Eights Online

The Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race Trial Eights were not live streamed in 1906 and popular magazines of the day took a week to produce picture reports.

8 December 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch on one of the hardest Oxbridge tests.

The Trial Eights are not contests of Oxford v Cambridge, they are men’s and women’s intra-university races with the probable last eighteen for each Blue Boat all hoping to impress the coaches with their performances competing over the Putney to Mortlake course.

The official Boat Race website reports on the upcoming Trials:

Trial Eights – Everything You Need to Know

Trial VIIIs are set for Sunday, 11 December (Oxford) and Monday, 12 December (Cambridge)

They were first staged in 1859. These annual intra-club events are now a core part of The Boat Race season.

How Can I Watch Them?

You can watch all the action live on our YouTube Channel. Oxford is here and Cambridge is here. The Live Streaming programme will be from 12:55 – 15:10 on the 11th and 12th December.

It’s just seat racing isn’t it?…

Not quite! Trial VIIIs are designed to test athletes and coxes.

The races will take place over the Championship Course, Putney to Mortlake. They are held on the same tide as The Boat Race in March. These squad races are the only opportunity that Boat Race athletes have to race the full course under the watchful gaze of the official race umpires.

In the weeks leading up to the race the coaches will have split the squads in two, with the aim of building evenly matched crews. 

The 1912 Oxford Trials at Moulsford (near Wallingford). In 2022, the Oxford Trials will be on Sunday, 11 December, starting at 13.25 for the women and 14.40 for the men.

Why should I watch?

Trial VIIIs offer the coaches an opportunity to see how athletes perform side-by-side. If the crews are truly well matched, they will be travelling at similar speeds. These conditions create close, gripping races. Coxes will be under pressure to give their crew the winning edge.

Ultimately, Trial VIIIs offer athletes a chance to demonstrate how well they can perform under pressure. This weekend’s results will go a long way towards deciding the crews that will represent Oxford and Cambridge in the Blue Boats and Reserve Races on 26 March 2023.

Anything else I should know?

Another feature of Trial VIIIs is the names given to the crews. Athletes select names for the crews, often drawing on key moments in history, or team dynamics.

Recent names have included Hurley v. Burly (Oxford Men 2019), Mr Sleepy v Burpees (Cambridge Men 2021), and Speed v Style (Oxford Women, 2022 Campaign)

The 1907 Cambridge Trials at Ely. In 2022, the Cambridge Trials will be on Monday, 12 December, starting at 13.25 for the women and 14.40 for the men.

How do I find out who is racing?

Crew lists and names will be issued on Thursday 9 December and are subject to change.

Subscribe to the Boat Race 
newsletter and YouTube channel for all the latest updates.


  1. I wonder when the MSM/Popular Press turned from reporting the progress of the Varsity crews as if they were manned by Demi-Gods to today’s studied indifference of the Boat Race?

  2. The Oxford athletes’ choice of their best coxswain in the lead up to the trial eights 2022 has unexplainably been left on the bank and will not be racing Trial Eights today. Is Sean Bowden camouflaging his intentions from Cambridge and the Cambridge President or is there another explanation?

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