The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race

Since 1829 the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge men’s crews have battled each other along the 4.2 mile (6.4km) Championship Course but only in 2015 were the women’s crews permitted to race the same stretch of river. Previously, since the start of the women’s race in 1927, they raced at Henley. The races take place at the end of March / beginning of April and are televised live. The race course is in the Tideway – the tidal stretch of the Thames, which has notoriously difficult bends. At spring tides the river rises and falls as much as 24 ft (7 metres), so if you’re coming to see the race be careful about picking a spot on the shoreline. Every year the Chiswick Lifeboat picks people up who find themselves stranded.

Where to watch

The race start at Putney gets very crowded. Waterside pubs like the Blue Anchor, the Dove and the Black Lion in Hammersmith are always heaving. The Bull’s Head in Barnes is a good spot, as is the Ship at Mortlake. In Chiswick you can pick a spot anywhere in Dukes Meadows and people bring picnics, but the only places open to the public for a pint are the Thames Tradesmen rowing club by Barnes Railway Bridge and The Pier House, Corney Reach Way, where Chiswick Pier Trust always puts on a party with a band and a bar, big TV screens to watch the start and finish of the race and a spectacular view of the river from the Surrey Bend to the Middlesex Bend. If you want to watch the finish, Chiswick Bridge is the place. The boat club right by the bridge where Tideway Skullers are based is usually not open to the public.

History in the making, 2015 – the first year the women’s races were held on the Tideway

Where to watch the Boat Races

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