The Oxford Cambridge Boat Race 2011: There has often been a tendency for Dark Blue favouritism at ICBC. Whether this is due to Oxford boating from Westminster School, Bill Mason’s destination after his glorious years with Imperial, or the fact that several former members (Seb Pearce, Oli Moore, Ben Smith, Martin Walsh and the rest) have studied and raced at Oxford after leaving Imperial, or just the fact the city is closer to Putney than Cambridge (49.9 miles vs 53.5 miles) is unknown. Imperial had a particularly special interest in this year’s 157th Boat Race though, with the presence of two ICBC legends – Simon “Sloppy” Hislop and George Whittaker – in the stern of the Oxford Blue boat.
Photo by Seb Pearce
These two names are engrained in the minds of ICBC as the stars to aim for along the Imperial yellow brick road. They are far from strangers to winning races together; in 2004, they won the Student Coxed fours event at Henley Royal Regatta (later to become the Prince Albert Challenge Cup), and both added another Henley Medal to the collection in 2008 when they won the Visitors’ Challenge Cup. For both these races, the pair were in the bows of the boat; a “tradition” that was broken this year when Sean Bowden (Oxford’s Head Coach, now with ten Boat Race victories to his name) decided Simon and George were the perfect stern pair. Some scepticism was heard around ICBC when Simon was seen at stroke one weekend on Tideway and many wondered what the hell Sean was thinking but, come race day, the win was Oxford’s.
The primarily British crew of Sam Winter-Levy (cox), Simon Hislop, George Whittaker, Constantine Louloudis, Karl Hudspith, Ben Ellison, Alec Dent, Ben Myers (president) and Mortiz Hafner showed a “textbook example of how to win [the boat race] on the Surrey station”. They took the lead early in the race, having half a length lead on the Light Blues by Harrods and, learning from the mistakes of last year, clear water by St Paul’s School. From then on, the race was Oxford’s to lose: They simply and loosely extended their lead, eventually finishing a full 12 seconds ahead of their supposedly more experienced/favoured Cambridge rivals (Liz Box (cox)/David Nelson/Derek Rasmussen/Geoff Roth/George Nash/Hardy Cubasch/Dan Rix-Standing/Joel Jennings/Mike Thorp).
Both Simon and George are currently studying at Oriel College; Simon, fresh from finishing Medicine at Imperial, began an MSc in Orthopaedic Surgical Research in October, while George started an MBA at the same time. Never fear ICBC, Simon is due to start his time as a junior doctor at Charing Cross Hospital soon and may well be gracing the boathouse with his presence once again…
On the flip side of this victory for IC alumni is the devastation for former ICBC coach Steve Trapmore, now Head Coach of Cambridge University Boat Club, and cox Tom Fieldman. Both the Cambridge Blue Boat and Goldie (coxed by Tom) suffered heavy defeats at the hands of Oxford and Isis. We wish them better luck next year.