The Boat Race 2021: Reflections on an Exceptional Year

30th April 2021

Two Pembrokians, Jesse Oberst (MBA, 2020) and James Forward (PPE, 2020) were in the men’s crew for the Gemini Boat Race 2021 with Cambridge, following a unique year of training and preparation due to the ongoing national pandemic restrictions. 

This year’s race was held on 4th April on a stretch of the River Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire, rather than the usual location of London to discourage crowds of spectators, with the event being broadcast on BBC. Jesse was the Cox leading Oxford’s boat, whilst James was the Bow. While the crew were narrowly defeated at the last, they accomplished quite a feat even to get to the start line.

James reflected on the work and preparation that had gone into the event, commenting: “I was very excited to be a part of the Boat race in my first year at Oxford. Our preparations for the race were made difficult by Covid restrictions and lockdowns; I spent November training on the rowing machine in my college room. The race this year was obviously very different to usual due to the different venue at Ely and the lack of spectators, but it was still good to be able to have the race after its cancellation last year. Clearly it was a disappointing result for Oxford, but we were pleased to be able to have a close race."

Professor Pramila Krishnan, James’s tutor in Economics, commented: “James is one of our most talented economists; being awarded a Blue in his very first year while juggling the demands of PPE is a very impressive achievement. It was a wonderful race and we can only wish him better luck next time. And of course, a continued balancing of scholarship and sport!”

Jesse Oberst (MBA, 2020) and James Forward (PPE, 2020)
Jesse Oberst (MBA, 2020) and James Forward (PPE, 2020)