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Boat Race

From Academic Kids

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Exhausted crews at the finish of the 2002 Boat Race
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Exhausted crews at the finish of the 2002 Boat Race

The Boat Race is a rowing race between the rowing clubs of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. It is rowed annually each Spring on the River Thames in London, England. The event is an extremely popular one, not only with the alumni of the universities, but also with rowers in general and those with no connection at all. It's estimated that a quarter of a million people watch the race from the river banks. The first race was in 1829 and it has been held annually since 1856 with the exception of the war years.

Members of both teams are traditionally known as blues and the boats as blue boats, with Cambridge being represented as light blue, and Oxford as dark blue.

The course is 4 miles and 374 yards (6,779 m) from Putney to Mortlake, passing Barnes and Hammersmith. The race is for heavyweight eights (i.e. for eight rowers with a cox steering, and no restrictions on weight). The race is timed so that the rowers row with the tide (but against the usual stream of the Thames). The course for the main part of the races' history has been from Putney to Mortlake, but there have been a few other courses:

In addition, there were four unofficial boat races held during World War II away from London - 1940 (Henley-on-Thames), 1943 (Sandford-on-Thames), 1944 (River Ouse, Ely), and 1945. As none of those competing were awarded blues, these races are not included in the official list.

The tradition was started by Charles Merivale, a student at Cambridge, and his schoolfriend Charles Wordsworth who was at Oxford. Cambridge challenged Oxford to a race, and the challenge was repeated the next year. The tradition continues, with the loser challenging the winner to a re-match annually.

The event is now a British national institution, and is televised live each year. As of the 2005 race, the BBC will hand over broadcasting rights to ITV, after 66 years. The race has been won by Cambridge 78 times and Oxford 72. The race in 1877 was declared a dead heat. Legend in Oxford has it that the judge, "Honest John" Phelps, was asleep under a bush as the crews came by leading him to announce the result as a "dead heat to Oxford by four feet", but this is not borne out by contemporary reports. The 2003 race was amongst the closest in history, with Oxford winning by less than a foot. One entertainment for spectators is the possibility of a boat sinking. This has occurred on three occasions; to the Oxford crew in 1925 and to Cambridge in 1859 and in 1978.

Though the contest is strictly speaking between amateurs and indeed the competitors must be students of the university for whom they race, the training schedules each team undertakes are very gruelling. Typically each team trains for six days a week for six months before the event. Such is the competitive spirit between the universities it is common for Olympic standard rowers to compete, including notably four times Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent who rowed for Oxford in 1990, 1991, and 1993. This has led to unproven accusations that these students are admitted entrance to university not because of their academic ability but rather their rowing skill.

Although the heavyweight mens eights are the main draw, the two universities compete in other rowing boat races. The main boat race is preceded by a race between the two reserve crews, (called "Isis" for Oxford and "Goldie" for Cambridge). The women's eights, women's reserve eights, men's lightweight eights (and reserves), and women's lightweight eights race in the Henley Boat Races on a different day.

Contents

Build-up

Training for the boat race officially begins in September (when university term starts). The first tests are in November at the British Indoor Rowing Championships where each university sends around 20 rowers to compete. Everyone races 2 km on an indoor rower with the club presidents using adjacent machines. Both universities also send crews to the Fours Head race in London which is raced in reverse over the Boat Race course.

In December, the coaches put out Trial Eights where two crews from the same university race each other over the full boat race course. These crews are given names - in 2005 Cambridge named theirs Kara and Whakamanawa (Maori words for strength and honour) and Oxford's were called Cowboys and Indians.

Over the christmas period the squads go on training camps abroad, where final places for the blue boats are decided. After the final blue boat crews have been decided they race against the top crews from the UK and abroad (e.g. in recent years they have raced Leander, Molsey, and the German international crew). These races are only over part of the course (from Putney to Chiswick Eyot).

In case of injury or illness, each university has two extra rowers (called the spare pair). In the week before the main event they race each other from the mile post to university stone (1 mile long). In the final week, there is also an official weigh in and the average crew weights announced.

Trivia

Results

  • Cambridge: 78 wins
  • Oxford: 72 wins
  • Dead heats: 1
Date Winner Time
June 10, 1829 Oxford 14.03
June 17, 1836 Cambridge 36.00
April 3, 1839 Cambridge 31.00
April 15, 1840 Cambridge 29.03
April 14, 1841 Cambridge 32.03
June 11, 1842 Oxford 30.01
March 15, 1845 Cambridge 23.03
April 3, 1846 Cambridge 21.05
April 29, 1849 Cambridge 22.00
December 15, 1849 Oxford foul
April 3, 1852 Oxford 21.36
April 8, 1854 Oxford 25.29
March 15, 1856 Cambridge 25.45
April 4, 1857 Oxford 22.05
March 27, 1858 Cambridge 21.23
April 15, 1859 Oxford 24.04
March 31, 1860 Cambridge 26.05
March 23, 1861 Oxford 23.03
April 12, 1862 Oxford 24.04
March 28, 1863 Oxford 23.06
March 19, 1864 Oxford 21.04
April 8, 1865 Oxford 21.24
March 24, 1866 Oxford 25.35
April 13, 1867 Oxford 22.39
April 4, 1868 Oxford 20.56
March 17, 1869 Oxford 20.04
April 6, 1870 Cambridge 22.04
April 1, 1871 Cambridge 23.01
March 23, 1872 Cambridge 21.15
March 29, 1873 Cambridge 19.35
March 28, 1874 Cambridge 22.35
March 20, 1875 Oxford 22.02
April 8, 1876 Cambridge 20.02
March 24, 1877 Dead Heat 24.08
April 13, 1878 Oxford 22.15
April 5, 1879 Cambridge 21.18
March 22, 1880 Oxford 21.23
April 8, 1881 Oxford 21.51
April 1, 1882 Oxford 20.12
March 15, 1883 Oxford 21.18
April 7, 1884 Cambridge 21.39
March 28, 1885 Oxford 21.36
April 3, 1886 Cambridge 22.03
March 26, 1887 Cambridge 20.52
March 24, 1888 Cambridge 20.48
March 30, 1889 Cambridge 20.14
March 26, 1890 Oxford 22.03
March 21, 1891 Oxford 21.48
April 9, 1892 Oxford 19.01
March 22, 1893 Oxford 18.45
March 17, 1894 Oxford 21.39
March 30, 1895 Oxford 20.05
March 28, 1896 Oxford 20.01
April 3, 1897 Oxford 19.12
March 26, 1898 Oxford 22.15
March 25, 1899 Cambridge 21.04
March 31, 1900 Cambridge 18.45
March 30, 1901 Oxford 22.31
March 22, 1902 Cambridge 19.09
April 1, 1903 Cambridge 19.33
March 26, 1904 Cambridge 21.37
April 1, 1905 Oxford 20.35
April 7, 1906 Cambridge 19.25
March 16, 1907 Cambridge 20.26
April 4, 1908 Cambridge 19.02
April 3, 1909 Oxford 19.05
March 23, 1910 Oxford 20.14
April 1, 1911 Oxford 18.29
April 1, 1912 Oxford 22.05
March 13, 1913 Oxford 20.53
March 28, 1914 Cambridge 20.23
March 28, 1920 Cambridge 21.11
March 30, 1921 Cambridge 19.45
April 1, 1922 Cambridge 19.27
March 24, 1923 Oxford 20.54
April 5, 1924 Cambridge 18.41
Date Winner Time
March 28, 1925 Cambridge 21.05
March 27, 1926 Cambridge 19.29
April 2, 1927 Cambridge 20.14
March 31, 1928 Cambridge 20.25
March 23, 1929 Cambridge 19.24
April 12, 1930 Cambridge 19.09
March 21, 1931 Cambridge 19.26
March 19, 1932 Cambridge 19.11
April 1, 1933 Cambridge 20.57
March 17, 1934 Cambridge 18.03
April 6, 1935 Cambridge 19.48
April 4, 1936 Cambridge 21.06
March 24, 1937 Oxford 22.39
April 2, 1938 Oxford 20.03
April 1, 1939 Cambridge 19.03
March 30, 1946 Oxford 19.54
March 29, 1947 Cambridge 23.01
March 27, 1948 Cambridge 17.05
March 26, 1949 Cambridge 18.57
April 1, 1950 Cambridge 20.15
March 26, 1951 Cambridge 20.05
March 29, 1952 Oxford 20.23
March 28, 1953 Cambridge 19.54
April 3, 1954 Oxford 20.23
March 26, 1955 Cambridge 19.01
March 24, 1956 Cambridge 18.36
March 30, 1957 Cambridge 19.01
April 5, 1958 Cambridge 18.15
March 28, 1959 Oxford 18.52
April 2, 1960 Oxford 18.59
April 1, 1961 Cambridge 19.22
April 7, 1962 Cambridge 19.46
March 23, 1963 Oxford 20.47
March 28, 1964 Cambridge 19.18
April 3, 1965 Oxford 18.07
March 26, 1966 Oxford 19.12
March 25, 1967 Oxford 18.52
March 30, 1968 Cambridge 18.22
April 5, 1969 Cambridge 18.04
March 28, 1970 Cambridge 20.22
March 27, 1971 Cambridge 17.58
April 1, 1972 Cambridge 18.36
March 7, 1973 Cambridge 19.21
April 6, 1974 Oxford 17.35
March 29, 1975 Cambridge 19.27
March 20, 1976 Oxford 16.58
March 19, 1977 Oxford 19.28
March 25, 1978 Oxford 18.58
March 17, 1979 Oxford 20.33
April 5, 1980 Oxford 19.02
April 4, 1981 Oxford 18.11
March 27, 1982 Oxford 18.21
April 2, 1983 Oxford 19.07
March 18, 1984 Oxford 16.45
April 6, 1985 Oxford 17.11
March 29, 1986 Cambridge 17.58
March 28, 1987 Oxford 19.59
April 2, 1988 Oxford 17.35
March 25, 1989 Oxford 18.27
March 31, 1990 Oxford 17.22
March 30, 1991 Oxford 16.59
April 4, 1992 Oxford 17.44
March 27, 1993 Cambridge 17.00
March 26, 1994 Cambridge 18.09
April 1, 1995 Cambridge 18.04
April 6, 1996 Cambridge 16.58
March 29, 1997 Cambridge 17.38
March 28, 1998 Cambridge 16.19
April 3, 1999 Cambridge 16.41
March 25, 2000 Oxford 18.04
March 24, 2001 Cambridge 17.44
March 30, 2002 Oxford 16.54
April 6, 2003 Oxford 18.06
March 28, 2004 Cambridge 18.47
March 27, 2005 Oxford 16.42

Unofficial Wartime Races

Date Location Winner
1940 Henley-on-Thames Cambridge
1943 Sandford-on-Thames Oxford
1944 River Ouse, Ely Oxford
1945 Unknown Unknown

Statistics

  • Course Record: Cambridge 1998, 16 min 19 s
  • Heaviest crew: Oxford 2005, 15 st 16 lb (98.35 kg) average
  • Tallest rower: Josh West, Cambridge 1999/2000/2001/2002, 6 ft 9.5 in (2.07 m)
  • Tallest crew: Cambridge 1999, 6 ft 6.3 in (1.98 m) average

External links

nl:Boat Race

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