River rivals! All you need to know about the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race

The Men’s Boat Race that takes place between Oxford and Cambridge universities on the River Thames every April is one of the oldest sporting contests in the world and has seen everyone from GB Olympic hero Matthew Pinsent to superstar actor Hugh Laurie fighting it out to the finish line. With 2017’s contest about to set sail, we’ve picked out some of the race’s most dramatic dates:


This was the date of the very first Men’s Boat Race, which actually took place in June in Henley-on-Thames. Oxford won this first encounter easily enough but Cambridge have their oars in front overall, having won 82 times to Oxford’s 79 – there was one dead heat in 1877. The women’s races didn’t get going until 1927.


If you watch how low the boats sit in the choppy Thames, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that there have been a grand total of six sinkings in the history of the race. But the 1912 event was doubly disastrous, with both boats sinking into the murky waters. Unsurprisingly, the race had to be rescheduled for the following day.

Photo via Flickr


This was the year when the fastest ever time was set, with the Cambridge team clocking an oarsome time of  16mins 9secs over the course. And the slowest ever winning time over the Championship Course? That was way back in 1860, when Cambridge sauntered over the finish line first in a time of 26mins 5secs.


You might know the Winklevoss twins as the Harvard pair who sued Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that he stole their ConnectU idea to create Facebook – they were eventually awarded $65 million in damages. But less well known is the fact that the brothers also rowed in the Oxford crew in 2010. They lost, but this time they didn’t sue.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


This was the year that Australian national Trenton Oldfield shot to global fame for swimming between the two boats and halting the race in protest at elitism in British society. Oldfield was promptly plucked from the water on to the umpire’s boat, handcuffed and arrested. One of the most bizarre races in history ended with Oldfield sentenced to six months in jail and Cambridge cruising to victory.


The 163rd Boat Race will take place on 2nd April and some 250,000 people are expected to crowd the banks of the river to catch a glimpse of the action as the two crews lock oars once again between Putney and Mortlake. If you fancy joining the party, you can find all the information you’ll need right here.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Lead photo via Wikimedia Commons

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