Cantab DC Light Blue  

The 2013 Potomac Boat Race Brings Rain and Victory

By Ariane Rosen

This year’s Cambridge-Oxford Potomac Boat Race took place on Saturday, September 21, 2013. This annual event is a cornerstone tradition for the Washington, D.C. alumni. It was greeting with the usual enthusiasm and cheers from the banks of the river as everyone eagerly cheered on their University teams, continuing a proud rivalry begun in England long ago.

This year’s rowing season was an unparalleled success for Cambridge, even before race day. Our dedicated rowers were out on the river early every Saturday morning, often in more than one boat. A core group of fervent regular rowers along with a rotation of additional rowers gave our team an opportunity to reach racing form in record time. By the end of the summer, for example, the women’s IV was completing work outs that would have left the most seasoned rowers panting.

The dedication of our two coxswains, Jennifer Bitting (Hughes) and Aaron Coble (King’s), allowed us to consistently take out two boats and even compete in practice races. Our Captain, Blair Lapres (Darwin) made sure the boats were full and our Coach, Jonathan, got us into shape. The Cambridge rowers had a fun summer enjoying being out on the water and coming together as a team. In the end, their hard work definitely paid off.

Come race day, the Cambridge team was ready to go and feeling much more confident about their chances against the stacked Oxford team than usual. While some might have taken the gloomy skies as a bad omen, for us it just made the day feel a bit more like England. Another perk of the approaching rain was that it forced the Oxford team, historically known to dawdle on their way to the starting line, to show up on time.

Joining the Light Blue and Dark Blue Men’s VIII this year for the first time was a Light Blue Mixed VIII. The two Cambridge boats left the Oxford crew a bit confused at first but all three boats were soon lined up and ready for the first race. The Dark Blue VIII was full of rowers adorned in official Oxford gear, clearly more than recreational rowers. It was no surprise that they won this race, but it definitely was not the shut-out it usually was.

The Light Blue Men’s VIII kept pressure on the Oxford team, finishing a mere boat length behind the near expert team. The Mixed VIII also performed admirably, completing a smooth race. The spectators had a chance to see a strong display from all three crews.

When the VIII race was finished, Aaron jumped out of the Mixed VIII and jumped into another boat to cox the women’s crew. Rain began to fall as the women took their places. The Light Blue IV not only braved the weather, but won the race. While complaints of a rogue sculler came from the Dark Blue team, to the coach and spectators it was clear that the Cambridge team was the winner, having maintained a lead during most of the race. The women’s hard work led to a definitive success.

While the rain continued and the spectators huddled under the shelter at Nick’s Riverside Grill, drinking beer and cheering loudly, the Light Blue Past Master’s IV headed out to the starting line. Most had already rowed in the Men’s VIII race. The Past Masters rowed the course uncontested, taking their time and savoring their assured victory. The boat passed the finish line and made it official, Cambridge had won two out of the three races. The Cup of Destiny now rightfully belonged to Cambridge!

Eager for a celebration, Oxbridge rowers and spectators headed over to the Ritz-Carlton for some Pimms and conversation. The bar was filled with pleasant banter and laughter, including the occasional well-earned jibe at the Other School. During the festivities, our first ever Christmas Formal Hall was announced and our victorious rowers posed for photos with the Cup of Destiny.

Overall, with four boats racing and a strong win, Cambridge made a great showing at this year’s Potomac Boat Race. It’ll be exciting to see what happens next year! 

To learn more about the Cantab DC Boat Club or to join next year’s crew, read our Call for Rowers and ask to place you on the Boat Club email list. Pictures of the event can be viewed online, as can the event programme, and videos of the Mens/Mixed, Womens, and Past Masters Races.


The Cantab DC Boat Club is proudly sponsored by Sterling and Burke Ltd., a retailer of British and American Heritage Brands specializing in Bespoke leather goods for men and women, hand stitched in the UK; located in Historic Georgetown at 2824 Pennsylvania Avenue it carries a wide range of leather accessories, cufflinks, enamels, trunks, leathre books, art, and other distinctive gifts. 



Light Blue Crews

Men’s VIII

Cox: Jennifer Bitting - Hughes

David Wilson - Gonville & Caius

Bill Kynes - St. John’s

Bill Samii - Darwin

Chris Greenroyd - St. John’s

Richard Rutherford - Corpus Christi

Mike Gaw - Pembroke

Blair Lapres - Darwin

Jeff Pryce - Peterhouse


Women’s IV

Cox: Aaron Coble - King’s

Anya Jones - Fitzwilliam

Laura Blecha - St. Edmund’s

Alexandria Richart - Clare Hall

Erin Weber - Newnham


Mixed VIII

Cox: Aaron Coble - King’s

Havard Halland - Wolfson

Philip Romanelli - Girton

Mae Wu - Queens’

Kedar Narayan - Christ’s

Ariane Rosen - Clare Hall

Robert Forte - Selywn

Ata Akiner - Sidney Sussex

Daniel Gallagher - Clare College


Past Master’s IV

Cox: Jennifer Bitting - Hughes

David Wilson - Gonville & Caius

Bill Kynes - St. John’s

Chris Thompson - St. Catharine's

Jeff Pryce - Peterhouse



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