On the morning of the Boat Race, I had a quick word with Chas outside Chas Newens Marine. The building in which it based has historic rowing and boatbuilding connections; at various times it has housed Searle’s, Simmons, Aylings, and Boyers & Phelps.
Chas: I started working down here at Putney when I was 14, and I’m 77 now so I’ve seen a lot of Boat Races! In the early years, I took the press launch out, but later I drove the umpire when it was decided that he should be in a neutral boat. Before that, a Cambridge Umpire would use the launch carrying the Oxford Old Blues, and vice versa. As you can imagine, a lot of barracking went on, but when he was on his own, he just had his own thoughts…. My Dad was the Imperial College boatman for forty-two years… though his father was a yeast merchant – which is why I like beer. This year, I think that Cambridge is a very good crew… you notice certain things, especially when they have their starts…. I think the Cambridge ladies are good as well… For years and years, people said ‘no, no, we can’t have women’. I said, ‘Why? They row the Head of the River the other way, so why can’t they row the Boat Race this way….?’ I think it’s fantastic, I really do.
Putney: The excitement mounts
Mortlake: The end of the line
Due to transport problems, I missed both of the women’s races, just managing to catch the Blue Boats coming ashore after their race. I saw the end of the men’s races from Chiswick Bridge and also caught the post-race celebrations and commiserations at the landing area on the beach outside Quintin Boat Club and Mortlake, Anglian and Alpha Rowing Club, just upstream of Chiswick Bridge.