Build up to the Annual Boat Race

As the weather warms up, this years boat race is sure to be a scorcher!

The annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, collectively known as Oxbridge, is a staple of their longstanding rivalry. Their feud is rich in history, dating back nearly 800 years when Cambridge was first founded by dissident scholars from Oxford. Since then, the two Universities have bloomed into two of the most renowned universities in the world.

The race floats on the River Thames in West London and is held on a 4m stretch of water between Putney and Mortlake. However, the first race originally took place in 1829 at Henley on Thames because of a simple challenge between two friends; Charles Wordsworth of Oxford and Charles Merrivale from Cambridge. Since that first contest (which Oxford won) the race has been held in London, from 1836 onwards. 


Cambridge will be looking for a second successive victory in 2017 (image source: The Mirror)

A host of rowers have participated including actor and comedian Hugh Laurie, Multi-Olympic Gold Medalist Matthew Pinsent and TV Historian & Author Dan Snow to name a few. Cambridge have taken the most victories ( 82 to Oxfords 79) with a single victory being declared a dead heat in 1877. 1927 marked the first women’s race, although held intermittently till the mid 60’s but up to the present day, Cambridge are ahead in overall victories claiming 41 to Oxfords 30.

Despite Oxbridge sharing an almost identical likeness (they regularly swap Global University rankings as well as have similar facilities and teaching methods) their respective cities could not be any more different.


The Oxford Women’s Team won last year after the Cambridge Team took on water (image source: The Independent)

Oxford has a larger population and has traditionally been more of an industrial sector and nowadays is focused on the motor industry as several modern Formula One teams, such as Williams and Renault are based there not to mention a BMW manufacturing plant. Cambridge has its roots in agriculture but is now more akin to a mini Silicon Valley with many distinguished technology companies, such as Microsoft, Apple and Amazon having a foothold in the area.

So, will Oxford be able to close the gap? Or will Cambridge pull away and add a second successive victory? Be sure to tune into the race on BBC Sport on 2 April to find out!


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