The Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race

That’s the best advice for anyone heading down to watch the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge. Cheer on Cambridge in light blue or Oxford in dark blue as they battle it out over the four miles and 374 yards between Putney and Mortlake.

This institution of an event combines some of the best British traditions: ancient universities, friendly rivalry and sportsmanship. Huge crowds gather along the route on both the Middlesex (northern) side of the Thames, and the Surrey (southern) side, with the busiest spots being, as one might imagine, next to the University Stones at the start at Putney and upstream at the finishing line in Mortlake. An 1829 gold sovereign is tossed to decide which side of the river each team rows. The team rowing on the Middlesex side gains an advantage on the first and final bends, whereas the team on the Surrey side can gain ground mid-race after Hammersmith Bridge. To add to the difficulty, the race is always rowed against the incoming flood tide. The women race first and then the men, who race an hour before the tide hits its peak.

Last year, Oxford’s men’s victory was a certainty long before the boats reached the Barnes Bridge; a win to help them close in on overall champions Cambridge (currently leading 82/80). However it was Cambridge who stormed to victory in the women’s race in record time, ending a run of four successive defeats.


24 March 
Women’s Race: 4.31pm 
Men’s Race: 5.31pm


Putney to Mortlake