Sunday, 31st of March, 4:30pm (GMT) will see the start of the 159th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames in London. Make sure to tune in because if the races of the past few years are anything to go by then we are in for an exciting late afternoon!
The first race was held in 1829 and since 1856 it has been an annual event, the only exceptions being the wartime years of 1915-1919 and 1940-1945. The course covers a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) stretch of the River Thames from Putney to Mortlake. So far Cambridge have won the race 81 times and Oxford 76 times.
I have watched the race every year since 2009 (sadly only on TV, I would love to be there in person one day) and what with Oxford being one of my all-time favourite cities I’m always rooting for the Oxford boat, of course. The 2012 race was particularly dramatic for any Oxford supporter. The boats had been running neck and neck when, after about 2/3 of the course had been completed, a man had swum between the boats, apparently wanting to protest against elitism (he was jailed for 6 months shortly afterwards). Apart from the fact that he could have been killed if assistant umpire Matthew Pinsent hadn’t spotted him in time, he also completely ruined the race. It was halted for over 30 minutes, the boats had to be rowed back to Chiswick Eyot after umpire John Garrett had decided to restart it from there and not long after the restart the boats clashed, resulting in the Oxford boat losing an oar and ultimately the race by a little over 4 lengths. John Garrett ruled that this mishap was Oxford’s fault and therefore Cambridge were declared the winners, though for the first time in the race’s history without an officially recorded winning time. Oxford bow man Alex Woods collapsed in the boat from exhaustion shortly after crossing the finish line (it was kind of a miracle that Oxford lost by only 4 1/4 lengths after losing an oar, so it’s clear that their team pushed themselves beyond their limits) and had to be taken to hospital. Due to all of this the celebrations were kept short and muted and the awards ceremony was cancelled.
So after the excitement of last year I am really hoping that this year we will have an uninterrupted race with the Oxford boat crossing the finish line first! 🙂 The crews of both boats were announced a short while ago and I’m particularly excited that Constantine Louloudis will be back in the Oxford Blue Boat this year after winning a Men’s Eight bronze medal for Team GB in the 2012 Olympics (he missed the 2012 Boat Race due to training for the Olympics).
Will you be watching the race, and if so, which team are you rooting for and why?