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The Boat Race 2021

The Boat Race 2021
Date4 April 2021 (scheduled)

The Boat Race 2021 is a side-by-side rowing race scheduled to take place on 4 April 2021. Held annually, The Boat Race is contested between crews from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge usually along a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) tidal stretch of the River Thames in south-west London. This will be the 75th women's race and the 166th men's race, with the 2020 race having been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Cambridge led the longstanding rivalry 84–80 and 44–30 in the men's and women's races, respectively. This year's race is scheduled to take place on the River Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire, rather than the traditional Championship Course in London.

Background

The Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing competition between the University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the "Dark Blues")[1] and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the "Light Blues").[1] First held in 1829, the race has usually taken place on the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course, between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in south-west London.[2] The 2020 event was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.[3][4] For 2021, the race is scheduled to be held behind closed doors along a section of the River Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire.[5][6] The organisers noted that the move to Ely was not only due to Covid, but also safety concerns relating to Hammersmith Bridge.[7] It will be the second time in the event's 191-year history that the race has taken place in Ely:[8] the previous occasion was an unofficial wartime staging of the event, which Oxford's men won by three-quarters of a length.[9] The 2021 course will start at the stone marking the end of the 1944 race, and proceed along a 4,890-metre (5,350 yd) long course, from the Adelaide Bridge towards Littleport.[10]

The rivalry is a major point of honour between the two universities; the race is followed throughout the United Kingdom and broadcast worldwide.[11][12] Cambridge's men will go into the race as champions, having won the 2019 race by a margin of five lengths,[13] and lead overall with 84 victories to Oxford's 80 (excluding the 1877 race, a dead heat).[14][15] Cambridge's women were also victorious in 2019, winning by five lengths,[16][17] which took the overall record in the Women's Boat Race to 44–30 in their favour.[13][16]

In May 2020, the University of Cambridge's three boat clubs, CUBC, CUWBC and Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club, agreed to merge into a single club under the CUBC name, with Callum Sullivan as the Men's President and Sophie Payne the Women's President.[18] Alex Bebb is the OUBC president and Kaitlyn Dennis his OUWBC counterpart.[19] The 75th women's race will be umpired by international rowing judge Judith Packer, while the 166th men's race will been officiated by Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Winckless.[20] Both had been selected for the aborted 2020 event, and it will be the first time in the history of the event that women will oversee both main races.[20]

Coaches

Sean Bowden is the chief coach for Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC), having been responsible for the senior men's crew since 1997, winning 12 from the last 18 races. He is a former Great Britain Olympic coach and coached the Light Blues in the 1993 and 1994 Boat Races. His assistant coach is Brendan Gliddon, a South African who formerly coached under-23 and FISU teams for both South Africa and Great Britain. Alex Bowmer is OUBC's physical therapist.[21] The Oxford University Women's Boat Club (OUWBC) chief coach is Andy Nelder, who previously worked with Bowden and OUBC for eleven years. He is assisted by James Powell.[22]

The Cambridge men's crew coaching team was led by their chief coach, Rob Baker, who had previously coached Cambridge's women to victories in both the 2017 and 2018 races, and Cambridge's men to a win in 2019. Cambridge women's chief coach is Robert Weber, who joined Cambridge University before the 2019 race from Hamilton College in New York, where he was Head Rowing Coach and Associate Professor of Physical Education. CUBC's assistant coaches are Paddy Ryan, Katy Knowles, Nick Acock and Jordan Stanley.[23]

Trials

In order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the trials took place on the Great Ouse behind closed doors and featured no pre-race social media or marketing. Cambridge trials took place on 17 December with Oxford's races being staged two days later.[24] Because of restrictions imposed by the university, Oxford had been prevented from practicing on water until 11 December.[25] As a result of changes to the UK's COVID-19 tier system, neither Winckless nor Packer were able to travel to Ely and both of Oxford's trial races were umpired by Kath Finucane, the reserve race official.[25]

Women

The CUBC women's trial featured the boats Hakuna and Matata, named after the Swahili phrase which approximates to "no worries" used in The Lion King film. In fine conditions and umpired by Packer, Matata made the better start to lead by half a length at 500m. At the inlet from the River Lark, Hakuna's cox moved his boat into the middle of the river to take advantage of the faster flowing stream. They took the lead around the 3,000m mark and pulled away to win in a time of 16 minutes 5 seconds, two lengths ahead of Hakuna.[24][26]

OUWBC's trial boats were named after two of the pharmaceutical companies developing COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer and AstraZeneca.[25][27] Pfizer took an early lead and held an advantage of three-quarters of a length. Steering too closely to their opponents, Pfizer clashed oars with AstraZeneca and were warned by Finucane. Five minutes into the race, Pfizer held a two-length lead and moved to the centre of the river. They extended their lead to three lengths before AstraZeneca reduced the deficit by half a length. As the crews passed the finishing line, Pfizer won with a three-length lead over AstraZeneca.[24]

Men

CUBC's trial featured boats name Henry I and 10,000 Eels to reflect Henry I's annual order of lampreys from Ely. Officiated by Winckless, both crews started strongly with Henry I holding a half-length lead after 500m. They extended their lead by a quarter of length by 750m and their cox attempted to move across to the centre of the river, receiving multiple warnings from Winckless. 10,000 Eels held their line and pulled back to within half a length by 1,250m and while both crews pushed for the final 500m, Henry I crossed the finishing line in 14 minutes 4 seconds, one third of a length ahead.[26]

The OUBC trial boats were named Track and Trace, after the NHS Test and Trace system designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Trace took an early lead in a race which was initially dominated by oar clashes. Track began to reduce the deficit as the crews passed the Lark, and following another clash, took the lead and held clear water advantage with 1,000m to go. Track went on to beat Trace by two lengths.[25]

References

  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  3. ^ "The Boat Race has been cancelled due to Coronavirus". ITV. 16 March 2020. Archived from the original on 17 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  4. ^ Gold, Harry (16 March 2020). "Coronavirus updates as Boat Race 2020 between Cambridge and Oxford is cancelled". Cambridge News. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  5. ^ "The 2021 Boat Race to take place on 4 April 2021". The Boat Race Company Limited. 3 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  6. ^ "The Boat Race 2021 to be raced at Ely, Cambridgeshire". The Boat Race Company Limited. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Boat Race: 2021 races to be moved from the Thames to Ely over safety concerns". BBC Sport. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  8. ^ The Boat Race, p. 4
  9. ^ "The Boat Race – Oxford's victory". The Times. 28 February 1944. p. 2. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Oxford and Cambridge Trial Eights Races". The Boat Race Company Limited. 29 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Former Winnipegger in winning Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race crew". CBC News. 6 April 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  12. ^ "TV and radio". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Boat Race – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  14. ^ Higginson, Marc (6 April 2014). "Boat Race 2014: Oxford emphatically beat Cambridge". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Classic moments – the 1877 dead heat". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  16. ^ a b Hess, Alex (7 April 2019). "Boat Race 2019: Cambridge cruise to double victory – as it happened". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Boat Race 2019: Cambridge beat Oxford in both men's and women's races". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  18. ^ The Boat Race, pp. 52–54
  19. ^ The Boat Race, pp. 8–9
  20. ^ a b The Boat Race, p. 45
  21. ^ "Staff – OUBC". Oxford University Boat Club. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Coaching Team". Oxford University Women's Boat Club. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Coaches And Support". Cambridge University Boat Club. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  24. ^ a b c The Boat Race, pp. 54–56
  25. ^ a b c d "Oxford Trial Eights Races – Race Report". The Boat Race Company Limited. 29 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  26. ^ a b "Cambridge Trial Eights Races – Race Report". The Boat Race Company Limited. 29 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  27. ^ Gallagher, James; Triggle, Nick (30 December 2020). "Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK". BBC News. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  • "The Boat Race". Row 360. The Boat Race Company Limited. December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020. Cite magazine requires |magazine=

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