10 things you didn’t know
About the Boat Race
Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race
Congratulations to Oxford – the 2011 Boat Race winners!
In England, how do we know when Spring is coming? Sunshine, lambs in the fields, daffodils in bloom …? No, we know it’s Spring when it’s time for The Boat Race!
You may have heard about this famous annual race, between Oxford and Cambridge University, but did you know:
- Its full name is the University Boat Race, or the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, but just say the two words ‘Boat Race‘ to any British person, and they will know exactly what you mean.
- The tradition was started in 1829 by two friends, one at Oxford and one at Cambridge, and has been held annually ever since (except during the two world wars).
- It usually takes place on the last Saturday of March, or the first Saturday of April.
- Members of both teams are known as blues, with Cambridge being light blue, and Oxford dark blue.
- The course of the race is 4 miles and 374 yards (6.779km) and goes from Putney to Mortlake, on the River Thames.
- The current record time is 16 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Cambridge in 1998.
- Before the race begins, the presidents of the two boat clubs toss a coin – a gold sovereign dated 1829 – and the winner chooses which side of the river (called a ‘station’) they will row on. The north station is called ‘Middlesex’ and the south station is called ‘Surrey’.
- Each year, after the race, the losing team challenges the winning team to a rematch.
- Only once, in 1877, has the race been declared a dead heat.
- To date, Cambridge are ahead by 80 wins to Oxford’s 75.