Men's Blue Boat 1998

Celebrating 25 years – 1998 was a record-breaking year for the Men’s Blue Boat

The 1998 victorious Men’s Blue Boat recorded the fastest ever Boat Race crew, breaking the record by 26 seconds in a time of 16 minutes 19 seconds – a record that still stands today. The 5 man was Toby Wallace who learned to row at Cambridge and was the heaviest bow man ever in the 1997 race. He was sadly killed in a cycling accident in 2013 whilst riding from Land’s End to John O’ Groats for charity. The boat used in the 2014 and 2015 boat races was named ‘Toby’ in his honour and our alumni club, Crabtree, has recently named a coxless four after him.

Watch Goldie and the Men’s Blue Boat

Alistair Potts, cox for the Men’s Blue Boat, says:

“It’s our 25th anniversary this year, and we continue to hold the record on behalf of CUBC, a record which may well last another 25 years. When I steered CUWBC, with Siobhan Cassidy and Sarah Winckless, we also won in record time.”

Goldie lost to Isis in 1998. However it was a first appearance for Kieran West MBE who won Gold in the Men’s Eight at Sydney 2000. He was a Blue in 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2007, losing in 2006 to make it 3 wins in 4 appearances. He also holds the record for the largest span between first and last Boat Races. 

Both the Women’s Blue Boat and Blondie won in 1998, but the lightweight women didn’t share the victory. Brad Parr coxed the Blue Boat, having steered Blondie in 1997 and then the Men’s Lwts in 1999. Mary Hood rowed at 6, and continued to be involved with CUWBC as Senior Treasurer until the merger of the clubs in 2020.

For the Lwt Men, it was their first win since 1995. Bruce Perry and Tom Killick had been in the 1996 and 1997 losing crews before finally winning in 1998. They are therefore the only men to hold the enviable record of having been spare, disqualified, lost and finally won a Boat Race. Bruce was President of CULRC, while Tom Killick went on to be a master at St Paul’s School and taught many Old Pauline Cambridge Blues to row for the first time including Felix Craig-McFeely, Ollie Parish, Jasper Parish, Cameron Spiers and James Trotman who feature in the 2023 crews.

Lightweight Men in 1998

David Tait was in the Lwt Men’s Boat in 1998 and he says:

“We won by half a length, and it felt like a mile. We could have raced that race a hundred times, and Oxford would never have won. We didn’t win by much, but we were never going to lose. Our race-craft was exceptional. Headwinds blew around us like we weren’t there. Our catches were surgical, and the boat ran like we were going downhill. These skills were gifted to us by the many Cambridge Alum who gave their time for free; not just former Lightweight rowers, but also CUBC Blues. There are so many people I’d like to say thank you to, but I’d start with Bob Winckless, Rob Waller, Seb Dawson-Bowling, Jimmy Ball and Jon Bull; Jon raced in the record breaking crew above, but still found time to travel to Henley to support us, and watch us win.  

The crew is now spread across the globe, and meeting up is challenging. We won’t all make the race this year, but we hope to get together over the summer.” 

Bruce Perry adds:

“1998 was my fourth year. I’d been spare, lost and been disqualified and now was president. Only one other person has that accolade and was trialling with me. As president it’s just about pressure. Selection is there to be lost. But this needed to be the crew.

And it was. And frankly still is. We all stay in touch. We all know each other well and will always count on each other. Not because we won but because we enjoyed it and despite all the stresses and all the bad moves we no doubt made, all the ribbing during the process. We respected each other.”