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  Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 15:00 GMT
Cambridge battle to reclaim crown
Presidential rivalry: Kieran West and Dan Snow
Presidential rivalry: Kieran West and Dan Snow
Mark Davies explains why Cambridge find themselves in unfamiliar waters at the 147th University Boat Race.

This year marked the first time since 1993 that the run-up to the Boat Race was set in motion by a man in Light Blue.

Traditionally, it is always the previous year's losers who throw down the gauntlet to race again.

So it was Cambridge president Kieran West who challenged his Oxford counterpart Dan Snow to race for the Aberdeen Asset Management Trophy.

Within the two universities, this is part of the event's enduring appeal - each year, the Boat Race is all about seeking revenge.


The Boat Race is all about seeking revenge
Mark Davies
Cambridge's defeat last year came on the back of a run of seven successes - their longest winning run since the record-breaking 13 between the wars.

The loss hit hard.

The Light Blues had felt that they were technically superior, which counts for nothing now, of course.

Success - backed up on six of the seven occasions by crushing victories from their second crew, Goldie, over Isis - had brought a feeling almost of invincibility.

New beginning

The same was true of Oxford in the 1980s and early 1990s: 16 wins in 17 years gave them every reason to believe that each race was a formality.

In fact, each race is a new beginning.

But when the oarsmen start their training programme in September, they become part of a system which has either been proven by success or tested by failure.

Oxford's Nick Robinson celebrates in 2000
Oxford's Nick Robinson celebrates in 2000
Their approach will subconsiously differ as a result.

Self-belief is a great advantage up to a point, but there comes a stage where it can take the edge off your hunger.

Cambridge got together two weeks after Oxford had started training this year.

A summer of soul-searching over, they welcomed their Olympic gold-winning president back into their squad with a new drive, and a determination to prove that 2000 was an aberration.

The fight was back on.

For Oxford, 2001 will be the chance to start putting together a run of their own.

Victory on 24 March would silence the doubters who claim that conditions last year worked in their favour.

So to some extent, the fear of losing will play a part.

Come the day, of course, it will be the faster crew that wins.

But the approach to that showdown has been shaped by last year's race.

In an all-or-nothing event like the Boat Race, there is nowhere to hide when the Fat Lady starts to sing.

The 147th University Boat Race is being broadcast live in Grandstand on BBC One 24 March from 1300GMT

BBC Sport Online will stream the action live and the race can also be heard on BBC Five Live

Boat Race

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Links to more University Boat Race stories are at the foot of the page.


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