The Boat Race 2020: A Guide

By Matthew Pearson

All you could possibly ever need to know about The Boat Race 2020, including...

  • What it is
  • When it is
  • Where it is
  • What The Goat Race is
  • When that is
  • Where that is
  • And much much more...

What is The Boat Race 2020?

It’s this year’s iteration of the famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. It’s sometimes called the University Boat Race, sometimes the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. But you and I can call it, simply, The Boat Race.

And what is The Boat Race?

The Boat Race is an annual rowing race between the Oxbridge universities’ men’s and women’s boat clubs. It’s rowed by teams of eight and is taken very, very seriously. The men’s race traces its history back to 1829, and has been held annually since 1856. The women’s race was first introduced in 1927, and started being held annually from 1964. It wasn’t until 2015 that the two races were held in the same place and on the same day. Nowadays, both events are referred to collectively as The Boat Race. It’s got a whole load of history, it’s a fierce sporting rivalry, it’s quintessentially British and it takes place in London.

Where in London does it take place?

On the River Thames, of course. You probably could have guessed that. The course runs from Putney to Mortlake in West London, running from east to west along the river, traveling upstream. It’s known as The Championship Course and is just over 4 miles long, following an S shape with three main bends.

When is The Boat Race 2020 taking place?

The Boat Race 2020 is taking place on Sunday 29th March. The men’s event begins at 15.44, the women’s at 16.44.

Can I watch The Boat Race 2020 in person?

You absolutely can. Over a quarter of a million people watch the race in person each year, from either side of the Thames. Millions more watch it on television, where it’s broadcast by the BBC.

Where can I watch it from?

You’ve got option after option when it comes to perches from which to watch The Boat Race 2020. Each one offers something different, giving you a different stage of the stage, a different perspective on the unfolding battle. Putney Bridge offers great views of the starting line. You can watch the teams try to get an early advantage as they head up to The Fulham Bend. Then head over to Bishop’s Park to watch the rest of the race on the big screen. Later on in the race, Hammersmith Bridge and Chiswick Pier offer good vantage points from which to see the rowers. At these mid-points, the crews make decisive moves to try and put this thing to (river) bed. If you want to see one team snatch glory, try the Emanuel School Boathouse or Dukes Meadow. These two are towards the end of the race, so you’ll see the whole thing decided. [caption id="attachment_6381" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash[/caption]

Is there a fan park where I can watch the race on a big screen? You know, like with football?

You’ve got a couple of choices in this department too. And many of them are located close to viewing areas along the course. So, you can see some of it in real life. Then you can enjoy the rest on the big screen. First off, you’ve got Bishop’s Park. There’ll be a big screen, bars, food and funfair attractions. It’s located on the northern end of Putney Bridge, right bang at the start of the race. It’s free to enter, opens at noon, and wraps up around 18.30. Then there’s the Wainwright Fan Park, located in Hammersmith’s Furnivall Gardens. You can catch the teams IRL as they pass through the Hammersmith Bend. And you can catch them URL on the big screen, which’ll be broadcasting both races as covered by the BBC. It’s free to enter, family friendly and ideally situated just a 10 minute walk from Hammersmith Station. There’ll be plenty of street food to choose from and drinks provided by the Wainwright brewery. Soft drinks too. St Mary’s Church, close to the start of the race, is the ideal spot for families looking to enjoy the day together. They host The Boat Race 2020 Family Day from noon, with a big screen showing the BBC coverage, Boat Race-themed games for the kids, a bouncy castle, face painting, a barbecue and plenty of stalls. You can see the teams set off down The Thames from the church, located at the southern end of Putney Bridge. [caption id="attachment_6383" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Any other ways of getting involved?

Head to a pub. Plenty will be showing The Boat Race 2020 action unfold. There’s something deliciously enticing about sinking a couple of late-March pints whilst watching world class athletes compete. For our guide to the best sports pubs and bars in West London, get yourself over HERE.

Give me some stats...

In the men’s event, Oxford University Boat Club have won 80 of the bouts. Cambridge University Boat Club are ahead on 84. There was a dead heat too, way back in 1877. But more on that below. In the women’s race, Oxford University Women’s Boat Club have won 30 of the races so far, with Cambridge ahead there too, with 44 victories to date. The reigning champions, in both the men’s and women’s races, are Cambridge. The Cambridge men’s team are looking to make it three victories in a row at The Boat Race 2020, the women’s team are looking to make it four on the bounce. The course record in the men’s event was set in 1998. The time? 16 minutes, 19 seconds. The winners? Cambridge. The course record in the women’s event was set in 2017. The time? 18 minutes, 33 seconds. The winners? Cambridge. Basically, Cambridge are the team to beat at the moment, and can claim most of the main records going back. Still, it’s been a topsy-turvy contest between the two unis since the tradition started. Both have put together periods of dominance and come to seem unbeatable. Then they get beaten. That’s why it keeps the public interested, the viewers tuning in and the supporters turning up. [caption id="attachment_6382" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Anything else I should be aware of?It's a charitable event

The official charity of The Boat Race 2020 is the RNLI. All donations taken at the event benefit the Chiswick lifeboat crew. Funds raised go towards training and equipment for the Chiswick crew, helping them have the skills and kit they need to save lives on the Thames.

There's an alternative event that's really taken off in recent years

There is an alternative event taking place on the same date. It takes just a little inspiration from The Boat Race 2020. Its name? The Goat Race. Yes, The Goat Race is exactly what it sounds like. Two goats, one called Oxford, the other called Cambridge, in canoes, thrusting their way down the Thames—. No, unfortunately it’s a land race, goat on goat, with no oars necessary. It’s still a blast though. They run around a farm. It’s held at Spitalfields City Farm and raises money for said farm. It’s a pleasant day out too, with drinks and eats and everyone’s tongues firmly in their cheeks, fully aware they’ve chosen to do something with their Sunday that’s based solely on the quality of a punny name. To find out more, head HERE.

Boat Race is cockney rhyming slang for...

In cockney rhyming slang, ‘Boat Race’ means face. As in: “Are you going to watch The Boat Race 2020?” “Well, I’m pretty busy on Sunday 29th March 2020, what with The Goat Race and all, but maybe I’ll show my boat race.”

The dead heat

As mentioned above, there was once a dead heat in the men’s race. Both teams finished in 24 minutes, 8 seconds in poor weather. Stories persist that the race judge, John Phelps, was unable to call the result with any authority as he was over 70 and blind in one eye, and possibly biased against Oxford. Others conjure up tales of him being drunk under a bush when the teams finished. This is all probably untrue, and the result was more likely indicative of the fact the judge had no technology to assist him with his judgements.

There've been plenty of famous participants over the years

Famous sportsperson participants over the years have included Olympians Matthew Pinsent (Oxford 1990, 1991 and 1993) and James Cracknell (Cambridge 2019) who, at the age of 46, became the oldest competitor to take part in The Boat Race. Others to have taken part in The Boat Race include TV presenter and historian Dan Snow (for Oxford in 1999, 2000 and 2001), photographer and royal by marriage Lord Snowdon (for Cambridge in 1950) and the comedian and actor Hugh Laurie (for Cambridge in 1980). So, we reckon that’s all you could possibly need to know about The Boat Race 2020. Maybe a little more than you need to know about The Boat Race 2020. But if you have anything to add or ask, let us know in the comments below. Have you been before? And will you be turning out this year? Do you have a horse in the race? What’s your horse doing out there? It’s meant to be a race between human adults. Your horse can’t row can it? It can? WHAT.

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Celebrate New Year's Eve in London

If you’re one of the lucky ones to be spending New Year’s Eve in London this year, then you might want to consider this list of things to do if you haven’t got plans already. London’s one of the best capitals in the world to celebrate in – and we don’t exactly do it in halves, either! From breath-taking fireworks on the Thames, to a Scottish-themed alternative – there’s plenty to do for everyone, kids and adults alike. So if you’re ready to celebrate the end of 2014, then read on... Fireworks Display Because the London Eye’s Fireworks Display has been such a success over the years, this year it was decided that it would be ticketed. Unfortunately all the tickets have now sold out, but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t get a great view from different points along the river. Primrose Hill, in North London, is one of London’s best vantage points, so we recommend you head up Hampstead Heath for sweeping views over the city. What’s more, it’s free and there are no restrictions on drinks if you want to fill a thermos with coffee (or mulled wine). If you’re south of the river, another one of our favourite spots to catch a range of firework displays is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Set up on the summit of Greenwich Park, you can look over the O2 and East London, as well as over neighbouring Blackheath, and see the horizon lit up at the stroke of midnight. You might be stretched to see the ones at the London Eye but you’ll definitely get your fair share of light displays throughout the evening. Go Bowling I bet you haven’t ever been bowling over New Years! If you have, or if you fancy it again, then this will be right up your lane. All Star Lanes in Shoreditch, Holborn and Bayswater hosts annual New Year’s Eve retro bowling parties and this year they're back with a bang! Fifties lovers, and those looking for a laugh, this is a great place to spend the New Year. You can book a range of packages, including a two course dinner, Prosecco and a game of bowling, plus there’s a prize for the best dressed – so make sure you’ve got your glad rags with you. Throughout the evening there’ll be a DJ spinning everything from funk to rock ‘n’ roll, to get you in the mood true retro style. Alternative Ceilidh Got a spring in your step about 2015? Well maybe you should take it out on the dancefloor! London’s electronic Ceilidh Night, in the heart of London’s East End, is a great alternative New Year's Eve to indulge in a bit of Gaelic traditional Scottish dancing . Don’t worry if you have no idea what a ceilidh is (FYI it’s pronounced kay-lee) the DJ will instruct you as you go - and no one takes it that seriously... Forget your bagpipes, too, it’s all about bass. Get your dancing shoes at the ready for a really random start to the New Year! Head down to Hackney Downs Studios, from 8.30pm. Winter Wonderland If you’re with the kids, you might not be planning on staying out late to watch the clock strike 12am but you might still be looking for fun things to do on the night. A child-friendly (but fun) option to celebrate the run up to 2014/2015 is Winter Wonderland. This Christmas Market doesn’t close until 10pm so you can make the most of the winter evening, fun fairground rides, food stalls and ice skating – and get the kids tucked up in bed before the New Year. It’s a fun family night and with plenty to do it’s a great way to hold on to that last bit of festive cheer before the holiday season is truly over. Midnight River Cruise Probably one of the most romantic things to do in London over New Year is to take a midnight Thames River Cruise with City Cruises. Not only will you have a prime view over the much-celebrated fireworks, as mentioned above, but you’ll have a selection of dining options depending on the package you choose. From a simple picnic, to a full blown four-course dinner, there are plenty of ways to celebrate New Year’s aboard a River Cruise on the Thames. We recommend you book early though, as spaces are limited, but it’s a great thing to do and you’re guaranteed unbeatable views. If you’re a sucker for romance – and fireworks – it might be a winning combo... Make sure you check the London Weather Forecast in advance and bring plenty of layers if you’re celebrating outside.
Vanessa Teo

Christmas Markets in London

Get in the festive spirit and celebrate December with a very merry Christmas Market. With a wide range of markets to choose from, from your arts-and-crafts to your fairground-fun you can’t help but fall captive to London’s Christmas spirit. As soon as we get a hint of winter, out comes the mulled wine and cider and mince pies as a warming remedy after a day shopping or ice skating. So here are some of our favourite Christmas Markets in London which we recommend you visit whilst you’re here over the festive period. Kew Gardens Christmas at Kew is an enchanting, illuminated trail through the gorgeous Kew Gardens. Take a walk through the mile-long trail and weave your way through a wonderland of lights and musical installations. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a night-time fairytale; a land of illuminated tulips, giant mistletoe, a tunnel of lights and a Santa’s Grotto. That’s not to mention the fairground and bumper cars for the kids, too. Everywhere you turn you’ll be serenaded with Christmas carols and classic festive tunes from Frank Sinatra to the Nut Cracker. It’s a great experience for families and kids, and especially romantic if it’s just the two of you. Open: 26th November 2014 – 3rd January 2015, 5pm to 10pm. Adult: £17; Child: £12 Winter Wonderland This Christmas Market-come-Extravaganza is a great one for everyone! Right in the middle of Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland is London’s most central Christmas experience and is exactly what it says on the tin; a veritable ‘wonderland’. With a Ferris wheel, ice skating, fairground rides, mini-rollercoasters and a Bavarian village complete with wooden chalet-style bars serving everything from ‘deer’s blood’ (aka mulled wine) to egg nog and hot cider, it’s a great place to go in both the evening and night. Winter Wonderland is also a great place to go for some artisan knick-knacks and you can find everything there from novelty scarves and slippers, to hand-made silver jewellery and candles. Make sure you’ve got plenty of stamina as there’s a lot to explore, but don’t worry you’ll be well fed and well watered along the way with a wide range of food and drink stalls to stop at. Open: 21st November – 4th January 2015, 10am – 10pm. Entry is free but attractions run on ‘token’ sold at various points inside. Enchanted Woodland One of the lesser known Christmas experiences, the Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park is akin to the experience at Kew Gardens, and is pretty much around the corner in West London. Home to the Duke of Northumberland when he’s in London, Syon Park is another spectacular old estate whose gardens date back over 600 years. Syon Park is illuminated with dreamlike light installations and comes alive at night. It's a breath-taking walk through a quiet part of London and you won’t find any screaming children on merry-go-rounds here, so it might be a better option for those looking for a calmer, Christmas retreat. Catch it for its last weekend, before it closes 7th December. Open: 5pm - 9pm Fridays – Sunday. Adult: £7; Child: £3 Winterville Like any East London pop-up event, Winterville promises an alternative Christmas Market experience. With street food traders and a wide range of drink venues to choose from, it’s a great one to go to (especially for a younger crowd) if you want a mould-breaker of a market. Get your skates on if you fancy a go in the Ice Rink, or if you want something a bit more energetic there’s also a Roller Disco and the Wall of Death, a motordrome, where you can watch vintage motorcycles and daredevil stuntmen perform thrilling acts. Stick around in the evening when Winterville puts on Cabaret and Comedy nights, and even club events, too. You’ll have a Hot Cider Bar, Craft Beer area and an onsite Pub to choose from to keep you going well into the evening, so visit their website for more information if you fancy a bit of late night Christmas fun. Open: 2nd December – 1st January 2015, 10am – late. Entry is free but tickets for the attractions and events can be purchased at various points inside. Winter Festival Southbank’s Winter Festival is back another year and is – arguably – one of the most picturesque Christmas Markets in London thanks to its unique riverside position. At any time of year the Southbank is bustling with visitors and locals who like to take a walk along the promenade overlooking the Thames, Westminster and London Eye and at Christmas it's even more enchanting. Lined up along the river are stalls and selling festive food, gifts and more - plus, this year, there's a new Viewing Deck Bar where you can take refuge from the cold and warm up with a mulled wine or cider. The Winter Festival also has a Christmas Tree Maze and a number of events and shows to enjoy from the world of circus and burlesque to stand-up comedy nights. Open: 5th November – 4th January 2015, 10am – late. Entry is free but tickets for the shows and events can be purchased at the ticket offices.
Vanessa Teo

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