The Rowing Service

2002 Boat Race Live Commentary

Saturday, 30th March

All times are GMT, add one hour for CET.

Anu Dudhia (

Post race
Gijs Hoen turns out to be Gerritjan Eggenkamp's best friend - Mayer is fine, although his exhaustion in the final stages of the race must have made a difference - The Dunn brothers, uncaught by camera I suspect, embraced together on the gravel when the two Boat Race crews landed - has everyone heard that the Queen Mother has died today? - the Isis-Goldie race was very close until about Chiswick Eyot, then Isis started to take a lead and moved away to win by six seconds, 2.25 lengths - Isis 17:27, Goldie 17:23.

Times to the markers -

Milepost	Cambridge 3:37	Oxford 3:38
Hammersmith	Cambridge 6:23	Oxford 6:23.5
Chiswick Steps	Cambridge 10:11	Oxford 10:12
Barnes Bridge	Cambridge 13:57	Oxford 13:57.5
Finish		Oxford 16:54	Cambridge 16:56

These are not record times, any of them, although the Milepost to Hammersmith Bridge splits are both inside the record set in 1998 by Cambridge. This year, Cambridge went one second quicker over that distance, and Oxford, just behind them, went 1.5 seconds faster than the 1998 time.

However, it is the third fastest winning time in history, and brings the total to 77 Cambridge, 70 Oxford, as well as dealing a full 7-0 Dark Blue 'whitewash' to the Light Blue camp.

On the newsgroup, Ewoud Dronkert has identified the swimmer as "Gijs Hoen (completely dressed: in just his club tie) from Nereus Amsterdam, see"

OK, that's it (although Rachel may want to add something later). I hope you enjoyed it.

Oxford cox ceremonially thrown into the water. Doesn't look too unhappy about it.

Tom Stallard (Cambridge President) collects his trophy. Crews shaking hands and embracing. Tom Stallard: "We knew it would be a close race ... we chose Middlesex because we would have the last bend".

Ben Burch (Oxford President) collects the trophy. "Not quite sure what happened, just kept hanging in there. Our chance came about a minute from the end".

Interview with Matt Smith, Oxford stroke (struggling a bit for breath). "the hardest race I've ever done" (and I can believe it). Peter Hackworth, Oxford cox: "we just had such belief all year ... in every part of the boat".

Official times: Oxford 16:54, Cambridge 16:56

Isis wade into the water to meet the Blue boat. Oxford won all 7 of the student Boat Races against Cambridge this year (although Cambridge won the Veterans' Boat Race last Wednesday).

The swimmer is shaking hands with the whole Oxford crew (apparently it was a Dutchman). The Cambridge no.4 is flat on his back but nobody seems too concerned so I assume it's just exhaustion.

Speculation by the commentators that Cambridge's big effort to get back on terms after their poor start may have been what caused them to lose it in the second half of the race. Someone swimming out to the Oxford boat (everyone assumes this must be a Dutchman).

Oxford pulling away now - win by about 3/4 L!

Superb effort by Oxford - they're now just ahead. Only about a minute to go.

Cambridge about a canvas up. Just trying to hang on - their no.4 still out of it. Oxford now level. Quite a race ...

Through Barnes bridge - only a couple of minutes left. Both crews still battling it out, both still getting warned by the umpire. Cambridge no.4 man having severe problems (Mayer).

Approaching Barnes - unusual to have both crews still side by side at this late stage. Oxford now getting credit for holding on around Cambridge's corner. Cambridge about 1/4 L up.

Cambridge still half a length up on Oxford - Oxford doing well to keep in contention after so long behind. Oxford overrating by 2/3 pips.

Cambridge pushed up to 37, but hasn't made a huge difference. However, the final bend around Barnes is starting to work in their favour. Coming up to the Bandstand.

Oxford looking to be rating 2 pips higher than Cambridge, but still Cambridge half a length up.

Cambridge looking comfortable and starting to pull out to maybe 1/2 L up. Both crews still trying to crowd each other. Cambridge @32, which is surprisingly low.

Both crews still rowing side-by-side down the Chiswick Reach, with Cambridge managing to hold on to their 1/4 L lead as Oxford's bend runs out.

Cambridge still holding on around the outside of the bend, maybe 1/2 L up. Oxford seem unable to press home the advantage of the bend.

Passing under Hammersmith, Cambridge still about 1/4 L up but Oxford have the advantage of the corner. Both crews being warned.

Crews close together, lots of warnings from the umpire, but no clashes. Cambridge still about 1/2 L up as they pass Harrods. Oxford starting to push as the Cambridge bend runs out.

Crabtree Reach. Cambridge 3:38 to the mile post (record is 3:31), about 2/3 L up on Oxford.

Cambridge using the bend are now almost half a length up. Looks to be good coxing by Cambridge forcing Oxford to stay wide. Oxford now being warned for crowding Cambridge. Both crews @34.

Crews close together, blades almost clashing. Cambridge made a big effort and now back on level terms.

Oxford now about 3/4 L lead approaching the first (Cambridge's) bend. Cambridge @ 51 off the start, Oxford at 45, but Cambridge made a bit of a mess of the first couple of strokes.

Oxford get away cleaner. Both crews diverging. Oxford maybe 1/2 length up after the first minute.

They're off. Cambridge cox still had her hand up (apparently)

Still adjusting to get the two crews level before starting. Isis won by 2 1/4 L in 17m27s officially.

Still waiting. Both crews pointing on diverging paths.

Both crews sitting forwards, coxes' hands still up though.

Oxford and Cambridge now attached to their stakeboats.

Showing the finish of the Isis Goldie race. Isis ahead from the start, beat Goldie by 2L, looking comfortable.

.. Nah, just showing another piece of film with Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent discussing the course and tactics

OK, back to live TV coverage from the river ...

BBC still doing a film piece, although expect Isis Goldie race to be finishing about now...

RQ is on a launch waiting for the Blue boats, and the BBC are currently screening some background film on the two crews, so no further news of Isis Goldie yet (sorry).

Goldie 39, Isis 41. Both way towards Middlesex, out of the stream. Isis still up as they go out of view, rating one pip higher than Goldie...

Isis (Mddx) and Goldie (Surrey) are off. Isis @45, Goldie @45.5. Goldie steer towards Isis - move back again. Umpire warning Goldie. Isis 3-4 seats up

Wind starting to pick up, causing some problems. Umpire (James Behrends - ex-Cambridge Blue) standing up. Very large crowds on the banks.

(RQ commentary) Reserve crews getting on to the stake-boats... Stream already at "normal" Boat Race level and rising.

Oxford using Concept oars. Both crews using new Empacher boats. Commentator points out Eggenkamp (Oxford no.3), the first Dutchman to row in the Boat Race who has a large contingent of supporters on the bank. Both crews now warming up.

Both crews have about 50cm antenna fixed to the bow and stern of their boats. The back one is a camera, the front one is to relay telemetry - we'll see how the BBC displays that information. Commentator notes that Oxford are, on average, 2.5 years younger than Cambridge (not much difference in weight though)

Oxford at last emerge from their boathouse ...

Josh West (Cambridge no.5) is competing in his fourth Boat Race, and it's the last one for which he will be eligible (you're only allowed 4 races as a post-graduate)

Cambridge using Croker oars.

OK, Cambridge finally coming out of the boathouse...

TV cameras waiting, but nobody coming out of their boathouse yet!

McCormack, last year's Cambridge cox, being interviewed. Says it will either be a very aggressive race or the umpire will put his foot down (and maybe disqualify someone). Interprets Cambridge's choice of station as anticipating a long race - expecting to use the advantage of the final bend in their favour (normally races are decided well before this point so the advantage is irrelevant).

Umpire (Simon Harris) being interviewed. Lots of contact with the coxes over the past year - he umpired both Universities' trials races - hopes for not too much trouble from them in this race.

Matt Pinsent & James Cracknell being interviewed. Speculating on why Cambridge chose Middlesex (MP: `a gutsy call'). Doesn't think it's because they're confident of breaking clear early, but might be concerned about Oxford getting a fast start. Cracknell on Oxford: get the work on early, very aggressive, been through tough races [Leander and Imperial]; and on Cambridge: taller and row longer, better pedigree on paper, but not much serious race practice.

Well, well ... Cambridge win again (coin nearly disappears over the edge of the platform, though, until the commentator stamps on it). Tom Stallard (Cambridge) says there's not much to choose between the two stations, Ben Burch (Oxford) says, with a slight tail wind, it ought to be a fast race.

TV coverage just started on BBC1. Introducing the toss, but we all know the result, don't we boys and girls...

(RQ) It's possible that Cambridge opted for Middlesex knowing that the umpire this year has decided to move both stake boats towards Surrey to even out a perceived advantage to the Surrey station in the first minute.

(RQ:) Goldie just boated, Isis getting in. Starting to cloud over and breeze picking up, but water still flat. All 4 crews rowing in Empachers this year. Isis looking a lot smoother than Goldie (says RQ - former Isis cox).

Standard tactics for crews on the Middlesex station are to go off hard for the first 3 minutes and try to use the first right hand bend (generally reckoned at about 1/3 L advantage) to get clear water over the other crew, after which they can cut across in front of them and nullify the big left hand bend at Hammersmith. Needless to say, tactics for the Surrey station are to stop them from getting clear water so they can keep them wide around the Hammersmith bend (about 2/3 L advantage).

Goldie (Cambridge) also won their toss, but opted for Surrey.

Cambridge won, and select Middlesex.

Going through the spiel about how to call ...

(from RQ over the phone - not yet on TV) The full crews are coming out for the toss. Tom Stallard (Cambridge) and Ben Burch (Oxford) shake hands, making Simon Harris (the umpire) look extremely short...

Just got a call from Rachel Quarrell on the river front (she's one of the official timers this year) - no breeze at all at the water level although the boathouse flags are fluttering a bit. Last night the Thames Barrier people were seriously thinking of closing the barriers (which would have stopped the incoming tide and effectively led to a "still water" race) but they've decided to leave things open. They're on "flood watch", though, which is what the BBC call a "wellie-warning". Anybody parking cars or picknicking close to the normal high tide mark is in for a rude shock.

The course runs broadly east to west, with moderate right hand bands at the start and finish and a major left hand bend in the middle. The crew starting on the northern station ("Middelsex") has the initial right hand band in its favour, while the southern ("Surrey") station has the major left hand bend.

The combination of full moon and equinox means that they should be racing on a fast tide. Together with light winds, not too much land water coming downstream and two strong, well-matched crews, a quick race is expected (the record is 16m19s, set by Cambridge in 1998)

Weather is sunny, warm (17C) and only a light breeze from the south, so weather's not going to be a factor this afternoon. In the meantime you might like to read the press articles listed on the New Information web-page, or the stories on the Boat Race Website

Good afternoon. The Presidents will toss a coin for choice of stations at 1245, the Isis Goldie (reserves) race starts at 1340 and the Boat Race itself starts at 1410.