Following the progress of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race on 26th March has never been easier for the (alleged) 120 million people who watch the archaic private challenge between two amateur clubs which, in theory, has no place in the modern sporting world. The latest technology has always been used to get the result out as quickly as possible. In late Victorian times it was boasted that the result had reached many corners of the Empire within half an hour thanks to the new telegraph cable. Pathes ambitious multi camera coverage of the 1910 Boat Race (which even includes slow motion shots) shows how the new medium of film was soon used to show the event around the country within days (unfortunately these reels are out of order)!
‘Live’ coverage (arguably) started in the early 1920s when Whiteley’s Department Store in Bayswater, West London, would slowly raise a dark blue and a light blue flag on separate poles to show the respective positions of the two boats through the race. The BBC did the first live radio coverage of the event in 1927 (commentary by G.O. ‘Gully’ Nickalls and the first live television broadcast was in 1938. The BBC’s John Snagge commentated on the Boat Race from 1931 until 1980. He was most famous for saying in the foggy 1949 race, “I can’t see who’s in the lead but it’s either Oxford or Cambridge”. He presented the race with an 1829 (the year of the first race) gold coin that is used in the toss to decide stations.
UK – BBC1 and BBC1 High Definition will broadcast 15:45 – 17:30 GMT.
USA – BBC America 12.30 EST.
Europe – Eurosport.
Africa – Supersport.
Italy – RAI.
Spain – TVE.
Asia – Eurosport Asia.
Worldwide – BBC World News 16:30 – 17:30 GMT.
There is, of course, no substitute for watching from the banks of the Thames. One of the best spots is on Furnivall Gardens which is on the Hammersmith bend and has a giant TV screen and food stalls. It is also next to the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club Pimms Bar at 14 Lower Mall, selling the quintessential English drink, Pimm’s at the quintessential English event (Göran – does HTBS accept advertising)? [We just did!]
Returning to the present, this is ‘Tideway Week’ for the Boat Race Crews. They are rowing from Putney (where the race starts) once or twice a day. My pictures show Oxford and Isis in practice on Tuesday 22nd March. The former have a tandem rig (bow four are on the opposite sides to normal). The Isis pictures are rather flattering; most of the shots I took showed poor timing. Any one who is in or near London may wish to watch the outings. Times are:
Thursday 24th – Cambridge 9:30 and 2:30, Oxford 10:00 and 3:00.
Friday 25th – Cambridge 9:30 and 3:30, Oxford 10.00 and 3:15.