The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race – One of London’s most long-established and best-loved sporting events!
Every year two teams of eight beefy men – and one very small person known as the cox – lock horns for the annual boat race between England’s two most prestigious universities. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race sees these highly competitive top university teams race each other from Putney to Mortlake along the River Thames.
The distance covered in this prominent race is a shade over four miles and never fails to make a marvellous spectacle in the early springtime. In fact this popular and formidable race attracts around a quarter of a million spectators to the banks of the Thames, whilst millions more watch it live on television.
The first Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race took place in 1829 but it was not until 1856 that it became an annual event and has now taken place 158 times! Cambridge has won to trophy 81 times, a tad more than their rivals who have had 76 victories. During their 158 contests there has only been one dead heat which occurred in 1877.
In fact so alike are the two teams that both Oxford and Cambridge race in blue with Cambridge boasting a slighter lighter blue kit.
Occasionally a rower would come along and his sporting physique and style would transcend the norm. Stanley Muttlebury, or “Muttle” as he was more commonly known, was one such athlete, who became a legendary figure for Cambridge after his sensational rowing exploits in the 1886-1890 rowing team.
1912 proved to be a particularly dramatic year for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race when both of the boats sunk and the race had to be re-run. Subsequently both teams have had their fair share of sinking embarrassment with the Cambridge boat also sinking in 1959 and 1978, and Oxford managing to sink in 1925 and 1951. Being in the age of television, the 1978 sinking of the Cambridge boat always finds its way into the top 100 most popular disastrous sporting events ever!
In an equally as dramatic year, 2011 saw a male spectator disrupt the race by swimming directly across the bows of the boats as they glided down the Thames head to head. Sir Mathew Pinsent, the race official and renowned Olympian, ordered the race to be restarted for safety issues. The protester was arrested and later jailed for six months for his foolish antics.