 9th fastest U23 and Ellie finished 14th overall. Despite a speedy start Naomi had an unfortunate tangle with some outlying branches which damaged her overall ranking. All three gained valuable racing experience and are excited to pursue the rest of the season’s challenges.

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Photos courtesy of All Mark One.

Race Report: British Rowing Senior Championships 2018

Following the cancellation of the 2017 Senior Championships, the 2018 competition took place under sunny but breezy conditions at the National Watersport Centre in Nottingham.  OUWLRC had 5 crews competing across the two competition days (three LW2xs on Saturday and a LW4x and W8+ on Sunday).

On Saturday, the three doubles finished 16th, 22nd and 24th in the time trial, placing them all in the C/D Semi Finals.  Ellie & Naomi finished 3rd in their semi final, placing them in the C final, with both Amanda & Anneloes and Oriane & Grace racing in the D final.  All three crews battled increasingly windy and chopping conditions to finish 18th, 23rd and 24th overall.  Ellie & Naomi placed as the second highest lightweight 2x, with Amanda and Anneloes placing 3rd in the same category.  Grace and Oriane placed 5th in a highly competitive U23 lightweight 2x field of 8 crews.

Sunday’s crews consisted of a lightweight 4x and an 8+, both finished just outside the A/B semi final times in the time trial, and won their respective C/D semi finals to place in optimal lane positions for their C final.  The breeze dropped just in time for both crews to race their final races, with both in contention for wins in their respective categories.  In their final, the 8+ rowed through crews from Oxford Brookes and Nottingham to take 1st place in their final to place 13th overall, and a win in the Women’s 8+ University Shield in a time of 7:25, setting a new record for the category.  The 4x also won their final, placing 13th overall and winning the Lightweight Women’s 4x Shield in a time of 7:42.


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— The W8+ crew being awarded the W8+ University Shield —

— Photo taken by Jill Betts —

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Crew Lists:

LW 2x: Ellie Watts, Naomi Holland — 2nd placed Women’s LW 2x, Final ranking: 18th of all Women’s 2x’s

LW U23 2x: Grace Joel, Oriane Grant — 5th placed Women’s U23 LW 2x, Final ranking: 24th of all Women’s 2x’s

LW 2x: Amanda Thomas, Anneloes Hoff — 3rd placed Women’s LW 2x, Final ranking: 23rd of all Women’s 2x’s

LW 4x: Ellie Watts, Naomi Holland, Grace Joel, Amanda Thomas — Winners of the Women’s Lightweight Quad, Final ranking: 13th in all W4x’s

8+: Jolet Mimpen (C), Fiona Jamieson, Brigitte Schmittlein, Emily Hinson, Grace Hanna, Leah Mitchell, Caitlin O’Brien, Katherine Ferris, Tuuli-Anna Huikuri — Winners of the Women’s 8+ University Shield (for non-HPP), Final ranking 13th in all W8+’s

Pre-Season Training Camp: September 2018, Lake Sarnen

For the third year in a row, we returned to Lake Sarnen in Switzerland for a pre-season training camp in early September 2018.

A squad of 14 athletes comprising both returners and new recruits set their alarms for the horribly early time of 0245am to head from Oxford –> Luton –> Zurich –> Sarnen.  Greeted by glorious blue skies, stunning picturesque mountain scenery and a glassy 5km Lake Sarnen, we were all keen to jump straight into training.  We were treated to a week of perfect rowing conditions, ideal for the small boat training we had planned.

As with previous years, this camp predominantly focussed on technique, with long steady state paddles mixed with pure technical sessions in singles, pairs, doubles and a coxless four.  We couldn’t help but take advantage of the spacious lake, regularly rowing eight boats side by side.  The space also allowed Head Coach Chris O’Hara to get creative with his sessions, inventing what he claims to be the first ever omnium-style “elimination race” of blocks of r18 paddling interspersed with 30 second free rate bursts, with the boat in last place being eliminated at the end of each sprint.

As well as Chris and assistant coach Jill Betts, we were joined by our nutritionist Jasmine Campbell and sports psychologist Heather Moon who both give excellent support to aid our recovery between sessions and preparation for the upcoming season.

This training camp, as with previous years, was an incredibly valuable opportunity for our squad to kick off our season in preparation for the 2019 Boat Races.  We cannot thank Chris, Jill, Jasmine and Heather enough for their dedication in organisation, planning and running of the camp, as well as the team at Swiss Rowing for hosting us and allowing our use of their facilities.



Start of the 2018-2019 season

As the new academic year draws closer, we are pleased to announce the start of our 2018-2019 Lightweight Boat Race Campaign.  All rowers and coxes interested in trialling with OUWLRC are invited to an introductory meeting and training session on Wednesday 19th September, at 5pm in the Rowing Gym at Iffley Sports Centre.

We understand that some people might not be back in Oxford yet or are otherwise presently committed.  If you plan to trial for a place in our team this year, but you can’t attend on Wednesday, please drop an email to Head Coach Chris O’Hara (christopher.ohara@sport.ox.ac.uk) to let us know your circumstances and the date you will be joining us.



2018 Summer Regatta Report

Since the official end of the 2017/18 season, members of our squad have continued to train and compete at a large number of regattas.  OUWLRC has been represented at the following regattas:

Met Regatta (3rd June)
  • LW1x: Amanda, Grace J, Caitlin
  • W2-: Fiona & Grace H
Henley Women’s Regatta (22nd-24th June)
  • LW1x: Ellie, Anneloes, Amanda
Reading Town & Visitors (30th June)
  • Tethys 4+: Jolet, Emily, Naomi, Amanda, Katherine
  • 1x: Emily, Caitlin, Fiona, Anneloes, Ellie
  • 2x: Naomi, Amanda (Win in Band 1)
  • Dev Squad: 4+, 8+(A), 8+(B)
Molesey Regatta (21st July)
  • 1x: Oriane, Fiona (1st and 2nd respectively in Band 2)
  • 2x: Fiona & Oriane (1st in Band 3)
Henley Town & Visitors (4th August)
  • 1x: Amanda (1st in Band 3), Naomi (1st in Band 4), Anneloes (2nd in Band 2), Oriane (2nd in Band 4)
Warwick Regatta (18th August)
  • 1x: Naomi (1st, representing Warwick Boat Club)
Oxford City Regatta (18th-19th August)
  • 1x: Caitlin (1st in Band 2)
  • 8+: Jolet (three 1st place wins as cox for W8+ events with Green Templeton College Boat Club)


Processed with MOLDIV

Top row:

Caitlin O’Brien and Jolet Mimpen winning at Oxford City Regatta // Naomi Holland winning at Warwick Regatta // Amanda Thomas winning at Henley T&V

Middle row:

Naomi Holland winning at Henley T&V // Fiona Jamieson and Oriane Grant winning at Molesey Regatta // Ellie Watts competing at EUSA

Bottom row:

Naomi Holland and Amanda Thomas winning at Reading Town Regatta // Grace Hanna, Fiona Jamieson, Grace Joel, Amanda Thomas and Caitlin O’Brien at Met Regatta // Anneloes Hoff at Henley Women’s Regatta

European University Games

The lightweight double of Naomi Holland and Amanda Thomas, along with Ellie Watts in the lightweight single, represented Oxford and GB Universities at the 2018 European University Games in Coimbra, Portugal.

We arrived with a day to spare before racing began, in which we had two practice outings on the lake. The venue was the international standard watersports centre just outside Montemor-o-Velho, a short drive from where we were staying in Coimbra. During the second outing in particular, there was a serious headwind and the water was choppier than anything we’d seen back at Wallingford. We worked to stay positive and remind ourselves of the times we’d dealt with similar conditions in the past, but we knew that if it stayed like this, the races would be tough.

We went back to our accommodation and tried to get a good night’s sleep, despite the pre-race nerves, before the first day of competition. The following morning when we got to the lake, we were happy to discover that, though the conditions weren’t perfect, they were definitely better. Fortunately they stayed that way all three days of racing.

Ellie reports on her racing:

The first race of the day was the women’s LW1x Heat 1, where the winner would go straight to the A final. The aim of today was to acclimatise to the lake and assess the competition. I finished 5th, with plenty of energy left for the next two days of racing. There were perfect conditions for the repechage the following day. I was up against three other scullers, including a fellow Brit from Cambridge. Although down off the start I kept pushing-on and eventually finished 2nd in a time of 8:19, winning a place in the A Final. The A Final turned out to be a close fight between 4th, 5th and 6th place, with less than 1 second between these positions. I finished 6th overall, and then ate a chocolate croissant.


Ellie Watts pushing off for her heat on the first day of racing.

Naomi reports on the double’s racing:

The first day of racing was a heat – finishing top two would mean direct qualification for the A final. Our strategy was that if we looked to be in a position to finish top two then we would go for it; otherwise we would save our energy for the next two days. Our start was powerful, but not quite as composed as in our final training sessions. It was enough to keep us in the field – by 1000m we were in 3rd place, and made one last push for 2nd. Once it was evident that 2nd was beyond reach we stepped it down to save energy, still finishing in 3rd. The next day brought the repechage. We took a different approach to the previous day: we rated lower, with a real focus on power per stroke. With this more controlled race plan, we ended up leading for most of the race, eventually coming in a close second and qualifying for the A final.

On the start line of the final, I remember a sudden moment of clarity: there was absolutely nothing to lose. The start and the first half of the race passed in a blur – we were somewhere towards the back of the pack off the start, but we found a strong rhythm and by halfway we had broken away from the crews in 5th and 6th. With 500m to go we made a final concerted effort, briefly gaining some ground on the German and Dutch crews who were battling for 2nd and 3rd. It soon became clear that we had given all that we had. By the final 100m my vision was blurring, and I’m pretty sure by that point I was simply dead weight that Amanda carried over the finish line (Amanda reports feeling similar…!) We finished 4th, behind crews from Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands, happy with our performance and knowing that there was no way we could have done anything more.


The lightweight double crossing the line in second place during their repechage.

It was great to have the chance to compete against some of the best university crews from all across Europe – we all definitely learnt a lot from the experience! Many thanks to Chris and Clive for their invaluable coaching and encouragement all year and for this amazing opportunity. Thanks also to OUWLRC, Oxford Sports Federation and everyone who supported our crowdfunding campaign for helping us get to this incredible event. And a final shout out to the EUSA mascot DUC, pictured below, for just being generally brilliant.


DUC, the EUSA mascot, entertaining spectators during medal presentations.

— report by Naomi Holland

2018 Tethys race report

Emily Hinson reports on the 2018 reserve race: 

On Sunday 19th March, the Lightweight Women’s Reserve Boat Race took place, relocated to Dorney Lake from the Henley Reach at the last minute due to a poor weather forecast and high streams.  For the first time at the Henley Boat Races, the Reserve Boat Race was contested by a 4+ (having been a 2- for the last couple of years).  Despite the bitter weather (featuring strong, gusty cross-head winds, snow and negative temperatures) we were well prepared to race, having trained on the Dorney course in the preceding days and indeed at various points in the months leading up to the event.

We had put in so much preparation and practice that as we boated and rowed up to the start, we knew exactly what we had to do at every stage.  Each of us was just concentrating on the job we had to get done and trusting in our team-mates.

The start was slightly delayed, due to strong crosswinds making alignment of the boats on the starting pontoon difficult, particularly for our opposition! Cambridge hit a higher stroke rate off their starting sequence, giving them an initial advantage of around a quarter of a length.  Their lead was quickly swallowed up by the end of the first minute of racing, as we moved into our strong race rhythm. The magic call to bring in our hip drive really did the trick. By the 250m mark, we had a convincing lead of around 1 length and were continuing to push off Cambridge.  For the rowers, it was hugely motivating to see the gap between the crews getting bigger and bigger, if somewhat astonishing!

Over the remainder of the course, Jolet (our cox) stuck rigidly to our race plan, pushing us onward through each stage of the race and focusing on keeping the boat moving as efficiently and quickly as possible despite strong gusts and changing conditions along the course.  From her spot in the bows of the boat, Jolet had no idea how far our lead had opened out, so kept encouraging the four rowers as if Cambridge were right there behind us.

We crossed the line in a time of 8 minutes and 15 seconds, approximately 25 seconds ahead of Cambridge. Although we hadn’t been pushed by the Tabs as hard as we had expected, it was an immensely satisfying race, and the feeling of elation was something to remember for a lifetime. It was an honour to be the first crew awarded the trophy for the Women’s Reserve Race, which was generously donated this year by previous competitors from both Oxford and Cambridge crews.

The crew would like to thank the coaching team (Chris and Clive), in particular Jill Betts, for all of their tireless work and dedication to getting us race ready.  In addition, we would like to extend our thanks to our nutritionist (Jasmine), physio team (Caitlin, Briony, Sally and Nick), sports psychologist (Heather), physiologist (Filipe) and the entire HBR Organising Team for their work arranging the racing at Dorney under difficult circumstances.

Crew: Jolet Mimpen (cox), Emily Hinson, Naomi Holland, Amanda Thomas, Katherine Ferris

Coach: Jill Betts

Verdict: Oxford win, ‘easily’ in a time of 8 min 15 sec.




2018 Boat Race report

amid winter-like weather, the Henley Boat Races were moved to Dorney Lake. Sowon Lee, BB cox, writes:

Spectators huddle in small groups, stamping their feet on the frozen ground. Only the most dedicated supporters have braved the snow and wind to cheer on their favourite Blues at the 2018 Henley Boat Races (at Dorney Lake).

Oxford are ready. They back onto the start line and point their bow expertly. The wind swings the two crews around, and they’re off—Oxford charging ahead with the quickest start of their season. As the crews settle to race pace, Cambridge edge into a two seat lead, but cannot escape from Oxford who have found their rhythm. Down the course, the two crews battle for dominance: Cambridge make a push and get almost a length ahead, but Oxford strike back and reclaim the seats until the crews are back where they started. With Cambridge still holding on to their two seat lead, Oxford goes all in—they sprint early and it’s a wild chase to the finish, rates spiralling higher and higher. At the last moment, Cambridge surge forward another two seats and cross the line half a length ahead. The verdict: 2 seconds.

Defeat is bitter, but we rowed the best race we could have on that day. We have no regrets, only next year to look forward to.

Blue Boat Challenge

Dorney Boat Races

blue boat racing

Henley Boat Races moved to Dorney Lake

from Henley Boat Races:

“Adverse river conditions on the Thames at Henley have made it necessary to relocate the 2018 Oxford & Cambridge Lightweight Boat Races. The management at Eton Dorney have kindly agreed that racing may take place at Dorney Lake.

Due to another event taking place at Dorney, there will be no general parking available. Parking for HBR spectators is severely restricted and by permit only – other vehicles will not be permitted access to the site.

It is a condition of our permission to race at Eton Dorney that spectators do not park in the villages and lanes adjacent to Dorney Lake.

Unfortunately the Alumnae and Inter-Collegiate races are cancelled for 2018.”

Travel Recommendations

Due to limited parking at Dorney, we recommend travelling by train. London to Slough is direct and <20mins. Oxford to Slough is direct and >30mins. Taxi from Slough to Dorney takes 15mins, and will cost £5 each, if shared between 4. We look forward to seeing you there!

Live Streaming

Look for the live video stream at the link below, from 3 pm:

Race Schedule

Sunday 18 March

15:30 – Lwt Women’s Reserves

15:50 – Lwt Men’s Reserves

16:10 – Lwt Women Blue Boat

16:30 – Lwt Men Blue Boat

Anna Corderoy recounts her journey from OUWLRC to the World Championships

Anna Corderoy coxed the Great Britain PR3 Mix4+ to a Gold Medal and World Best time at the World Rowing Championships in September 2017 in Sarasota. She writes: 

Christmas 2014: an unexpected message in my inbox. OUWLRC needed an extra cox for training camp, did I want to go for it? I (eventually) decided that I fancied it, but on the strict, self-imposed condition that it wouldn’t lead to any long-term commitment. A whirlwind of a year later, my crew snuck their bowball ahead of Cambridge’s at the Henley Boat Race 2016 to pull off an incredibly last minute win by a canvas. Then I graduated, feeling certain that my experience of the real world would be much more land-based and much less on the water.

However, OUWLRC left such an impression on me that I wasn’t ready to let it go. I messaged anyone I thought might be able to help and told them the same thing: I wanted to cox for GB. A massive long shot, but I’d do whatever it took to give it a decent try. I didn’t know that would entail upping sticks to London, blowing every penny left in the bank on a flat with strangers, setting alarms for 3:50am to trek from Putney to Molesey for outings before dashing from zone 6 to 1 for 9am lectures at law school. Trying to get on the radar, racing with any crew that asked me, even putting myself in front of busy GB coaches and eagerly introducing myself. One morning my coach at Molesey told me the GB para squad were looking for coxes, and that they’d put my name forward if I wanted to trial. I told him to count me in.

It hit home that the 2017 World Rowing Championships were happening when, just after we touched down in Florida, the pilot wished luck to the GB Rowing Team over the tannoy to a cabin full of passengers who burst into applause. In Tampa, there were posters and billboards for the event everywhere. Everyone greeting us in the airport was full of energy, excited that GB had arrived – one of the first nations to come through. Watching other teams from all over the world gradually join us one by one at the Nathan Benderson Park was surreal; as the boat racks filled up I made the transition from deciphering Oxford college blade colours to working out which countries were training in the lanes around us on the lake. When, during the colourful opening ceremony, the 69 competing nation flags were brought onto the stage, it reinforced what a privilege it was to be there and what an amazing week lay ahead.

Base camp was the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sarasota – second to none with our 9th floor balcony views of the marina and Gulf of Mexico. Most of our time away from the lake was spent recovering here, with our fantastic team coaches/doctor/physiologists/physiotherapists/nutritionist no more than a few doors away if we ever needed support. With our preliminary scheduled for five whole days into the regatta, it was exciting chatting with other GB athletes over meals and hearing their accounts of how racing was going.

Our final came around on the morning of Saturday 30th. Despite a good preliminary two days previously we were ready to step up another gear and adamant not to rest on our laurels. We’d been told the day would be a “19-camera-extravaganza”, and that tickets had completely sold out; nonetheless everything that morning seemed to happen perfectly within our own crew. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be, as we’d been so well prepared in the lead up to the race that we knew exactly what the plan was and how we were going to deliver it. Auto-pilot kicked in from the minute we pushed off the raft. We were given a bit more of a fight off the start compared with the preliminary race; it was important to stay internal and execute our start sequence exactly as we’d planned it. 500-600m in, as we pulled away from the USA, the challenge was to see just how clean, efficient and technical we could make the rest of the race. We knew what splits to look for and which technical points we’d need to stay on top of to hit them. By the time the red buoys came it felt as though we’d set a sustainable platform to build for the line. Seeing the bubble-line getting closer and closer whilst hearing the sound from the stands was amazing.

Everything after that was a bit of a blur: landing, getting ushered into the media area, hugged by Dame Katherine Grainger and Sir Steve Redgrave, trying (and tremendously failing) to keep my cool on camera…learning that we’d achieved our aim, 6:55.7, a sub-7 minute world record. Then standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem – the absolute nail in the coffin RE any semblance of media dignity as I bawled my eyes out. After that it was an immense privilege to be able to spend the rest of the weekend in the stands with the team, watching everybody else race.

Back to OUWLRC. I took lessons learnt with the lightweights onto the start line last Saturday, not least every month beforehand in the build up. Back in 2015, when, inexperienced as I was, OUWLRC decided to give me a chance, this club taught me a few of the most important things: shoot for things beyond your reach. Take even the least expected opportunities. Work hard, take what luck you can get and do whatever you can to make the rest for yourself. I am so grateful for all of the support that OUWLRC has given me since I trundled confusedly into Heathrow on Day 1 – thanks especially to Chris, Jill, Clive, Andrew and all of my squad members over the last few years. You’ve made the journey incredible!

Thanks also to Phil Bourguinon and everyone at Molesey Boat Club, and last but absolutely by no means least our fantastic coaches Nick Baker & Tom Dyson, everyone working behind the scenes on the GB Rowing Team for all of their hard work getting us to the start line, as well as the National Lottery for the ongoing support.