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Oxford - Cambridge Boat Race
The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is a competition between teams of eight from the two oldest universities in England and takes place every year in late March or early April. Oxford row in Dark Blues and Cambridge in Light Blues
The Oxford Cambridge Boat race or the Varsity Boat Race, started life of as a simple challenge between two college friends Charles Merivale, who was studying at  Cambridge, and his schoolfriend Charles Wordsworth from Oxford. If you think Charles’s name sound familiar you are right, he was the nephew of William Wordsworth the famous English poet.

This race took place in June 1829 at Henley on Thames and this first race was won by Oxford. In 1839 the race was moved to London, and took place between Westminster and Putney. The original race was so popular that the people of Henley decided to hold their own event and that is now known as the Henley Royal Regatta.

The race continued to be held at Westminster until 1845 when it was moved to the current location, which is Westminster to Putney. This race has continued every year since then with the exception of war years.

The race was pretty evenly won by both teams until 1861, when Oxford started a long run of wins that was to last nine years. The longest winning streak was by Cambridge and they were the champions for 13 years between 1924 and 1936.
The Boat Race is said to be the toughest Eight Boat race in the world and is much tougher than Olympic races. The reasons for this are that it is over a longer distance four and a quarter miles as opposed to Olympic course at a third of that. Another reason for its legendary toughness is that it is on open water in any kind of weather that London wishes to throw at it.

There has been some cases of one or other of the boats sinking due to the heavy waves coming in to the boat. In  1912 both boats sank due to heavy waves and the race was restarted the following day with Oxford winning the rerun.
The war years were to interrupt the running of the race and it was not held between 1912 and 1919 for the First World War and 1940 and 1945 for the Second War.

The race was to be a male dominated sport until 1981 when Oxford named Sue Brown as the first ever female cox.
There was even a film made of the Boar race and this was named “True Blue”. This film came about as a result of a controversy in 1987 when some of the Oxford crew mutinied against the then Selection president over the policy of selection. Despite this problem Oxford still beat Cambridge in that years race.

Over the years there has been numerous “Clashes” between the two universities. A “Clash” is when the oars of both boats hit each other. In 2001 an Oarsman lost his oar due to a clash and the race had to be re-started.

The race starts from two stake boats moored so that the competitors' bows are in line with the University Stone on the south bank. The winner of the toss has the choice of station.

If this information has whet your appetite and you want to learn more please use the following links.
The Boat Race Official Site
Wikipedia The_Boat_Race
Photographs from Wikipedia
Possibly The Most Dramatic Boat Race Ever

Drama abounded in the 2012 Xchanging Boat Race.

A protester swam across the front of the boats causing the race to be halted until the person was apprehended and whisked away.

After the restart the two boats came extremely close together and despite warnings from the Umpire the boats clashed and an Oxford oar was broken. This of course caused Oxford to be all but reduced to seven rowers and allowed Cambridge to pull well ahead.

At the end of the Race one of the Oxford rowers had to be removed from the boat and rushed to hospital. He is said to be stable and recovering.

What a race, no end to the drama. After the race was over Oxford filed a complaint, however the Umpire pointed out that he had warned Oxford that they were not on station and thefore declared the race a win to Cambridge.

This year, due to the events in the race, there was no prizegiving ceremony.

The 2010 Xchanging Boat Race Report
Crazy Protester almost is beheaded by Oxford's Blades.
Race report and images courtesy of
The Xchanging Boat Race

Daughters of the British Empire in Tennessee

STOP Press
The 2017 Boat Race was won by Oxford after a clash of Oars left Cambridge with no possibity of retaining the Cup
The 2017 Womens Boat Race was won by Cambridge ending Oxford's four year winning streak
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