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Waves lap against the bank,
there’s a stillness in the air;
Camera crews unravel leads,
for filming they prepare
 
People gather in the club, 
a bounteous buffet’s spread
radish, salmon, small beef balls…
most leave overfed.
 
To look along the river bank
is now to see full length,
spectators ready with their cheers
to give the lads more strength.
 
Someone’s made a funny hat,
a boat upon the top 
and photos of the uni teams
in flowers that he’s cropped.
 
The boys file out now one by one 
with introduction brief;
The crowd go ‘woooo’ and then we watch.
Which team will know that grief?
 
They’re away from Putney bridge 
each stroke exactly matched;
Neck and neck they speed on down,
this easter race has hatched!
 
Trailed by a score of boats,
the key one just behind,
check the oars don’t get too close
with cheating p’rhaps in mind!
 
Watching from the boathouse,
some with bated breath:
‘Go on there cambridge, catch them up
see Oxford to their death.’
 
One enthusiast I quote:
‘its all about the win’
and yet I think the taking part
means more than just the fin.
 
But oh what jubilation, 
just from seeing theirs;
The cambridge crew have won it,
they’re rejoicing in their pairs!
 
About the place, a charming buzz
As tearful hugs are made:
Proud parents, friends and students feel
the force of such a day!
 
All wash out just like the tide
which having come right in
and soaked somebody’s picnic
runs out with the gin!
 
Now the banks are clearing, 
a pair of parakeets display
their love for one another
on this historic day!
 
by Emily Nash

Why is it such a big event?

The first race took place on 10th June 1829 in Henley on Thames following a challenge between old school friends.

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