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Jack Robertson: Oxford are prepared for every scenario in Boat Race

Oxford Men during a training session on the River Thames (Adam Davy/PA)
Oxford Men during a training session on the River Thames (Adam Davy/PA)

Australian Jack Robertson is eager to make positive headlines for his country when he represents Oxford in Sunday’s Boat Race in London.

The historic event will return to its usual River Thames home after the 2021 edition took place at Ely’s River Great Ouse without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will be the 167th men’s and 76th women’s Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford this weekend with Robertson, who is studying a masters in sociology, proud to continue a long tradition of his countrymen by competing in the annual university race.

Robertson is well aware of the history behind this event and insisted his boat will be ready for any challenge during the 4.2-mile course between Putney and Mortlake in a nod to when compatriot Trenton Oldfield staged a lone protest near Chiswick Pier that produced a 30-minute delay in 2012.

“We certainly do our research and we know every few years something extremely unusual happens like that,” Robertson told the PA news agency.

“We have prepared for all these kinds of scenarios. We have watched pretty much every race back to the 70s so we are well versed in what can go wrong on boat race day from restarts, sinking, all these crazy things including a swimming protestor.

“All this kind of stuff, anything that is an external factor, will be worked with on the day because we look forward to any challenges that may be presented.”

Robertson is one of two rowers from his country involved in this year’s race with Annie Anezakis in the Oxford women’s crew.

He said: “Everyone in the rowing community in Australia is aware of the Boat Race and every couple of years we have someone in it.

Trenton Oldfield after he was pulled from the River Thames when he temporarily halted the 158th Boat Race
Trenton Oldfield after  he temporarily halted the 158th Boat Race (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“Sam Hookway won it in 2019 with Cambridge and Aussies pretty regularly appear and it is something certainly the younger rowers in Australia aspire to go on and do one day.”

The challenge facing Robertson in what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be to help Oxford end a run of three consecutive defeats.

A return to more familiar surroundings after Cambridge’s home advantage of Ely last April could help and the dark blues also weigh 35.6 kilograms more than their rivals.

“In the greater rowing community, not just Cambridge and Oxford, there is definitely a building sense of excitement that it is back at Tideway and back at this historic course,” Robertson added.

“I think because there is so much history it might carry a bit more meaning than last year’s race too.

“For someone that is new this year and looking at the historical results, that is kind of the way it goes. You have these ebbs and flows of each club winning but the pendulum swings every few years.

“It is not unusual for a club to have three, four or five wins in a row but we know the pendulum will swing for us this year and we are here to change the trend that has happened for the last three races by doing everything we can.”

Before Sunday’s race Robertson has received advice from Olympic medallist Jake Wetzel, who helped Oxford win the 2006 Boat Race.

Similarities between the pair are easy to draw after they both studied at The University of California in Berkeley during the infancy of their rowing careers.

Robertson revealed: “I actually met Jake a few years ago when I was a bit younger and he also went to where I went for my undergraduate course in the US at California, Berkeley so I have very much followed in his footsteps.

“Of course I hope to emulate his achievements and I have actually been talking to him over the last few days. He has had some good words of wisdom that have been really useful in terms of handling the pressure and rising to the occasion.”