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GO OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE

Boat Race in Oxford

If you’re staying in or visiting Oxford when the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is broadcast on the BBC, don’t expect to see a soul on the streets.

There’s a real sense of pride amongst the Oxford community as every year teams from the two imposing, historical universities go
head-to-head to claim the River Thames bragging rights.

The rivalry, however, was born out of a friendship. The race was the brainchild of two friends, Charles Merivale and Charles Wordsworth, students at Cambridge and Oxford respectively.

It was in 1829 that the gauntlet was thrown down, with Cambridge challenging their counterparts. And since then the event has grown from strength to strength, continually capturing the imagination of the British public.

The race held in 2004 was the 150th and attracted a staggering UK television audience of 8.9 million people with an estimated worldwide audience of 500 million.

The race takes place on the tidal stretch of the Thames called the Tideway, which runs from Teddington Lock through central London and then out to the open sea. The Championship Course runs between Putney and Mortlake.

Cambridge sank in 1859, then again just a mile from the finish in 1978, while Oxford went under in both 1925 and 1951.

Cambridge haven’t won as many times as Oxford and the closest race to date happened in 2003, when Oxford won by just 12 inches.

Over the years, aside from those that would become Olympians, there have been a few celebrity faces, including photographer Lord Snowdon, who rowed for Cambridge in 1950, Lord Colin Moynihan, doing his bit for Oxford in 1977, and the comedian Hugh Laurie, who stepped out of the footlights briefly to row for Cambridge in 1980.

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