Hooray! The Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race Returns to London for 2022!
The Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race is an iconic British event, attracting hundreds and thousands of spectators each year, and many more who watch it on TV in their homes and pubs around the UK.
After two disappointing years – the race was cancelled in 2020 thanks to you-know-what, and the race took place on a different course in 2021 – the race returns to London on Sunday 3rd April 2022.
Here’s what you need to know…
Hooray, The Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race Returns to London for 2022
Stretching out between Putney and Mortlake is a gruelling 4.25 mile course along the Thames with a whole lot of history – and a healthy dose of uni rivalry thrown in for good measure.
The annual event, which takes place between rowing teams from Oxford and Cambridge University, is returning to London in 2022 for the 167th Men’s Boat Race and the 76th Women’s Boat Race.
Trust us when we say that you do not want to miss it.
What time is The Boat Race? The race is rowed upstream and is pedantically timed to start at the same time as the incoming flood tide.
This means that the Men’s Race usually starts 90 minutes before high tide, while the Women’s Race is held an hour earlier so that both teams are rowing with the help of a fast current behind them.
A Potted History of the Iconic Boat Race
It’s believed that the origins of the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race stem from two friends who had previously attended Harrow School together.
Charles Wordsworth (yes, that’s William Wordsworth’s nephew) attended Christ Church College in Oxford, while Charles Merivale was studying at St. John’s, Cambridge. The men met up when Wordsworth decided to row on the Cam and, following this, the two school pals thought that it would be fun to set up a challenge.
On the 10th February 1829, the Cambridge University Boat Club made the request that Mr Snow of St John’s would write to Mr Staniforth of Christ Church, stating:
‘The University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.’
It was then decided that the first Boat Race would happen on the 10th June that very year at Henley on Thames. In fact, Oxford won this race by a mile, and you can actually view the boat in Henley’s River & Rowing Museum.
Thereafter the races took place intermittently, eventually moving to London for the grand debacle we all know and love in 1836.
About The Course
Nicknamed The Championship Course, The Boat Race course is kind of a big deal.
Exactly the same route has been used since 1845 – except for a few dates when the race was flipped on its head and held in the opposite direction.
There are two University Boat Race Stones: one on Putney Embankment, which marks the starting spot; and another stone on the bank at Mortlake, marking the finish line.
Practical Tips + Top Spots for Watching the Boat Race 2022
As the race takes place on water, there’s nowhere better to watch the event than on the three bridges that mark the start, middle, and end of the course.
Putney Bridge is right before the start of the race; Hammersmith Bridge is located in the tense middle section, right before the bend; while Barnes Bridge overlooks the finish line.
As you can imagine, the latter two bridges get incredibly crowded during the race, so you’ll want to turn up very early for the best chance of getting great views. Or watch the start of the race at Putney, then rush to a nearby pub (we love The Boathouse) to see the rest.
Other brilliant pubs where you can watch the race include The Eight Bells near Fulham Palace, The Rutland Arms near Hammersmith Bridge (which has riverside seating where you can watch the action IRL) or The Bulls Head near Barnes Bridge.
Our recommendation? Pick a pub near the end of the course to watch until the end of the race and then head outside for a glimpse of the celebrations.