Each year The Boat Race Umpires are chosen from a panel of Old Blues, comprising three members from each University. This season the honour of choosing the officials, from the opposing side, lay with Oxford University Boat Club.
For the 158th Boat Race we will therefore see Cambridge Old Blues John Garrett and Richard Phelps take on the role of Umpire for The Boat Race and Isis/Goldie races respectively.
John Garrett, who rowed for Cambridge 3 times from 1983-85 and was President in 1985, will take on the honour of umpiring The Boat Race. He has had previous experience as a Boat Race Umpire in 1994 & 2008. Garrett was also Isis/Goldie Umpire in 1990, 2004 and 2006. Commenting on his appointment Garrett said; “I’m really looking forward to being closely involved again. Each Race brings its own specific challenges for the Umpire as well as the crews, and I am sure we’ll see in 2012 another great contest between the two Universities on the Tideway.”
A Boat Race Umpire plays a crucial role not only on Race Day but also in the weeks and months leading up to the Race. They not only officiate at the trials and club fixtures during the season but also oversee certain key events during Tideway Week.
Tideway Week is the final week leading up to The Boat Race and sees both University Boat Clubs training daily on the Championship Course. The Umpires will attend many of these training sessions and will oversee the all important practice starts and cox rehearsal, allowing them to guide the coxes on the line they expect the crews to take during the Race.
Richard Phelps has been announced as the Umpire for the Isis/Goldie race and spoke of his excitement; “I’m really looking forward to umpiring my third Isis/Goldie race; each one is unique albeit with obvious similarities. By the time I call “Go” on both crews, in seven months time, all the rowers will have suffered a lot of miles, sweat and emotion. My job is to make sure it’s a fair, clean race and that the best crew wins. As ever, I look forward to the task and getting to know the athletes involved.” Phelps also rowed for Cambridge 3 times from 1993-95, winning all 3 Races and was Cambridge President for his final Race in 1995. Although he hasn’t yet umpired The Boat Race, he has been Assistant Umpire in 2004, 2009 & 2011.
The 158th Boat Race – sponsored by Xchanging, the business process and technology services provider, will take place at 14:15 on Saturday, 7 April 2012