10 April 2021
By Göran R Buckhorn
This year’s Boat Races between Oxbridge’s men and women (no races between the second, reserve, crews Isis v Goldie and Osiris v Blondie) were something we had not seen before.
After last year’s cancellation of the races on the Thames on the Championship Course due to the pandemic, this year’s ban on boating under Hammersmith Bridge and the problem of having the spectator crowds to keep their distance from each other, the 2021 races, on 4 April, were moved to the River Great Ouse, close to Ely. The Great Ouse, where the unofficial 1944 Boat Race was held, offers a 4.89 km straight course for two boats abreast.
For the first time, the men’s race was umpired by a woman, Sarah Winckless, while the women’s race was umpired by Judith Packer. Both umpires had to work hard with the voices and flags to keep the crews apart. With a straight course, one would think it would not be that difficult for the coxes to keep the crews in lane, but alas it was…
Both races were won by the Light Blues: Cambridge’s men crossed the finish line at 14 minutes 12 seconds, and the winning time for Cambridge’s women was 16 minutes 27 seconds.
After the 166th men’s Boat Race, Cambridge has a total of 85 victories and Oxford 80 (one dead heat, in 1877). After the 75th women’s race, Cambridge has 45 victories and Oxford 30.
If you missed any of HTBS’s articles about the 2021 races, you will find them all here.
Now that it’s been shown (as if anyone should have doubted it) that the
Oxford-Cambridge races can be held somewhere other than London, and since
we know that Hammersmith Bridge is unlikely to be open for navigation for
some time, why not move the race round the country, as the Olympics move
round the world?
I’m sure that quite a number of other rivers in the UK could provide a
four-and-a-bit mile course, with bends, and some of them would be wider
than the Great Ouse at Ely. One or more local clubs could provide the
facilities for boat storage and so on during the final training period,
and the exposure (and perhaps some money from the sponsors) would be
greatly to their benefit. And the course wouldn’t be anyone’s “home