It doesn’t get much more traditional than the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, held every year along the Thames. This year, more than 250,000 people are expected to line the banks of the Thames Tideway to watch the fierce contest.
In order to allow the mere mortals here in Cayman to see the race in fine style, the Cayman Islands Rowing Association and the Cayman Islands Sailing Club will be hosting a screening of the race – the 163rd – at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club on Sunday. Everyone is welcome to join in and show their support for their chosen crew.
The live feed of the race coverage starts at 10:30 a.m. for the Women’s Boat Race, followed by the Men’s race at 11:30 a.m. There will be a barbecue and strawberries and cream on hand just in case all that excitement leaves you feeling a little bit peckish.
A rowing machine competition is also on the agenda and the opportunity to take a scull for a spin in North Sound.
The first race was in 1829 and the event has been held annually since 1856, except during the First and Second World Wars. The course covers a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) stretch of the Thames in West London, from Putney to Mortlake. Members of both teams are traditionally known as blues and each boat as a “Blue Boat,” with Cambridge in light blue and Oxford dark blue. As of 2016, Cambridge has won the race 82 times and Oxford 79 times, with one dead heat. Cambridge has led Oxford in cumulative wins since 1930.
The first Boat Race took place in 1829, but a little further down the river in Henley-on-Thames. What began as a challenge between two former school friends has now become an annual event, which is watched by thousands along the banks of the river – and is broadcast to millions more around the world. The second race took place in 1836, which is when it moved to London. The first Women’s Boat Race took place in 1927.
The Thames course has been used since 1845.
A coin toss determines which side, or station, each team will race on – either Middlesex (Fulham/Chiswick) or Surrey (Putney/Barnes). Each side has its own advantages and disadvantages due to the bends in the river.
The record time over the course in The Boat Race is 16 minutes 19 seconds, which was set by Cambridge in 1998.
Multi-Olympic Gold Medalist Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE, World Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist Cath Bishop and actor/comedian Hugh Laurie are just three of the Boat Races notable alumni.
Occasionally, boats can sink. There have been six sinkings in the history of the Boat Race. On March 31, 1912, both boats sank and the race was rescheduled for the following day.
The Boat Races are always umpired by an “old Blue,” with an ex-Oxford umpire alternating year on year with an ex-Cambridge umpire.
The race passes under Hammersmith and Barnes Bridges – but neither crew are permitted to row through the center arches.
The screening at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club is free and open to the public. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. For more information, email [email protected]