11 May 2021
By William O’Chee
No, the Boat Races between Oxford and Cambridge are not yet over, William O’Chee writes. The Lightweights still remain.
After delays caused by Britain’s most recent lockdown, the Oxford and Cambridge will take to the water at Ely for two Lightweight Boat Races this month.
The Women’s Lightweight Boat Race will take place on 18 May at 2pm, and the Men’s Lightweight Boat Race will be on 23 May, also at 2pm.
At the same time as announcing the race dates, the Chairman of the Lightweight Boat Races Committee, Ben Crystal also announced that the race sponsors, interactive investor, have extended their support for the race for another three years.
“We are delighted that ii are extending their strong support for the lightweight boat races for another three years. The athletes have trained in very difficult circumstances this year and we look forward to some competitive racing at Ely,” Crystal said.
Oxford and Cambridge Lightweights have been racing since 1975, with the races originally taking place over 2,000m at Henley, until they move to the Tideway in 2018. Last year, the men’s and women’s lightweights were the only Blue Boats from the two universities to race, as the heavyweight races were cancelled a week later.
After Cambridge made a clean sweep of the heavyweight races at Ely last month, there was some criticism of the event not being on neutral water.
However, Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club President, Katherine Ferris, said the two Oxford clubs had no fear of racing at Ely.
“In a year when so many events have had to be cancelled, we are delighted and very grateful to be able to race at all. Racing at Ely will be a fantastic opportunity to row somewhere new, and we are very much looking forward to challenging Cambridge on their home water,” she said.
“While it is of course disappointing not to be returning to the traditional Championship course on the Tideway, the different location is perhaps a very fitting way to end a highly unusual season!”
Both universities have been forced off the water for much of the last six months, and only recently returned to their boats. However, expectations are high that the races will display their usual excellent standard of lightweight racing.
Due to COVID-19, both races will take place behind “closed doors,” as were the heavyweight race in April. Details of how to watch the races remotely will be released soon.