The 2017 Boat Race

The weeks leading up to the Boat Race are a blur: crew selection – Wimbleball training camp – finishing touches in Wallingford, and then before we knew it we were in Henley: 8 rowers, 1 cox and the reserve pair. We spent a successful week adjusting to the strong headwind the Henley course had thrown at us, leading to some adjustments to rowing technique to cope with the rougher waters. Armed with our new Resolute, newly named ‘Inverbroom’, we ended the week with quiet confidence and determination.


When Boat Race morning arrived, there was a feeling of readiness – we had done all we could up to this point, now it all came down to getting the final job done. The course greeted us with slightly kinder conditions than we had spent the week preparing for, with the wind slowing to a slightly weaker cross-head wind.

The morning went by quickly and suddenly the race was upon us: hands on – past the crowds – boat on the water – “pushing off on three, ready: one, two, three”… After a solid warm up, with some good confidence-boosting bursts and starts we felt ready to go. We were aware that Cambridge had a strong line up, but we were so focused and internalised it didn’t cross our minds that we might lose this race. Both crews attached to the stake boats quickly, but getting (and remaining) straight was a struggle in the crosswind, which had picked up throughout the day. I heard the Cambridge cox, repeatedly: “my hand is down”, just as my own bows swung around in the wind. As I was straight, I heard the Cambridge cox: “my hand is up”. We finally synchronised and the umpire quickly called the start: there was no time to think.


We produced a solid start and went off the stake boat cleanly through the waves. Cambridge’s start was simply stronger and they pulled ahead. I called an ‘absorb’ move to hold strong coming off the start, but not one eye strayed from our boat; we all had confidence in each other. Between the 500m mark and the Remenham club, Cambridge’s clean, composed rowing extended their lead when we came past our supporters at Upper Thames. We stuck to the race plan and I called our focus on sharp catches approaching Upper Thames, and combined with the effect of the support from the Oxford crowd we finally found our rhythm and started to move. Cambridge were now well ahead and it was at this stage coming up to halfway that I knew we had to do something special to narrow the margin. Rather than a power push, I called our wind for the finish early: the rowers knew this could happen at any stage in the race and I was so proud of the response they gave. We took the rate up three and started to narrow the margin for the first time. We knew we were behind, but not once did I see or feel anyone in the boat give up and it was amazing to find our rhythm and lock onto it. This transition, coupled to a final successful wind into the finish at 500m to go saw us narrow the margin to three lengths at the finish.


It would be so easy to judge the success of this year on the margin of this loss and reflect on what we could have done better as a crew and as a squad to change the outcome. There was a lot to be learned from this race, but although it is hard to admit, Cambridge simply put out a better crew of 9 people and rowed the better race. They deserved this year’s win, and I commend the race they produced. Regardless of the outcome, for any athlete to juggle training for a Boat Race with a full academic schedule is something to be admired, and I am in awe of my rowers every erg test and training session they put themselves through, for months on end, coming back year on year. Yes, we lost the boat race and that hurts, but we have also come so far as a crew. I can honestly say I have never experienced such camaraderie, determination, and complete commitment to each other and a mutual goal, and I am so proud to have been part of this group of amazing athletes.

2017 Blue Boat

B Hannah Patel
2 Lucy Cross
3 Livia Dewaele
4 Rachel Anderson
5 Danielle Edmunds
6 Joanna Heymann
7 Moyo Tian
S Laure Bonfils
C Cecilia Karlsson

— Report by Cecilia Karlsson

Henley Boat Races 2- reserve race



report by Christina Turner:

On Sunday 26th of March 2017 the 2nd lightweight women’s reserve race proceeded under difficult conditions. The weather had threatened to prevent the pairs race during the week, however both crews bravely took to the water to showcase the work and training they had put in over the previous 6 months. The Oxford crew began strong, taking two lengths off the start, however due an unfortunate line taken by the Cambridge pair, Oxford was knocked off their rhythm.  Oxford quickly recovered, although Cambridge had now established a powerful stride and began to pull away from the Oxford pair. Cambridge extended their lead to two lengths by Remenham club. The Oxford pair put in a valiant effort with a push at the barrier, however it was just too late. Cambridge won the 2017 reserves race with a result of easily in 8:05.  Both crews dealt with tricky conditions well and we congratulate Cambridge on their performance. We look forward to the 2018 Henley reserves race!

crew: Maline Meiske and Christina Turner


Crew Announcement

We are delighted to announce the 2017 OUWLRC Blue Boat:

Stroke: Laure Bonfils (St Hugh’s)
7:  Moyo Tian (Balliol)
6: Joanna Heymann (New College)
5: Danielle Edmunds (Lincoln)
4: Rachel Anderson (St Cross)
3: Livia Dewaele (Worcester)
2: Lucy Cross (Lincoln)
Bow: Hannah Patel (Linacre)
Cox: Cecilia Karlsson (St John’s)

and the Reserve Pair:

Maline Meiske (St Anthony’s)
Christina Turner (St Edmund Hall)

The squad will be staying at 25 Rotherfield Road, Henley-on-Thames RG9 1NR. We are looking forward to seeing all the Oxford supporters at Henley on the 26th of March!




Topolski Fund

We are delighted to announce the formal establishment of the Topolski Fund in memory of legendary Oxford coach Daniel Topolski. The fund, a permanent endowment fund to support all four Oxford University rowing clubs, is launching with initial donations of £10.6 million and an amazing matched funding pledge (for every £1 you give, an additional £1 will be donated by the founder donors, up to £2 million).

The clubs need to reach £20 million to secure their future and we need your help to get there. To find out more or to make a donation, please contact the club or visit:

For a brief news release from the university:

2017 Winter Training Camp

By Jade Bogart

   From 30th December to 9th January, OUWLRC had their winter training camp in Galicia, Spain. The squad returned to Balneario Laias Caldaria Baias, where camp had taken place last year. The location was superb, right next to the Miño River which is the longest river in Galicia. We were very fortunate with the winter weather this year, which although a little chilly at first, remained mostly clear, sunny and even quite warm in the afternoons!

OUWLRC’s stretch of the Miño River, right outside the hotel

OUWLRC’s stretch of the Miño River, right outside the hotel

   As far as the training itself was concerned, the squad spent a lot of time in pairs, switching combinations and seats. As a technical exercise, this was brilliant. The pair is unforgiving to any discrepancy between the rowers’ strokes and so makes clear the improvements to be made. It is however such a rewarding boat when it finally works and by the end of the week there were some impressively fast combinations!

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   The success of this was evident in the ‘Ninja warriors on water’ exercise. Random combinations had the challenge of firstly spinning the boat both ways in the fastest time, then a 500m sprint, followed by having 10 successful roll ups. Combinations were able to work regardless if the rowers had been with each other before – some girls even switched sides! The ‘Pair’s Matrix’ at the end of the week was a similar success, with again random pair combinations doing a 1000m time trial: the fastest being Dani Edmunds and Linda van Bijsterveldt, who had never been in a pair together until then!

    Aside from the pairs, the squad spent sessions in an eight, fours and sculling boats. OUWLRC have two girls trialling for GB Under 23s this year. This was a great opportunity for Dani Edmunds and Lucy Cross to spend lots of time in their singles and we look forward to what this year may bring for them! The camp also marked the start of seat racing. This was the first proper experience of seat racing for many of the rowers, and a taste of what the upcoming season has in store.

   Off the water, the girls took full advantage of the natural thermal baths that were part of the hotel. The sulphurous waters did wonders for aching bodies and blistered hands. There was also cause to celebrate as the camp went over the New Year, and OUWLRC began 2017 in the most fitting way: hours of rowing chat and a long paddle the morning after.

   The squad also had an afternoon off in which they made a trip to the nearby town of Ourense. The girls visited the old town, the famous As Burgas (thermal springs) and the city Cathedral.


   The aim of this camp was three fold: to make technical and physical progress, to begin to have an idea of the final Blue Boat crew, and to bond as a squad. We most definitely achieved each of these by the end of the camp, but I think the last point deserves more attention than the others. Boats go fast when people row well, but they go faster when people row together. Over training camp the squad has become even closer than before and there is a real support network and team ethos which makes the entire trialling experience so special.

   A big thanks must be said to our coaches and support team who made this camp possible. It was a brilliant way to kick off the New Year and we hope 2017 continues on this positive trajectory!

OUWLRC Squad 2016-17

OUWLRC Squad 2016-17

Chris O’Hara, Coach of the Year

We are immensely proud to announce that Chris O’Hara has been awarded the title of Coach of the Year by British Rowing, in their Education Performance category!

British Rowing will have been impressed by the fact that Chris has been chief coach of OUWLRC for 7 years, during which time he has won the boat race 5 times, and also encouraged the club to expand significantly in its size, activities, and achievements. They will also have read comments made by recent athletes, who have been extremely complimentary about the programme and coaching at the club during this period.

Thank you so much Chris for everything you have been doing for the club!



2016 Trial VIIIs

Video of the race: Many thanks to!


On Sunday 11th December, OUWLRC had their Trial Eights race at Henley. This race was the final event of what had been a packed and productive winter season. The athletes have competed in a variety of regattas in the last few months. OUWLRC had two crews racing at Fours Head, which was for many their first head race or a longer course. The squad also went to Brit Champs and Wallingford Head. With each race, massive technical progress was made as well as giving athletes and coxes more racing experience, to be able to overcome whatever challenges the elements or other crews may pose.

The season’s final race came round all too quickly. The squad were really put through their paces in the training leading up to Trial Eights, arriving at the start line that Sunday afternoon after a week of erg tests, triple outings and seat racing. But as we sat there at front stops, we knew we could put our trust in all the training we had done. It had been a season of massive technical and physical gains – the cox had only to put their hand down and we were ready to make this our best race.

The crews off the start were pretty much level, the two French strokes equally keen for a good beginning to their race. The river conditions were good and so both boats benefitted from clean water to maximise their progress. Liberté however soon pulled away from Egalité. Egalité remained strong, not letting Liberté become too comfortable with their lead. Gradually throughout the race however, Liberté increased their lead and passed the finishing line roughly 13/4 lengths ahead. As both crews arrived back at the boat house however, a sense of success was shared by the entire squad. Every athlete had worked super hard over this season and the results were self-evident: we had rowed better and we had done it together.


It has been an absolutely fantastic first part of season. As always there are improvements to be made, whether that’s in technique or erg scores, but I think this is more cause for excitement than anything else. With training camp ahead of us and then only a couple of weeks until The Boat Race, we go into the New Year with a sense of anticipation for all the further gains it should bring. Thank you to Chris, Clive, Jill and Andrew for your coaching and advice. Thank you also to committee members working behind the scenes to make the team run smoothly, to our President Alba Pellaroque for creating such a good squad atmosphere and holding us all together, and to each member for their enthusiasm and commitment to making OUWLRC such a fun and successful club.

By Jade Bogart

Pre-Season Training Camp to Lake Sarnen, Switzerland – 2016

by Jade Bogart

The 2016-17 season was off to an exciting start, with a small group of returning and new athletes going to Lake Sarnen in Switzerland for pre-season training camp. The 7.5 km² large lake is roughly 85km south of Zurich, surrounded by gorgeous mountain and forest scenery. It was an incredible location. We stayed for 5 days at the Swiss Rowing Federation’s national rowing centre, which was situated only a minute away from the landing stage.

Lake Sarnen

Lake Sarnen

Despite initial fears of thunderstorms, every day we had warm (sometimes too warm!) sunshine, little wind and flat water. These conditions were perfect for technical training, which was to be the focus of the trip. We went out 2-3 times a day, in a mixture of sculling and sweep boats. For many of the new rowers, this was their first time they had sculled.

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On the coaching team was head coach Chris and assistant coach Jill, who as always were fantastic with helping us make rapid improvements. For the last half of the camp, we were also joined by a past President of the club, Linda Reynard. Not only was her additional help very useful, but it was also interesting to discuss how the club has evolved so much over the years. It made us feel even more privileged to be here!

Aside from making technical progress in our rowing, the squad had an afternoon off to visit the nearby city of Lucerne. We went to the historic centre and climbed the old ramparts in order to have a view of the town. The camp provided a great opportunity for the new squad members to mix with the seniors and to start to build the team ethos that is so important to the club.

This was also the ideal time to get prepared on other aspects of training. The girls received lots of information from our nutritionist Rianne, who accompanied us on the camp. We were introduced to many new products and had all our questions answered. Rianne also did an amazing job of organising the meals in our self-catered accommodation, so was really vital to the running of the camp! We were very grateful for all the advice she gave and look forward to working with her over the year.

The squad is currently back in Wallingford with the rest of the triallists and have begun the training for this year. We would like to say thank you to Chris, Jill, Rianne and to all those who worked to organise the trip behind the scenes. This was really a wonderful way to start the season.

Pre-Season Sculling Camp, Wallingford – 2016

This year, two pre-season training camps took place:

  • A Pre-Season Training Camp to Lake Sarnen, Switzerland (see next post): with a small group of athletes – a mix of returning rowers and a select few of this summer’s development squad. Coaches: Chris and Jill.
  • A Pre-Season Sculling Camp, in Wallingford. Coach: Andrew.

Julia was one of the lucky rowers to experience the pre-season sculling camp:

“I was a novice last year and only ever did sweep rowing, so the sculling camp was an amazing opportunity for me to learn to scull. The coaching was fantastic with so much attention and time spent on both each individuals techniques and working together as a crew when in doubles/quads.”

We would like to say thank you to Andrew for his amazing coaching.


Bronze at EUSA!


The lightweight quad of Laure, Dani, Jowita and Anna (all Blue Boat 2016) following a 3rd place finish at BUCS regatta were selected to represent Oxford and GB at this years European university games in Zagreb.

GB Rowing team

GB Rowing team

Upon arrival on Sunday at the accommodation, a student village of the sports section of the Zagreb University, the girls took to the water for an afternoon paddle. The following day was also reserved for training and preparation for the racing which was to begin on Tuesday.

Weighing in the morning and coming comfortably under the crew average of 57 kg the first day was a race for lanes against 5 other crews: reading, Bristol, Koc university (turkey), Njungen (Holland) and Munster (Ger). The girls following a very strong middle 1 km narrowly won their race and proceeded to draw the top lane for Thursday’s final. Having the next day off from racing gave us a chance to do some sight seeing of the old town of Zagreb.

Heat Official Times

Heat Official Times

The next day despite a day off from racing still contained two training sessions in which we aimed to improve our start in time for the final.

On finals day again weighing in very comfortably under the average (with Dani being especially favoured by the officials as probably the lightest athlete of the rowing at 52.3 kg) the crew was ready for a tough fight against the crew from Germany and reading university. After a slightly disappointing first 500 m we were a length down on Munster in 3rd and over a length behind reading. There was a lot of catching up to do and we managed to get a seat on Munster before they inched it on the line in a time 0.3 s faster than ours! Even though we were initially disappointed with the bronze medal after winning our heat we knew that we have come a long way as a crew in a very short space of time. The final was followed by a medal ceremony, compulsory kit swaps and of course the end of games celebration with the other crews.


Flo, Dani, Laure, Anna and Jowita showing their Bronze medals

It was an amazing experience which we will remember for many years to come. It was also the highest calibre of competition that our crews have done and a fitting final farewell to Oxford rowing for a number of the quad. Achieving bronze along with Flo Pickles (OUWBC) has also cemented Oxford as a household name not only in sweep rowing but also women’s sculling.