The Boat Race 2019: Matthew Holland


Two years ago, Matthew Holland the cox for Cambridge University Women's Boat Club in 2017, beat Oxford Women's by 11 lengths, simultaneously recording a record time of 18 minutes and 33 seconds. 


Now in 2019, following in the steps of Cambridge's 2018 President Hugo Ramambason, Matthew was selected by Rob Baker to steer the Light Blue Boat down the course.


In the press conference on Friday, Matthew praised the crews racing ability by saying "I've never been in a crew full of 8 guys who just want to race." 


"[The crew] is like an elastic band, stretching and stretching and stretching, and come race day it just pings. I’ve not been in a crew where I’ve had such unbelievable confidence where I can ask for 10 big strokes, and it can just take off."


After the race, when asked did the crew release that elastic band he spoke of in the press conference, Matthew said "Oh yeah, oh yeah"


"It's always nice going down the track up, but OUBC rowed very well and put us under a lot of pressure, I was incredibly impressed with the fight Oxford put up."


Steering down the Championship Course is extremely hard and competitive, with both Matt and Toby de Mendonca attempting to put their crew in the quickest water to maximise boat speed down the track. This resulted in a clash of blades around Craven Cottage.


"It's the boat race. There’re no buoys, clashes happen. I think if there wasn't a clash, I don't think I would've been doing my job and I don't think Toby [de Monca] would've been doing his job."


"That's just how it happens. I tried to respond to the umpire as best as I could, and ultimately, it's the umpire’s race, so I tried to do what I was told but this isn't multilane racing, clashes are a part of the race."


Many people were blaming Holland's steering for the clash between both Blue Boats, but he "was happy with his position."


"The boat race is a game of give or take, and there is a line of fastest water and it isn't possible for two crews to be in the same place at once, it's not quantum mechanics."


An abrupt answer of "No" by Matt responded to claims of Cambridge being worried about the repercussions during the race for them.


"Our rhythm was very strong at that point, and I had full confidence in the bow 6 to maintain the rhythm."


Rob Baker, Head Coach at CUBC earlier in the week said the 6/7 bucket "just worked" and that was why it was in there.


Matthew explained post-race that "the 6/7 bucket helped us a lot [during the clash], as we knew we had a big hole, and we've got a fantastic rhythm in Freddie Davidson, at 7."


"The rhythm [from Freddie] was just pass it back, and I made a call about Fred taking the rhythm, 'Fred Stroking' and this allowed Natan to just focus on getting [his blade] clear."


The win for CUBC is the first back to back win for Cambridge in 20 years. Speaking about the game plan to achieve this, Matthew's simple view was just to "WIN!" 


Dara Alizadeh CUBC President added, "It was just about getting out clean and getting into the rhythm that we had practised, and just take each bit [of the race] at a time."


Cambridge University Boat Club completed a massive feat at the weekend, by winning both the Reserve and Blue Boat events for men and women. Something which is undoubtedly very hard for Oxford and Sean Bowden to come back from during a time which sees only Light Blue dominance. 


Matthew "We've got a tremendous group of guys, and if you look at the Goldie crew which one we've got loads of young freshers and first years who are really going to find their feet in the CUBC programme."


"I have confidence, that under Rob's programme, we will see a pretty strong period of Cambridge dominance."