The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race takes place every year on a stretch of the River Thames.

But when is the Boat Race 2017? And what time is the Boat Race?

When is the Boat Race 2017?

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race 2017 – the 163rd edition - takes place on Sunday April 2.

The first Boat Race was held in June 1829 at Henley on Thames after two school friends – Charles Wordsworth and Charles Merrivale - who were at Oxford and Cambridge respectively, decided to set up a rowing challenge between the two universities. Oxford won the first race.

The Boat Race did not become an annual event until 1856.

The first Woman’s Boat Race was held in 1927. In recent years, with Olympic successes and advances in gender equality, there has been a growing interest in the Women’s Boat Race. In 2017, for only the second time in the races’ history, the men’s race, the women’s race and the races between both reserves teams will all be held on the same day – Sunday, April 2.

What time does the Boat Race start?

This year the women’s race starts at 4.35pm and the men’s race at 5.35pm.

The pre-race coin toss will be at 2.45pm, but if you’re going to watch the race live, expect riverside events to kick off around 12pm.

Race start times are determined by the times of tides on the Thames.

How long does the Boat Race take?

The men’s team takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete the 4.2-mile course. Last year’s winning time was 18 minutes 38 seconds. Weather and water conditions can have a big effect on the race’s duration.

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What is the Boat Race?

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is a now-annual rowing competition held between crews from Oxford and Cambridge universities. The race is held over a 4.2-mile course on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake. The fastest crew wins.

Over the years the competition has evolved from one involving mainly enthusiastic amateurs to one that fosters and features some of the biggest names in rowing.

Famous names who have competed in the Boat Race over the years from outside the world of rowing include actor Hugh Laurie, who rowed for Cambridge in 1980. Historian and TV presenter Dan Snow raced three times for Oxford between 1999 and 2001. American twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, famous for their dispute over the founding of Facebook, competed for Oxford in 2010.  

What is the Boat Race route?

The Boat Race route is known as the Championship Course. Crews start at Putney Bridge in southwest London. The finish line is just before Chiswick Bridge.

Boat Race

When watching coverage of the race, you might hear the terms ‘Middlesex side’ and ‘Surrey side’ to identify the position of the boats. ‘Middlesex side’ refers to the north side of the Thames (and, therefore, the boat on that side of the river). ‘Surrey side’ refers to the south side of the Thames (and the boat on that side of the river).

Key landmarks along the route which are used as waypoints include Fulham Football Club, Harrods Depository and Hammersmith Bridge. 

Who races in the Boat Race?

Crews from Oxford and Cambridge universities take part in the Boat Race. The main men’s and women’s crews are referred to as the Blues. Two reserve crews also race – one women’s one men’s. The Cambridge reserve crew is known as Goldie and the Oxford reserve crew is known as Isis.

A racing crew is made up of eight rowers and a cox.

This year’s Oxford men’s crew is made up of: William Warr, Matthew O’Leary, Oliver Cook, Joshua Bugajski, Olivier Siegelaar, Michael di Santo, Jamie Cook, Vassilis Ragoussis and cox Sam Collier.

Their opponents are: Ben Ruble, Freddie Davidson, James Letten, Tim Tracey, Aleksander Malowany, Patrick Eble, Lance Tredell, Henry Meek and cox Hugo Ramambason.

The Oxford women’s crew comprises: Florence Pickles, Alice Roberts, Rebecca Esselstein, Rebecca te Water Naude, Harriet Austin, Chloe Laversick, Emily Cameron, Jenna Herbert and cox Eleanor Shearer.

Their Cambridge opponents are: Ashton Bown, Imogen Grant, Claire Lambe, Anna Dawson, Holly Hill, Alice White, Myrian Goudet, Melissa Wilson and cox Matthew Holland.

Who has won the most Boat Races?

In the men’s race, Cambridge holds the lead with 82 victories to Oxford’s 79. There has been one dead heat, in 1877, when both crews were so close at Chiswick Bridge that there was no way to determine who was the leader in bad weather at the finish line.

There have been several ‘sinkings’ in the race – where a boat has taken on so much water that it is unable to finish the course. The last time this happened in the main race was in 1984, when the Cambridge boat collided with a barge at the start of the race  which then had to be rescheduled for the next day. Oxford subsequently won the rearranged race – the first to be held on a Sunday – in a course record time.

Despite Cambridge’s overall lead, in recent years Oxford has been dominant, winning three out of the last four races.

When is the Boat Race on TV?

TV coverage starts at 4pm on BBC One.

Where can I watch the Boat Race live?

Many spectators line both banks of the race route on the Thames to soak up a festival atmosphere in hopefully spring weather. This year there are special events in Bishop’s Park Fulham, as well as a fan zone in Furnivall Gardens, Hammersmith.

Photo credits: Isabel Infantes/REX/Shutterstock, London News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock