LONDON -- Oxford, with two Americans in the crew, rates a slight favorite to beat Cambridge Saturday and bring home its 10th straight University Boat Race title.
Going into the racse Oxford has a weight advantage of nearly two years and four pounds a man for the annual duel over the choppy waters of the River Thames. The Dark Blues have four men with Boat Race experience, but Cambridge appears to have the manpower for an upset.
Bruce Philip, who gained his colors for Cambridge and will become the first man in the 157-year-history of the race to have rowed for both universities, has a seat in the Oxford boat. The craft will also have two Americans -- cox Seth Lesser and stroke Francis Reininger -- and Australian Graeme Jones.
Cambridge, with Canadian Olympic coach Neil Campbell helping in its preparations, have three men with race experience, including Olympians John Garrett and John Pritchard. Canadian Geoff Barnard adds to the power stroke.
Cambridge also is breaking new ground with its first woman cox. She is Henrietta Shaw, the daughter of Britain's Home Affairs Minister Giles Shaw.
The Light Blues, who lead the series 68-61 with one dead heat, are looking for their first win since 1975 in the annual 4 mile 374 yard Putney to Mortlake course on the Thames. And they have looked impressive in training.
Campbell is a tough uncompromising motivator who led the Canadian eight to the Olympic title in Los Angeles and had the Light Blues under a rigorous training regime during the winter.
Reininger, a 25-year-old oarsman from Seattle, Wash., who in 1983 stroked the United States coxed four to victory and gold medal honors, is not worried about Campbell's return to the arena.
'Campbell has given them an initial boost,' he said. 'He will certainly give them a psychological boost again, but it is the rowing that counts. If they are not rowing well on the day there is actually nothing he can do for them.'
Oxford is coached by Dan Topolski who has led Oxford to its nine successive wins and aims to equal Cambridge's record run of 13 straight wins between 1924-36.
The Dark Blues won comfortably last year when the race was delayed by a day after Cambridge rammed its boat on a barge just before the start.