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Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 19:43 GMT
Pinsent pinpoints winning ways
Matthew Pinsent
In his column for BBC Sport Online, triple Olympic gold medallist and former Blue Matthew Pinsent sticks his neck on the line and predicts a Cambridge win.

I was out on the Tideway at the weekend and enjoyed a good day.

As part of my Leander club crew we won the Head of the River race having gone out early in the day in mild conditions.

We had the sort of weather the university crews will be dreaming of, but that stretch of water is rarely the same twice.

It can be rough and wintry on a March afternoon and the River Thames can be a horrendous place to be.

Oxford get in some vital last-minute practice
Oxford get in some vital last-minute practice
Especially when your legs start burning after only 45 seconds and you've got to row for the best part of 20 minutes.

I rowed in the Boat Race so long ago that some things about it are hard to remember - that's not one of them.

Neither is the pressure of the occasion.

All the training comes down to one race, you've got to get away on time, the tide's running out, millions of people are watching on television and the banks are lined with those who want to see it live.

There's no choice of conditions, it's Saturday, 10 minutes past two and you have to put up with your lot and row.

It's just one of the many tests on the day.

The various aspects that determine the race are so numerable that it's impossible to boil it down to one thing.

Steering, tactics, a quick start, a fast rhythm, a decisive push, the toss of a coin - there a just too many variables to pinpoint one place where the race can be won or lost.

The key is about being in the lead.

As a result the crews will commit everything to get into the lead and if that doesn't work they will have to make sure they hang on longer than the other crew.

So many variables, but there are two key factors that should have a major bearing on the race - and they are both stacked in Cambridge's favour.

Rick Dunn in action at the world championships
Dunn's experience is vital
One constant that could make a difference is the biggest name in the race - Rick Dunn.

He's a world champion from the British four last summer and what he does at stroke in the Cambridge boat will prove pivotal.

If he has a good race, rows and leads his crew well, I can't see Oxford having enough of an advantage in their personnel or in the way they row to counter him or his crew.

Then there's Cambridge's winning system.

They have won so often in the last 10 years that they know what they're doing is right.

If you put similar athletes through the same systems the winning system will carry on winning.

It comes down to confidence and demeanour. They will not chase the race - that's what Oxford will be doing.

The Dark Blues need to find new things to do to try and win this race and I don't think they'll find the answers this year.

A second successive Saturday on the Thames, and whatever the conditions, whatever the result, I'm looking forward to enjoying myself again.

See also:

26 Mar 02 |  Boat Race 2002
Pinsent full of praise
Links to more Boat Race 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Boat Race 2002 stories

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