Business of Rowing Seminar at Oxford Cambridge Boat Race

April 11th, 2015: FLI Seminar: History Of The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (Introductory Course)



FLI Boat Race Picture

Topic: The “Boat Race” is an annual contest between two rowing crews from Oxford and Cambridge universities. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames is one of the world’s longest running sports events, and one of the most popular on the London sports calendar.

Date: 11 April 2015

Schedule: Participants of the course meet before noon on 11 April 2015 to be introduced to the history of the event, a ca 4 hour during course over lunch, followed by watching the race live from Putney Embankment. The women’s race starts at 4.50pm, the men’s at 5.50pm. The course ends with a drink in a pub along The Thames.

Fee: Due to the massive crowd following the event, this course is set up for max 12 people.
Members of the Future Leadership Institute: 85 Euro (this does not include travel nor meals)
Non-Members of the Future Leadership Institute: 295 Euro (this does not include travel nor meals)

For more information: contact Gert Van Mol (gertvanmol -at-

Highlights this year

The women’s race:
This year, for the first time ever, The Newton Women’s Boat Race will take place on the same day as the men’s and be held on the same course (the women’s race has previously taken place in Henley). Founded in 1927, it wasn’t until the 60s that the race became an annual fixture and, even by then, the participtating female rowers faced abuse and ciritism from their male couterparts. Hoping to promote positive attitudes towards women in sport, the Women’s Boat Race will start at 4.50pm, an hour before the men’s race, and will be broadcast live on BBC television.

The mens’ race:
The men’s race doesn’t last very long; the record, set by Cambridge in 1998, is 16min 19sec. But the atmosphere will be building up along the course all day and your riverside walk, lingering lunch or extended session in the pub will be crowned by a sighting of one of the capital’s great sporting events.

The start:
The rowing clubs’ presidents toss a coin (an 1829 gold sovereign) for the right to pick which side of the river they row on. Choosing the Middlesex station means an advantage on the first and final sections of the race; the Surrey station has the advantage round the long middle bend. Don’t worry, the traditional terms ‘Middlesex’ station and ‘Surrey’ station signify nothing to most people, but in the lingo of some Londoners, Middlesex means the north bank of the river and Surrey, the south.

The Race takes place close to Easter each year on the River Thames in West London between Putney and Mortlake. The first race took place in 1829 in Henley on Thames following a challenge between old school friends. Since the second race in 1836 the contest has taken place in London. The 2015 BNY Mellon Boat Race on 11th April will be the 161st contest; Cambridge lead the series with 81 victories to Oxford’s 79, with one dead-heat in 1877.

Foundations of The Boat Race:
The race came about because two friends from Harrow School, Charles Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth), of Christ Church College, Oxford, and Charles Merrivale of St. John’s, Cambridge, met during the vacation in Cambridge, where Wordsworth’s father was master of Trinity.
Wordsworth went rowing on the Cam, and the two school fellows decided to set up a challenge. On February 10 1829 a meeting of CUBC requested Mr Snow of St John’s to write immediately to Mr Staniforth of Christ Church stating ‘that 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.’
Staniforth and Snow had been schoolfellows and boating comrades at Eton.

FLI Boat Race Founders Charles Wordsworth and Charles Merrivale

The Boat Race founders Charles Merrivale and Charles Wordsworth

Course of the Race:

FLI Boat Race Course


FLI Boat Race Public

All the riverside pubs will be heaving, with the crowds spilling out onto the towpaths. If you’re planning to watch from a pub, dig in early and stand your ground.

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