Image Description: two dark blue cartoon oars on a light blue background.
The crews for the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge have been announced. This year’s race will be the first since 1944 not to take place on the Championship course, due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns over Hammersmith Bridge.
The race is usually held on a stretch of the River Thames through central London. However, this year the race will take place on the River Ouse in Ely. Both the men’s and the women’s races will move to the new site, where a £5 million boathouse was opened at the site in 2016 after over a decade of fundraising.
The race will take place on the 4th April (Easter Sunday) and will be broadcast live on BBC One. However, no spectators will be allowed to attend the event. The change in the location is due to “the challenge of planning a high profile amateur event in London with continuing COVID related restrictions as well as uncertainty regarding the safety and navigation of Hammersmith bridge”.
There was much made in the press conference for the announcement about the unique challenges caused by the COVID pandemic and the switch in course from London to Ely. As the CUBC men’s president Callum Sullivan describes, “for the majority of the team, lockdowns have meant carrying out the (training) programme alone, often in their bedrooms”.
There are some concerns that this change in location will affect the quality of the event. Whereas the Tideway has significant bends, the Great Ouse is straight. Moreover, the length of the race is a much shorter 4.9 km as opposed to the traditional 6.8 km. OUBC captain Alexander Bebb admits that he “doesn’t think that anyone will prefer to race at Ely over the Tideway”.
Despite this, it was clear that all the boats were glad to take part in a race that was cancelled last year. For example, OUWBC president Kaitlyn Dennis acknowledged that her boat “were very thankful for the opportunity to have a closed and safe race in Ely”.
Another positive of this year’s race is that this will be the first boat race to be officiated by two female umpires. Sarah Winckless MBE, who was an Olympic bronze medalist in 2004, will umpire the men’s race and Judith Packer will umpire the Women’s race. The umpire has the role of monitoring any fouls by either boat and declaring a no-race for equipment failure.
The Oxford boats will hope to overturn the recent losses in the years before 2020, even with Cambridge having home advantage in location. Both the dark blue crews lost in 2019 and 2018, however there is confidence within the camp that 2021 will be their year. The last time the crews met at Ely in 1944, the Oxford men’s crew overcame the home advantage to take the win.
The 75th Boat Race Women’s Crews:
|Cox||Dylan Whittaker||King’s||Cox||Costi Levy||Exeter|
|8||Sarah Tisdall||Lucy Cavendish||8||Katherine Maitland||St Hughs|
|7||Bronya Sykes||Gonville & Caius||7||Katie Anderson||Brasenose|
|6||Sophie Paine (President)||Girton||6||Georgina Grant||Harris Manchester|
|5||Anouschka Fenley||Lucy Cavendish||5||Julia Lindsay||St Cross|
|4||Caoimhe Dempsey||Newnham||4||Amelia Standing||St Anne’s|
|3||Abba Parker||Emmanuel||3||Martha Birtles||Mansfield|
|2||Sarah Portsmouth||Newnham||2||Anja Zehfuss||Green Templeton|
|Bow||Adriana Perez Rotondo||Newnham||Bow||Megan Stoker||St Peter’s|
The 166th Boat Race Men’s Crews:
|Cox||Charlie Marcus||Trinity||Cox||Jesse Oberst||Pembroke|
|Stroke||Drew Taylor||Clare||Stroke||Augustin Wambersie||St Catherine’s|
|7||Callum Sullivan (President)||Peterhouse||7||Joshua Bowesman-Jones||Keble|
|6||Ollie Parish||Peterhouse||6||Jean-Philippe Dufour||Lincoln|
|5||Garth Holden||St Edmund’s||5||Tobias Schröder||Magdalen|
|4||Quinten Richardson||Fitzwilliam||4||Felix Drinkall||Lady Margaret Hall|
|3||Seb Benzecry||Jesus||3||Martin Barakso||Kellogg|
|2||Ben Dyer||Gonville & Caius||2||Alex Bebb (President)||St Peter’s|
|Bow||Theo Weinberger||St John’s||Bow||James Forward||Pembroke|