A Boat Race Day Album: Part I – Before

A spectator at Putney. The proudly faded Cambridge Blue scarf identifies him as an Old Blue, someone who has previously raced against Oxford and, win or lose, had made it to the end of the Fulham wall. The cap is that of the Cambridge Archetypals. The doubtful legend is that to join, you have to row in the Boat Race three times, get a third-class degree and have spent three nights in jail.

6 April 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch’s three-part photo album will cover Putney in the build up to the races, the Men’s Blue Boat Race in action from start to finish, and the aftermath at Mortlake. 

Putney Embankment, 8.37am. On the left, the Cambridge men come in from their last outing before their race in seven hours time.
The King’s College School, Wimbledon, boathouse was the Cambridge men’s base. All morning along the Embankment, sponsor’s signs and banners were being put in place. The man in black on the right is clearly a Cambridge supporter.
8.48am: Oxford leave the Westminster School boathouse for their last outing.
The inscrutable Sean Bowden, the Oxford men’s coach, keeps an eye on his boys.
9.00am: Osiris, the Oxford women’s reserves, return from the river to the simple art deco elegance of the Imperial College boathouse.
9.30am: The Cambridge men’s coach, Rob Baker, makes a final check of the boy’s boat. Either the Light Blues do not have a boatman or Baker is someone who believes that if you want something done properly, do it yourself.
Sisters, Louise Wynne-Griffith (left) and Catherine Gray (right) are not Cambridge Blues, but they do have some claim to wear the colours. Louise is wearing the Cambridge scarf that originally belonged to her and Louise’s grandfather, HRN Rickett. Louise’s cap belongs to her husband, Andrew Gray.

Louise and Catherine’s grandfather was Harold Rickett, a three-time Boat Race winner (1930, 1931, 1932), 1932 Olympic oarsman, coach and administrator. Louise’s son, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, is the 2022 Cambridge “7” man. Louise and Catherine’s father, David Christie, rowed for the Light Blues in 1958 and 1959 and was later rowing master at Shrewsbury School. Harold’s son, Peter Rickett, was a brother of Louise and Catherine’s mother, Elizabeth, and he rowed for Cambridge in 1958. Finally, Catherine’s husband, Andrew Gray, rowed for Goldie in 1978 and for the Blue Boat in 1979.

The Cambridge Women rowed out of Thames Rowing Club.
12.10pm: Jasper Parish, the Cambridge Women’s cox, seemingly in a confident mood.
Another potential boat race? Oxford’s 1994 Bosporos may have the edge on Cambridge’s sprightly 1928 Amaryllis – assuming that the older craft has her original engine.
Emma Boggis (left) and Siobhan Cassidy (right) rowed against each other in the 1995 Women’s Boat Race, Emma for Oxford, Siobhan for Cambridge. Nowadays, both do important things for the Boat Race, for their university clubs, and for rowing and other sport generally.
2.00pm: Oxford’s blades are drawn.
2.02pm: Goldie, Cambridge’s men’s reserves, head out for their race.
2.08pm: Isis, Oxford’s men’s reserves, go afloat.
2.44pm: Putney seen from the press launch.
London Rowing Club.
2.35pm: The Cambridge Men prepare to race.
2.42pm: The Oxford Men head out.
3.15pm: The Cambridge Men viewed through Putney Bridge.
3.18pm: Coach Sean Bowden knows that his work is done and that his boys are now on their own.
3.19pm: On the stake boats with four minutes to go. 
The spectators on Putney Bridge wait for the off – which will happen tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Part II will cover the men’s race from start to finish. The BBC broadcast of the day is on YouTube.

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