A YOUNG rower from York has earned a spot in Oxford’s crew for this year’s prestigious Gemini Boat Race.

Freddy Orpin will sit in the three seat for Oxford on Sunday afternoon, who will be hoping to secure back-to-back victories following their record-equalling triumph in last year’s edition.

Oxford finished the Championship Course, which spans 4 miles (6.8km) between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames, last year in a time of 16 minutes and 42 seconds, the same as their 2005 triumph.

The record time set for the Men’s Boat Race is 16 minutes and 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998.

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21-year-old Freddy, who is a former pupil of Manor Academy and Fulford School, took his first forays into rowing a decade ago at York City Rowing Club.

There, he was trained by Phil Jones, the recent recipient of the National Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s British Rowing Awards, who is set to retire at the end of this month following an illustrious career in the sport that has seen him spend 20 years as the club’s Junior Co-ordinator.

Since, Freddy has qualified for the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, an annual quadruple sculls event held as part of the Henley Royal Regatta, and won the Bradford Regatta’s Hamilton Cup alongside friend Frank.

Standing at a staggering 6ft 9in, he is the tallest competitor in this years’ race, and has been juggling training alongside the second year of his BA Geography Undergraduate degree at Oxford’s St Catherine’s College.

York Press: The Men's crew from both Oxford and Cambridge pose with the Trophy. Image: John Walton/PAThe Men's crew from both Oxford and Cambridge pose with the Trophy. Image: John Walton/PA (Image: John Walton/PA Wire)

Trials for this year’s race began in September, with Freddy’s ‘Beetle’ boat victorious in the Trial Eights in December.

He will be racing on Sunday with fellow crew Felix Drinkall, Philippe Dufour, Alex Bebb and James Forward, who participated in the 2021 race.

Describing beating Cambridge as his biggest motivation to continue rowing alongside his studies, Freddy described his dream boat of eight as “the lads back at York City RC”, and admitted that his dream place to row is “back on the Ouse at York, battling it out in single sculls”.

Parents Mark and Caroline are travelling to the Capital to watch the event, while Freddy’s siblings Will and Lulu will be tuning into the race with their grandmother back in North Yorkshire.

York Press: The Oxford Men's crew for this year's Race. Image: Zac Goodwin/PAThe Oxford Men's crew for this year's Race. Image: Zac Goodwin/PA (Image: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

“We’re very proud of Freddy”, Caroline enthused.

“Obviously there are a lot of sacrifices socially, but all his friends are really good at supporting him and understanding his commitments.

“It’s a big, big juggle of academic work and training, and they’re both vying for your attention all the time.

“Rowing is his passion. They train six days a week, so it’s a huge commitment. You have to be passionate to enjoy that.

“We’re very grateful to Phil Jones, the Press, Jamie Macleod and all at York City Rowing Club for their brilliant support over the years.

“I wouldn’t like to put a figure on it, but Phil must have coached a staggering amount of juniors in his career.

“When he’s home in the holidays, Freddy will often do a bit of coaching still with the Juniors down at York City.

“He’s still very fond of his old club, and is very much attached to it.”

The Boat Race will be broadcast live on BBC One from 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon.