The Beginner’s Guide to The Boat Race(s)


You may not have heard, but this weekend sees a few little rowing races between Oxford and some unknown little university. In order to aid with aggressive shouting/sounding irritatingly clever/impressing Great Aunt Sybil, Cherwell proudly presents The Beginner’s Guide to The Boat Race(s).

 1. History


The first race between Oxford and Cambridge was at Henley in 1829, with Oxford winning easily. The Boat Race has been an annual fixture since 1856, save for the time during the two World Wars. Overall, Cambridge has won a total of 81 times, with Oxford trailing slightly on 78. There has been one dead heat, in 1877. 


It hasn’t been publicised at all, but this is the first year that the women’s Boat Race will be held on the same course as the men’s. The first event between Oxbridge female rowers was in 1927, when the two crews were on the river separately, and judged on style. It has been held annually since the mid 1960s, mostly at the Henley Boat Races. Overall, Cambridge has won 41 times, and Oxford 28.

 2. Course

Both races will be held over the 4 miles and 374 yards from Putney to Mortlake, on the Thames. It is S-shaped, with the fastest current at the deepest part of the river. 


 3. Tactics

The presidents toss a coin to decide who takes each station. The North Station (Middlesex) holds the advantage on the first and last bends, with the South Station (Surrey), the advantage in the middle. The coxes both want the fastest line, leading to clashes and collisions.

4. Crews

Both men and women have blue boats, in which members gain a full blue. The reserve Oxford crews are called Isis and Osiris, for men and women respectively, and for Cambridge Goldie and Blondie.

5. Pub Quiz Facts

  • The race umpire who declared the 1877  a heat was over 70 and blind in one eye, and allegedly fell asleep.
  • “The Boat Race” is cockney rhyming slang for “face”.
  • In 1978, Cambridge completely sank.
  • The tallest rowers ever have been 6 ft 9.5 inches.

The Boat Races will be broadcast on the BBC from 16:15, on 11th April.

 Always #BleedDarkBlue.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here