30066 – The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
One of the great amateur sporting spectacles takes place on the River Thames in London – the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
British universities are still regarded as among the best in the world – and the best of the best are said to be Oxford and Cambridge.
The rivalry is intense, and not just academically. There are several sporting fixtures between the two great institutions but perhaps the best known is the annual rowing race which has become a major international sporting occasion drawing millions of television viewers from around the world.
Up to a quarter of a million people line the banks of the River Thames in London from Putney to Mortlake to see the action.
The eight men in each team teams are traditionally known as blues with Cambridge in light blue and Oxford dark blue.
To be part of a crew, an athlete has to be a student at either Oxford or Cambridge University. And there is no let-up allowed in their studies as they prepare for the race.
The weather has always played an important part in the Boat Race. Even in good years wind can play its part but in a bad year the effects of waves, torrential rain and gale force winds can make racing incredibly difficult. And with the race at the end of March or early April the tidal part of the River Thames over which the race is rowed is prone to be at its most difficult.
All this bad weather means that over the years crews have either become waterlogged or on five memorable occasions have sunk completely.