The Boat Race is an annual rowing race contested between a crew of 8 from the rowing clubs of Cambridge University and Oxford University. The race was first held in 1829 and has grown into the world’s most famous rowing race, being held annually since 1856 (with the exception of the First and Second World Wars and Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020). A women’s event was first held in 1927 and been an annual event since 1964.
In the Men’s race, there have been 165 races with Cambridge narrowly winning more races with 84 victories compared to Oxford’s 80. There has been one dead heat in 1877 after a controversial ruling deemed both boats crossed the line at the same time. There has been 74 women’s races with Cambridge leading by 44 victories to Oxford’s 30.
Cambridge won both races in 2019 – five lengths ahead of Oxford in the women’s race and one length in the men’s race after an oar clash in the opening stages.
When is The Boat Race?
The race is held in early spring, usually the last Sunday in March or first in April. Both races are held on the same afternoon, with the Men’s race an hour and a half before high tide and the Women’s race a further hour before so that they take place with the fastest possible current.
Where is The Boat Race?
The Boat Race takes place on ‘The Championship Course’, a 4 mile and 374 yard (6.8 kilometres) course between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in south west London.
Where can I watch The Boat Race?
The Boat Race is one of the biggest free spectacles in the United Kingdom, with over 250,000 attending and can be viewed at various points across the River Thames including Putney Embankment (start line), Hammersmith and Barnes (Mid-course), and Dukes Meadow and Chiswick (finish line).
There are fan parks offering big screens, street food and bars at Bishop’s Park, Fulham and Hammersmith.
How do I get there?
The Championship Course is in the south west of London. Being in London, there are extensive transport options:
Airport: The two busiest airports in the UK serve London and between them have flights to most of the world’s prime destinations – Heathrow Airport is 14 miles to the west, with Gatwick Airport approximately 29 miles south of central London.
Alternatively, Megabus offers cheap travel to London and offers over 10 routes from Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich and Sheffield. You can search and book your tickets here.
London Underground & Trains: There are several underground and overground stations within walking distance of the course.
- Barons Court Station (District and Piccadilly) – 15 minutes walk
- Hammersmith Station (District, Piccadilly and Hammersmith & City) – 10 minutes walk
- Mortlake Rail Station (National Rail) – 5 minutes walk
- Putney Bridge (District) – 5 minutes walk
- Putney Rail Station (National Rail) – 10 minutes walk
- Ravenscourt Park Station (District) – 10 minutes walk
- Stamford Brook Station (District) – 10 minutes walk
- Turnham Green Station (Piccadilly & District) – 20 minutes walk
Putney Bridge is the best station to be at the start line, whilst Mortlake is the best for the finish line.