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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boat race result - Oxford wins

Oxford wins the 154th boat race - overall score Cambridge 79, Oxford 74

The 154th boat race took place yesterday, and it was Oxford who enjoyed a comfortable win. I mistakenly reported that Cambridge were favourites (based on bookmaker odds I had seen - presumably a hive of Cambridge patriotism skewing the odds), but Oxford were really the favourite boat (heavier, more experienced, more pedigree - including the oldest ever rower in Boat Race history at 36 - Mike Wherley of the USA).

The race itself would make fascinating physiological analysis; I wish rowers could, in real time, monitor power output and efficiency, for the Boat Race would throw up some fascinating information, because of the bends in the River Thames, the importance of the inside line dictates tactics, such that teams are "forced" to throw in supra-maximal efforts to grab it and defend their water.

Oxford got the better start, but only marginally. They had the inside line, but the key was to take the lead at the Surrey bend. So Cambridge worked incredibly hard to keep Oxford from getting a full boat length lead, to "keep their water". Cambridge managed to do this, and actually grabbed the lead (by 1 second) at the Hammersmith Bridge. 80% of boats leading at this landmark win the race, but not yesterday. As soon as the Surrey bend had unwound, Oxford retook the lead, and this time, opened it up and soon it became insurmountable.

So the "stochastic" nature of the event would make for fascinating data, and I'd love to see data on the physiology of the Boat Race. If anyone has access to that, do let us know, I think it would make a great post or two! As for rowing, there's definitely a lot to write in this Olympic year.

Enjoy the Cross country race later today (at Holyrood Park - I mistakenly referred to it Holybrook, which is not even a real place!)



Jamie said...

HI Ross

It is possible to get some quite detailed data from rowing if you have the budget

Check out the following system as an example of what is available.


Obviously it would be a matter of transmitting this data in real time to the broadcasters and then have them sort out what is interesting to spectators.

It can get quite complicated as it is not just the magnitude of the forces that is important but where those forces are applied (i.e the shape of the force time curve is important) as well ss the co-ordination of the forces i.e. the application of force on the footboard relative to the oar angle and spoon entry into the water


Anonymous said...

How come the scores don't add up to the total number of races: 79+74 = 153, not 154?

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

HI Asher

In 1877, there was a dead heat between the crews. I mentioned this race in the post immediately before this one - the race was actually recorded "by six feet to Oxford", but because of the lack of photo equipment, it's gone down as a dead heat.

So in theory, the overall score should read 79.5 - 74.5! But it's never reported that way!