Spring festivities kick off in London this Saturday with the 157th rowing competition between England’s two most famous universities, Oxford & Cambridge, in what is simply known as The Boat Race. The 4-mile race winds along a west London stretch of the Thames, from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge where nearly a quarter of a million spectators gather to cheer on the teams. The Cambridge Light Blues lead the Oxford Dark Blues 80-75 (they have tied just the once, in 1877) and are defending their 2010 title.
Over 120 million people in over 150 countries will watch the boats compete. Television coverage is broadcast on BBC1, BBC America and BBC World. But there’s nothing like seeing it live to appreciate the impressive strength of the oarsmen and the speed they generate.
Bishops Park in Fulham near Craven Cottage, Furnival Gardens near Hammersmith Bridge, and Chiswick Pier are hosting free Race Day events with giant televisions screens, plenty of beer and food, live music, and family events. Fulham Football Club also throws a party for £10 per person which includes entertainment, hospitality, and prime riverside viewing. Alternatively, pack your own food and drink and find an empty spot on the banks. The races finishes at Chiswick Bridge where you can witness the winning team traditionally throwing their cox into the river.
The 157th Boat Race takes place on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 17:00.
top image: courtesy of The Boat Race
bottom image: Jonty Wareing / flickr