A Boat Race Day Album: Part II – During

Two flags that hopefully will continue to fly for a long time.

7 April 2022

By Tim Koch

The first of Tim Koch’s three-part photo album of Boat Race Day 2022 yesterday covered Putney in the build-up to the races. Today, it focuses on the Men’s Blue Boat Race in action from start to finish, and tomorrow it will show the afterparty at Mortlake. 

A shot from the church tower of St Mary’s, Putney. Although I was delighted and flattered to be given a seat in the press launch following the men’s race (the orange rib on the left), it did mean that that I could not cover any of the other three contests – though I did manage to get a few shots of the women’s race as it passed the Fulham Wall. Picture: @StMarysPutney.
A shot taken 8 seconds after the start (henceforth styled “+ 8 sec”). Unfortunately, for the next vital minute, the press boat only had view of one or the other of the crews at any one time, their line of sight blocked by the umpire (unavoidable) or the Oxford launch (avoidable).
+ 13 secs: Cambridge won the toss and took the unconventional decision to pick the Middlesex station. This gave the underdogs a two-thirds length advantage in the first mile. Presumably, the thinking was that going up and trying to stay up was preferable to coming from behind.
+ 44 secs: If Cambridge’s plan was to gain an early advantage, it did not work. From the start, Oxford powered away and never yielded their advantage.
+ 1 min 25 secs: Oxford were already half-a-length ahead as they passed the new-look Craven Cottage football ground.
+ 2 mins 28 secs: From early on, Oxford clearly had found a rhythm while Cambridge, conscious that they had to make a comeback, never settled as well as their opponents.
+ 3 mins 36 secs: Passing the Mile Post buoy. Oxford’s time to the Mile Post was 3 mins 38 secs, Cambridge’s was 3 mins 39 secs.
+ 4 mins 42 secs. In Fulham Reach. Of course, the crews were photographed astern and from the side so it needs to be remembered that “parallax error” (the change in the apparent position of an object when viewed from different points) in this case makes the Oxford boat look further ahead than it actually was.
+ 5 mins 22 secs: Cambridge down too much too soon.
+ 5 mins 34 secs: Oxford look confident as they pass Fulham Reach Boat Club.
+ 6 mins 34 secs: Oxford’s time to Hammersmith Bridge was 6 mins 34 secs, Cambridge recorded 6 mins 35 secs.
The following flotilla passes Auriol Kensington Rowing Club. In the Cambridge blue jacket, coach Rob Baker understandably looks pensive.
+ 7 mins 04 secs: Passing the Dove pub and Hammersmith Pier.
+ 7 mins 59 secs: Alongside Furnivall Gardens, one of the “fan zones”.
+ 8 mins 58 secs: Oxford at the Chiswick Eyot with Chiswick Church in the background.
+ 11 mins 38 secs: For most of Boat Race history, this Cambridge crew would have been the favourites to win.
+ 11 mins 48 secs: At the Chiswick Crossing with Barnes Bridge in the background, it looks hopeless for Cambridge.
+ 13 mins 27 secs: Cambridge passes the steps shared by the Civil Service Boat House (home to Barnes Bridge Ladies and Cygnet Rowing Clubs) and the Emanuel School Boathouse. 
+ 13 mins 41 secs: Oxford’s Barnes Bridge time was 13 min 51 secs, while Cambridge reached it in 13 mins 59 secs.
+ 14 mins 50 secs: Less than two minutes to go, Oxford are hurting but not as much as Cambridge.
+ 15 mins 41 secs: Until recently, crews could sometimes literally smell the finish if the now dormant Mortlake Brewery was doing its magic with hops, barley water and yeast. However, at this point, Oxford can probably still smell (and taste) victory.
+ 15 mins 36 secs: Cambridge are valiant to the finish.
+ 15 mins 41 secs: One minute left and the coxes can see the finish post.
+ 16 mins 23 secs: The finish flag is raised, ready to be dropped.
Oxford wins the 167th Boat Race, their first victory since 2017, in 16 mins 42 secs. Cambridge were 6 seconds behind.
Graphic: BRCL

Some hasty shots of the women’s race shortly off the start:

30 seconds in and Cambridge go ahead.
Oxford on the back foot.
A side shot with no parallax error shows Cambridge two seats up.
Staying sharp.
Mile Post:Cambridge: 3.59Oxford 4:03
Hammersmith Bridge:Cambridge 7:07Oxford 7:10
Chiswick Steps: Cambridge 11:15Oxford 11:21
Barnes Bridge: Cambridge 15:13Oxford 15:20
Finish:Cambridge 18:25 Oxford 18:32
Cambridge won in a time of 18 mins 25 secs while Oxford were 7 seconds behind. Picture: @theBoatRace/Ben Tufnell.

Oxford have now won 81 Boat Races, narrowing the gap with Cambridge’s 85 (there was a genuine draw in 1877 despite what most sources may say). The score in the women’s race is Cambridge 46, Oxford 30.

Tomorrow, Part III will cover the post-race events at Mortlake. The BBC broadcast of the day is on YouTube.

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