One Rivalry, Over 50 Races

James Lee Coaching The Boat Race

The four Chief Coaches who are coaching the Blue Boats for this Sunday's Boat Race have coached crews to over 50 different Varsity Boat Races between them over the years. And the beauty is, whilst the rivalry never changes, the race is always different.

Sean Bowden, is a"veteran" of Boat Race coaching. Prior to joining Oxford in 1997, Sean won two races with Cambridge in 1993 and 1994. He then went on to international duties, coaching the Great Britain Men’s eight to the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 before joining Oxford University Boat Club in 1997. Sean’s first win in 2000 put an end to Cambridge’s seven-year winning streak and his crews have won 11 races since. 

Sean's counterpart, Rob Baker, has seen the race from many angles. Rob began his involvement with the Boat Race in 2001 as Assistant Coach for Cambridge University Boat Club, coaching the reserve crew “Goldie” to multiple wins during his seven years of service. In 2009 he moved to lead Rowing Ireland's U23 programme, returning to Cambridge in 2012 to become the first full-time Chief Coach for the Women's Squad as they prepared to move to the Tideway. Baker oversaw a programme which led CUWBC to dominant wins in 2017 and 2018 in both Blue Boat and Reserve Races. In April 2018 it was announced that he would switch to take up the role of Chief Coach for the Men where he maintained Cambridge's winning streak with wins for the Blue Boat and Goldie in the 2019 races.


As Baker moved to the other end of the office in the Goldie Boathouse, a new Rob entered the fold, with Rob Weber arriving from Hamilton College, New York to become Chief Coach of the Cambridge Women. Weber is yet to be part of a full boat race season having arrived part way through the 2018-19 campaign and then seeing the cancellation of the 2020 Boat Race.


Similar to Rob Baker, Andy Nelder has also prepared crews for boat races from various roles. Andy served as Assistant Coach to OUBC from 2006 to 2018. In those 11 years, he coached the reserve crew, “Isis” to an impressive 9 wins including 7 consecutive victories from 2011 to 2017. In June 2017, it was announced that Andy would move to the women’s programme to take up the position of Chief Coach, the position he holds today. Ahead of his involvement with the openweight boat races, Andy was Head Coach of the Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club. During his tenure, Oxford won the Lightweight Men’s Boat Race all 5 years, a Club record that still stands.


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