Oxford’s men’s rowers have made the unusual step of making a last-minute switch to their Boat Race crew.
Joshua Bugajski, who also rowed in Oxford’s 2016 defeat and 2017 victory, was replaced in the boat by Benedict Aldous despite recovering from an unspecified illness.
A statement from Oxford University Boat Club [OUBC] read: “Joshua [Bugajski] fell ill and during this time was replaced by Benedict [Aldous].
“The decision was made by the coach, Sean Bowden, to keep Benedict in the boat as it was performing well. Benedict will sit at 6 and Anders Weiss will move to 4.”
The move is surprising on multiple counts.
Firstly, it is unusual for a rower not to return to the boat after recovering from illness; and Bugajski will not even row for Oxford’s reserve boat.
Furthermore, it means that Oxford have lost their heaviest rower from a crew that was already 7lb per man lighter than Cambridge’s.
Finally, it has caused a reshuffle in seat positions. As confirmed by the OUBC statement, US Olympian Anders Weiss has moved to seat four, while Aldous returns to seat six.
Bugajski, who came seventh in a pair with GB and Brookes rower Matthew Tarrant at the GB Rowing 3rd Assessment in February, was reportedly set to join the senior national team at Caversham after the Boat Races.
Aldous, who was part of the winning Isis boat last year, rowed in the GB junior men’s eight at the Junior World Championships alongside Felix Drinkall, Oxford’s stroke.
He also competed at Munich International Junior Regatta in 2016 alongside both Drinkall and Freddie Davidson who is stroking the Cambridge crew this year.
Aldous, an engineering student, made national headlines last year when he was banned from JCR events at his college, Christ Church, after attending a ‘2016’-themed bop dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Oxford go into the men’s Boat Race as firm underdogs, with some bookmakers offering prices of 2/5 for a Cambridge victory.