the boat race

Rowing

The Gemini Boat Race 2024

🚣‍♀️🚣‍♂️ Oxford v Cambridge, eight rival crews and thousands of spectators lining the banks of the River Thames.  The stage is set for Saturday 30 March and 78th Women’s Boat Race and 169th Men’s Boat Race.  Racing gets underway at 2.45pm in the shadow of Putney Bridge.  

Two sporting institutions are set to go oar-to-oar once again in the most famous rowing race in the worldLast March Cambridge claimed a memorable clean sweep in the 2023 edition of The Boat Race.  In front of an estimated crowd of two hundred thousand spectators lining the banks of the River Thames, Cambridge’s men held off a dogged Oxford boat to retain the trophy with victory by just over a length.  This after the Dark Blues had won the trophy in 2022 for the first time in five years.  Earlier, Cambridge’s women put on a superlative display of rowing to make it six wins on the spin against their Oxford counterparts.  The Light Blues margin of victory was 4 and a half lengths. 

Now the stage is set for the 2024 Boat Race.

🎟️ Spectating is free on the route.  Check out the Fulham Fan Park (by the start of the race) guide here and Hammersmith Fan Park (midway through the race) guide here and see below for a map of the course followed by our introduction to the Boat Race plus 🕠 timings for the day and 📽️ exclusive interviews with members of the 2023 Oxford and Cambridge crews.

The Boat Race

INTRODUCTION

An iconic date on the UK sporting calendar the Gemini Boat Race is an annual contest between rowing crews from Oxford and Cambridge Universities on the ‘Championship Course’.  At 4 miles, 374 yards (6.8 km) long the course starts downstream of Putney Bridge before passing under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge before finishing just before Chiswick Bridge.

The first Men’s Boat Race took place in 1829 in Henley on Thames moving to London after 1836.  The first Women’s Boat Race took place in 1927 and moved to the Championship Course in 2015.  The teams compete in eight-oared rowing boats, each steered by a cox who sits in the stern or back of the boat.  The record time over the course in the men’s race is 16 minutes 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998 and for women’s race it’s 18 minutes 33 seconds set by Cambridge in 2017.

The first Men’s Boat Race took place in 1829 in Henley on Thames moving to London after 1836.  The first Women’s Boat Race took place in 1927 and moved to the Championship Course in 2015.  The teams compete in eight-oared rowing boats, each steered by a cox who sits in the stern or back of the boat.  The record time over the course in the men’s race is 16 minutes 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998 and for women’s race it’s 18 minutes 33 seconds set by Cambridge in 2017.

The Boat Race
The Boat Race Crew Announcement 2023

🕑 TIMINGS

– Fan parks open at 11am tbc. 

– 78th WOMEN’S RACE: Starts 2.46pm at Putney Bridge and will reach the finish at Chiswick Bridge shortly after 3pm. 

– Osiris v Blondie (Women’s Reserve Race): Starts 3pm tbc at Putney Bridge and will reach the finish shortly after 3.15pm tbc. 

–  Osiris v Blondie (Men’s Reserve Race): Starts 3.15pm tbc at Putney Bridge and will reach the finish at Chiswick Bridge shortly after 3.30pm tbc. 

169th MEN’S RACE: Starts 3.46pm at Putney Bridge and will reach the finish shortly after 4pm. 

CREWS & VIEWING SPOTS FOR THE BOAT RACE

🚣‍♂️🚣‍♂️ Spotting the crews

Both Cambridge crews (CUBC/CUWBC) wear light blue.  Oxford crews (OUBC / OUWBC) wear dark blue.  All four Clubs train and select the rowers and cox for their university’s crew who are all students.  The four crews are known as the Blue Boats after the award their universities give them for competing in the Race.  Both universities have reserve crews.  The men’s reserve boats are called Isis (Oxford) and Goldie (Cambridge) and the women’s reserve boats are called Osiris (Oxford) and Blondie (Cambridge).

🧐 Best viewing spots: Putney Bridge will be buzzing at the start as the crews gather for the start with the Fulham Fan Park (in Bishops Park) a perfect spot to soak up all the action.  Likewise the bridge itself and nearby banks of the River Thames offer viewing spots to watch the build-up and start of the race.  En route Hammersmith Bridge is a favourite vantage point.  This features a huge sweep of the river to view and the race reaching a critical stage as the Surrey bend comes into play.  80% of crews ahead at Hammersmith Bridge go on to win.  Hammersmith Fan Park in Furnival Gardens is recommended.  The race finishes just before Chiswick Bridge marked by the University Boat Race Stone adjacent to The Ship pub in Mortlake. 

🚊🚗 Travel tips: Once you’ve decided where to watch the race use Transport for London to plan your journey.

PRESIDENTS’ CHALLENGE & CREW ANNOUNCEMENT

The annual build-up to the race gets underway at November’s Presidents’ Challenge.  In accordance with tradition the President of the previous year’s losing crews challenge their winning counterpart to an eight-oared race over The Championship Course.  The final crews are formally announced at the Crew Announcement in early March.  Once challenges are accepted and crews confirmed the Boat Race is all set for the River Thames!

In November 2022 we spoke to Caoimhe Dempsey, President of Cambridge Women’s University Boat Club, and Tassilo von Mueller, President of Oxford University Boat Club, at the Presidents’ Challenge.  They have us an insight into their roles and what lay ahead ahead for the respective squads in the lead up to the race and how the final crews are chosen.  And at the Crew Announcement in March 2023 Oxford Women’s Alison Carrington described what it’s like to be selected for the race having only discovered rowing at university.  We also caught up with Team GB star Tom George who rowed for Cambridge in the 2022, on what it’s like to take part in the most famous boat race in the world. 

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