The Oxford University Women’s Boat Club (OUWBC) have announced the departure of Chief Coach Christine Wilson and the subsequent appointment of Ali Williams, following a “competitive application process”.
Wilson joined the Oxford coaching staff in the summer of 2012, following defeat for the dark blues for the first time in five years, going on to lead Oxford to four consecutive victories. The last of these triumphs was by a margin of 24 lengths on the Thames.
Remarkably, Wilson coached Oxford’s women through the historic process of joining the men’s course for the first time in 2015, with this year’s event the first to host all four races (men’s and women’s blues and reserves) on the same course on the same day.
The outgoing coach has had a formidable career, extending long before her arrival in Oxford four years ago. Wilson’s extensive coaching experience includes her posts as assistant coach to the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team and head coach of the women’s rowing team at Yale and Cornell universities, which saw her impressively becoming the first woman to coach men at a major American university rowing programme.
Wilson leaves behind in her place Ali Williams, who had assisted Wilson in the ultimately triumphant 2016 Cancer Research UK Boat Races campaign. The Australian Williams’ own career is similarly impressive, having been Head Coach for Edmonton Rowing Club, the University of Alberta, and the Canadian Junior National Development Team. Prior to her coaching experience, Williams enjoyed a successful coxing career with the University of Sydney and a variety of teams in New South Wales. Perhaps her greatest achievement is competing in the Youth Olympics where she won a medal as the cox for the Australian women’s eight team.
“I am very excited and hugely honoured to be given the opportunity to lead this fantastic club for the 2017 Boat Race season” said Williams on her appointment, “I hope to build upon the great success that we’ve seen recently that has allowed a number of our athletes to go on and represent their country at under-23 World Championship level and the Olympic Games this summer alone.
“I’ve learned so much about the intricacies of this special race and, whilst I have a lot to learn, I’m looking forward to putting this into practice for the coming season.”
Williams’ credentials will be put to the test over the following season, culminating in the 72nd Women’s Boat Race in the afternoon of Sunday 2nd April 2017, alongside the 163rd Men’s Boat Race.