Three Sidney students will be making their mark over the Easter weekend, as they take part in the Cambridge v Oxford Boat Race.

Kate Crowley (2021, History) retains her place from 2023 as cox of the Women’s Lightweight crew, where she is joined by Claire Cooper (2022, Computer Science). James Trotman (2022, Economics) will cox Blondie, the Women’s Reserve Boat.


The Women's Lightweight crew, with Claire Cooper (far right) and Kate Crowley (supported by her team-mates).

Claire Cooper, who started rowing in 2016 at Runcorn Rowing Club, said: ‘For most of my rowing career, the Boat Race felt very far out of reach to me, but it was definitely in my dreams!

‘Being selected for the Lightweight boat feels like possibly the biggest achievement of my life, and just the cherry on top of all the hard work and time I've put into this sport that I love so much.'

James Trotman, who coxed the Women’s Blue Boat to victory last year - part of a Cambridge clean sweep in 2023 - says his team are ‘ready and raring to go’: ‘Every year is different and we’re taking it one step at a time, learning the lessons from last year but definitely not resting on our laurels. Oxford are newly unified into one club and have some very strong results in fixtures and head races, so it’s sure to be a great match up.’

Team photo

The Cambridge Women's Reserve crew, with cox James Trotman (centre)

The Gemini Boat Race 2024 will take place over two days, with the Lightweight crews competing on Friday 29 March and the main (‘Blue Boat’) and Reserve Openweight crews racing off on Saturday 30 March.

The Cambridge teams moved to London ten days before the Boat Race to complete their preparations. Claire Cooper: ‘Preparations have been great! We have Bronya Sykes coaching us, who is such a phenomenal rower it feels like we are in very safe hands. I think we're really growing together as a crew which is lovely.’

Lightweight rowing was introduced as a formal category in the 1970s for men, and the 1980s for women, to encourage participation in countries where the average height is lower. In the women’s sport, no crew member can exceed 59kg and the crew must average no more than 57kg.

Claire Cooper has seen the importance of teamwork: ‘Obviously, there is the big difference that we all have to make weight, which is a huge thing and something the Openweights don't have to worry about. But from a rowing perspective, as smaller rowers we really have to rely on our technique and togetherness as a crew to get the boat moving fast rather than pure strength.’

The Women’s and Men’s Blue Boat races will be broadcast live on BBC1 and iPlayer, with coverage starting at 2pm on Saturday 30 March. For information on the other countries where live coverage is available, please go to the Boat Race website.

If you are planning to travel to London to watch the Boat Race, spectator information can be found here.

2024 crew photos: Nordin Catic

Individual photos: Claire Cooper (2004), Nordin Catic; Kate Crowley and James Trotman (both 2023), Stephen Matthews.

Banner image: May Bumps (2023), Stephen Matthews.

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