University Boat Race. ‘The University Boat Race dead-heat: The Finish.’ Original large double-page spread from the Illustrated London News dated, March 31st. 1877. Original antique print recording the only ‘dead-heat’ in the history of the race.
University Boat Race is an annual rowing race between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club, rowed between open-weight eights on the River Thames in London, England. It is also known as the Boat Race and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. The first race was held in 1829 and has been held annually since 1856, except during the First and Second World Wars. The course covers a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) stretch of the Thames in West London, from Putney to Mortlake. Members of both teams are traditionally known as blues and each boat as a “Blue Boat”, with Cambridge in light blue and Oxford dark blue. As of 2017, Cambridge has won the men’s race 82 times and Oxford 80 times, with one dead heat. Cambridge has led Oxford in cumulative wins since 1930. The course is 4 miles and 374 yards (6.779 km) from Putney to Mortlake, passing Hammersmith and Barnes; it is sometimes referred to as the Championship Course, and follows an S shape, east to west. The start and finish are marked by the University Boat Race Stones on the south bank. The clubs’ presidents toss a coin (the 1829 sovereign) before the race for the right to choose which side of the river (station) they will row on: their decision is based on the day’s weather conditions and how the various bends in the course might favour their crew’s pace. The north station (‘Middlesex’) has the advantage of the first and last bends, and the south (‘Surrey’) station the longer middle bend.