The Basics

  • What is The Boat Race?
    What is The Boat Race?

    The Boat Race is an annual contest between two rowing crews from Oxford and Cambridge universities.

    The Race takes place close to Easter each year on the River Thames in West London between Putney and Mortlake.

    The first race took place in 1829 in Henley on Thames following a challenge between old school friends. Since the second race in 1836 the contest has taken place in London.

    Read more

    Oxford (L) narrowly ahead of Cambridge (R) close to the finish in 2003
  • A brief history of The Women's Boat Race
    A brief history of The Women's Boat Race

    The Women’s Boat Race has enjoyed a peripatetic existence since its foundation in 1927, only becoming a permanent fixture in the mid 1960’s. However even into that decade women’s crews faced hostility from some of their male counterparts, who didn't believe women should be allowed to row, let alone race. 

    Once the Race moved to Henley in the late 1970's there was a noticeable improvement in standards and the rivalry become a permanent feature of the Oxbridge sporting landscape.

    Oxford winning the 2011 Race in Henley
  • The Course
    The Course

    The Boat Race course, known as the Championship Course is 4 miles, 374 yards or 6.8 Km long. It stretches between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in South West London.

    The crews who win the coin toss before the race choses which side (or station) they will race on. The stations are known as Middlesex and Surrey, with advantages and disadvantages for each side because of the bends in the river.

    The Races start downstream of Putney Bridge and passes under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge before finishing just before Chiswick Bridge.

    The record time over the course in The Boat Race is 16 minutes 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998.

    Read more

  • The four crews
    The four crews

    The teams compete in eight oared rowing boats, each steered by a cox who sits in the stern or back of the boat. The cox is the only crew member who faces in the direction they are moving.

    All four Clubs train and select the rowers and cox for their university's crew. All of the crew members are students.

    The four crews are known as the Blue Boats after the award their universities give them for competing in the race. Both universities have reserve crews.  For the men, Oxford's reserve boat is called Isis, Cambridge's is called Goldie, and they will race half an hour before the Blue Boats.  The women's reserve crews, Osiris (Oxford) and Blondie (Cambridge).

    Both Cambridge crews wear light blue, whilst Oxford's wear dark blue. 

    Read more

    The 2014 Cambridge crews
  • The Cancer Research UK Boat Races
    The Cancer Research UK Boat Races

    For the 2016 & 2017 Boat Races, sponsors BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management have donated their title sponsorship to Cancer Research UK.

    This is a landmark move, the first of its type, which will hopefully see the awareness of CRUK's work continue to increase over the two year initiative.

    Boat Races athletes with Helena Morrissey, Sir Harpal S. Kumar and Michael Cole-Fontayn
  • Where to watch The BNY Mellon Boat Races
    Where to watch The BNY Mellon Boat Races

    The Boat Races are one of the biggest free sporting events in London. See them from one of the many vantage points along the riverbank such as Putney, Hammersmith, Barnes or Chiswick.

    Boat Races in the Park events in Bishops Park, Fulham and Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith feature big screens plus merchandising stalls and bars.

    In the UK, the Races are shown live on BBC1 and streamed on the BBC iPlayer.

    More watching information will be published closer to the Races.

    Crowds on Hammersmith Embankment for The 2010 Boat Race