Burgeoning squad of talent drives on Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club

PUBLISHED: 19:31 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:31 01 March 2018

Difficult calls for Blue boat for Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race

Rob Baker has revealed that selection for the Cambridge University women’s Blue boat for the Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race went right down to the wire.

It was a successful year for the Light Blues in 2017 as they earned a whitewash, taking victory in all five races across the club against their Oxford rivals.

There has been no resting on their laurels though, as the club have been eager to build on the programme that has developed in recent years.

Imogen Grant, Myriam Goudet-Boukhatmi and Alice White return from last year’s victorious crew, while Thea Zabell is back after winning a Blue in 2016, making the step up from Blondie in 2017, along with Tricia Smith.

Olivia Coffey will stroke the crew having won world championship gold with the American quad in 2015, while Kelsey Barolak and Paula Wesselman complete the eight, which will be coxed by Sophie Shapter.

“We’ve got a lot of new people in so it is a case in some senses of getting them to row better and in other senses changing what they do quite a lot; and that takes a bit of time,” said CUWBC chief coach Baker.

“We’re starting to see that come together now. You know it will, but until it does that’s always the challenging process, really.

“It’s hopefully a mark of our system that they come through the club, but we need the good talent from outside as well, and that’s what helps the talent that’s come from within the squad improve as well and makes the whole process challenging; it’s the beautiful part about coaching a Boat Race team.”

In something of a rarity, CUWBC president Daphne Martshenko will row in a particularly strong looking Blondie reserve crew, alongside former double world junior champion Anne Beenken, among others

“It’s gone to the wire, really,” said Baker. “We could have had a number of people in the Blue boat, it’s not one or two that have been close, it’s been a really large number.

“We’re going to have a great Blondie boat this year, they are going to be super competitive. It’s where we want to be with our team – we want two strong crews.

“You have to bide the time to see who progresses and make the selection decisions at the right time, and allow people to make the changes that we want them to make.

“The speed really rolls on from here. We didn’t rush to put a boat out, we didn’t put it out too early so it means there is still that scope to keep moving on.”

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