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Blue or light blue?

“The Boat Race” – rather presumptuous to call it that, as if it were the only boat race in the world, isn’t it? Well, for some, it really was the only rowing race that counts …. First held in 1829, The Boat Race is an annual event, contested between crews from Oxford (the Dark Blues) and Cambridge (the Light Blues) Universities and remains a point of honour for both schools. It is a side-by-side 4.2-mile race, usually held on the Thames River tideway in south-west London.

Last year, the Boat Race, like so many other events, was cancelled due to COVID-19. This year, like so many events, they have figured out how to run it – even though it will be held at a different location with no spectators, it will take place and the world will be able to watch online. Crews have been finalized; the venue confirmed – ready to go on April 4.

This will be the 166th men’s race and the 75th women’s race, Cambridge leads this longstanding rivalry 84–80 in the men’s and 44–30 in the women's race. This year, the venue has been moved to a closed course on a section of the River Cam in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in order to avoid the large crowds that the event usually draws. Also, the Hammersmith Bridge at the approximate mid-point of the Thames course, has been closed to traffic both on and under the bridge because of structural concerns, necessitating the relocation of the Boat Race. The flat, featureless landscape at Ely will allow a straight race over 5000m, free of the variable conditions caused by tides and the sweeping bends that mark the traditional course. This will be only the second time the race has been held in Ely, the first time being a series of unofficial races which took place there during the Second World War. Since this is Cambridge’s home water, both squads are being allowed to train out of the Cambridge University boathouse, situated a short way upstream from the course itself so that Oxford will not be disadvantaged.

The Oxford crew will be coached by Sean Bowden, a former Great Britain Olympic coach who has been responsible for the senior men’s crew since 1997, assisted by Brendan Gliddon. The Oxford Women’s chief coach is Andy Nelder, assisted by James Powell. Four rowers from last year’s crew, as well as the cox, are returning. Kaitlyn Dennis, the Canadian rower who was selected for two-seat last year, has not made this year’s Blue Boat but remains a strong call-up option. The Cambridge men’s crew coaching team is led by Rob Baker, who was the Cambridge Women’s coach in 2017 and 2018, while the Women’s chief coach is Robert Weber, from New York, who joined Cambridge University for the 2019 race. Coach Weber has selected an eight largely made up of those who would have raced last year had the race not been cancelled. In fact, the Light Blue women are almost unchanged from the 2020 line-up. The Oxford men have four returning Blues to Cambridge’s two. More details on the crews can be found here:

So, are you ready to watch? The race will be broadcast live on BBC on Sunday, April 4, with the Women’s race starting at 15:50 GMT/UTC (11:50am EDT), and the men’s race at 16:50 GMT/UTD (12:50 EDT). For those of us outside of BBC range, it will also be available on Youtube.

More information can be found at Are you a Blue or a Light Blue supporter?

Sources: › wiki › The_Boat_Race_2021

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