The Boat Race 2018: Q&A with Anders Weiss
American rower Anders Weiss tells us about competing for Oxford in the 2018 Cancer Research UK Boat Race
Oxford University | St Hugh's College | Course MBA | 25yrs • 195.5cm • 91.5kg
Where are you from in the States, and what brought you to the UK? What are you studying here?
I am from Barrington, Rhode Island. I went to school at Brown University and trained with the US national team in Princeton, New Jersey after graduation. I decided after spending all my life in the Northeast that I wanted to spend time overseas while I still can. I am studying an MBA.
What got you involved in rowing, and how did you come to be a part of 2018's Boat Race?
My sister walked on at Brown University when I was a sophomore in high school. She enjoyed the experience, so I decided to try the sport and I came to love it. I showed up at Oxford and trialed. Sean Bowden decided I was OK enough to make a boat.
The first Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race took place over 180 years ago, in 1829. Is the Boat Race an event you were aware of before you arrived in the UK? What does it mean to be taking part in such a historic event, and one which Oxford and Cambridge alumni the world round take an interest in?
Brown has a history of sending a few rowers post-graduation to Oxford. The captain my senior year rowed for Cambridge in 2013, and after watching that race I knew I wanted to race in the Boat Race. The tradition and rivalry drew me in as you cannot find another race like it in the world.
Given the traditional British weather, is it more difficult to train in the UK than it is in the USA?
In some respects, yes. While you can train on the water in the winter here where I couldn’t at Brown, the constant rain and the lack of sunshine does make for some hard early mornings.
How do you prepare in terms of training for the Boat Race?
It is a race over a distance I have little experience in against a crew I have never raced. In college you would have heats and semis, so you would get a sense of relative speed. As there are so many unknowns for me, a lot of my preparation this year has been on the mental side of the race. The race course has two lanes, Surrey and Middlesex. The lanes overall are fair, but as a rower you are on the outside or the inside of the bends at different times in the race. This means you can be half a second down at one point in the race, but still be in a very good spot to win the race depending on your lane and vice versa. To prepare for this, I spend a lot of time watching past races as well as visualizing all the scenarios I can find myself in during the race.
How intense is the Oxford / Cambridge rivalry when it comes to the Boat Race?
It is incredibly intense. The race count stands at 82-80 for Cambridge, and each side is doing everything to either reverse the lead or extend it.
Although the US and UK speak a common language, given the slight differences in culture - and even US/UK terminology - how easy is it to be part of an international crew?
I actually enjoy that aspect. The differences in culture manifest themselves in how we approach training and coaching. I find these differences to be incredibly refreshing. It took a while to adjust to these differences, but after the initial difficulties I fit right in with the ‘lads’.
As an American, what do you enjoy about living and studying in the UK, and is there anything you miss about the USA whilst you're here?
I enjoy the British accents and learning the different slang. Other than my friends and family in the USA, I really miss the weather and food. I am looking forward to a Chick-fil-A trip when I am back in the States.
A big part of the Boat Race is its charitable donations - in particular to Cancer Research UK. How does it feel to take part in a sport you love whilst also being part of raising money for a great cause?
I love it. Being able to do what I love while raising funds for a just cause is truly special.
How much of an accomplishment and a personal achievement is it for you to be part of the 2018 Boat Race? Is there a big sense of pride at representing the USA in your crew at the Boat Race?
It is an incredible accomplishment for me. Ever since seeing the 2013 Boat Race I have always known I wanted to race in the Boat Race. Being able to do so is the culmination of many years of hard work.
My teammates will tell you that I love the US. I love my country, and I have loved representing it all year.
Find out about more of the Americans competing in this year's Boat Race below: