LONDON - Former Columbia lightweight rowing coxswain Oskar Zorrilla ‘10CC will join Oxford's eight in the Blue Boat when they take on Cambridge in one of Europe's biggest rowing events, The BNY Mellon Boat Race on March 31.

It is believed that Zorrilla is just the second Lions' rower/coxswain to earn a spot in the prestigious event, joining heavyweight rower Aaron Marcovy ‘05CC, who was named an oarsman for the 2008 race. He is also the first competitor of Colombian decent to participate in the event and will look to help Oxford claim the title for the ninth time in the last 15 years.

Zorrilla spent two years coxing at Columbia from 2006-08, spent his junior year studying at the London School of Economics, and returned for his senior season to cox in 2009-10. Upon his graduation, Zorrilla enrolled at Oxford.

"Racing in The Boat Race is the peak of public accomplishment for student rowers and coxswains," said Columbia lightweight rowing coach Scott Alwin. "It has the visibility and attention of a BCS Bowl Game, but its participants all have the intellectual capacity equivalent to students in the Ivy League."

The Boat Race is a physically demanding regatta, spanning 4.25 miles on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake. Zorrilla's job may not have the physical challenges of the oarsmen, but requires top-notch boatmanship, steering, strategy, and decision-making skills.

"The British take a unique pride in the race partly because the venue is so challenging," Alwin stated. "They think only a coxswain with lots of experience on the Thames is prepared for the churning tides, shifting currents and motorized boat traffic surrounding the racing crews. Oskar is among the most academically gifted and professionally motivated student-athletes I have ever coached. If the Oxford coaches visited one of our practices on the Harlem, they'd understand how ready Oskar has been for this race."

In its 159th year of existence, The Boat Race sees an estimated 250,000 spectators take in the event in person, and millions more watch on television.