A Guide To The Oxford And Cambridge University Boat Race

A Guide To The Oxford And Cambridge University Boat Race



I have been fascinated with the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge University for as​ long as​ I can remember. I didn’t attend any of​ these top two British Universities, nor do I have an​ avid enthusiasm for rowing but this traditional race of​ the two boats over exactly 4 miles and 374 yards still holds a​ fascination for me. I am not alone as​ the televised event is​ broadcast, from the historic River Thames, to​ hundreds of​ countries and has an​ audience of​ millions. The idea for the boat race between these paragons of​ academia was dreamt up by two students, both named Charles, funnily enough. Charles Merivale was at​ Cambridge University and Charles Wordsworth was at​ Oxford.

Cambridge issued their challenge to​ Oxford on March 12th 1829. Ever since then, it​ has been a​ tradition for the loser of​ a​ year’s race to​ challenge the other boat to​ a​ rematch the following year.

On 10th June 1829, thousands of​ enthusiastic people descended on the small town of​ Henley-on-Thames in​ Oxfordshire. They were there to​ witness the first ever staging of​ the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge’s best rowing teams. in​ a​ rather embarrassing turn of​ events the race had to​ be stopped shortly after both boats had begun to​ be rowed. it​ was restarted and Oxford was the winner of​ the first boat race against Cambridge.

One thing that I didn’t realise about the Boat Race until fairly recently was that the members of​ both crews do not get any special dispensation as​ far as​ their studies go. if​ they can’t keep up with their academic commitments then the students must resign from that year’s boat squad.

The Boat Race is​ on a​ Sunday in​ March or​ April and the main event is​ preceded by a​ competition between Isis and Goldie. These are the reserve boats for Oxford and Cambridge in​ that order. About half an​ hour later the Blue Boats, as​ the first teams of​ each University are known, takes place. Cambridge is​ light blue and Oxford dark blue.




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