London Boat Race 1829 – 4736
Boats are funny things aren’t they? I’ve always preferred London’s Routemaster buses, if I’m honest. However there’s something to be said for being able to travel across the water with the grace and speed of a hungry duck who’s just seen some bread floating atop a pond. The last time I was anywhere near water was when I rediscovered Atlantis. Needless to say, I was out of there as quickly as my time machine would allow, considering it was underwater and all. The bottom of the Marinara trench is not a friendly place to be… However that’s a story for another time.
This Saturday 11th April I’ll be back near the water, at a safe distance, to watch the London Boat Race. 2015 is a particularly special year as it’s the first time in history that both the men and women will row together on the same day and stretch of river. They won’t be competing against one another though; that won’t come until the year 2342, where the women’s team have completely dominated the sport and the men are campaigning to be excused from rowing against them any more on account of their bruised prides.
So, being a professor of time, space and everything in between, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the past, present and future of the races. Buckle up, the time space continuum can be a little bumpy and I absolutely insist on everyone wearing seat belts.
Here we go…
Ok, we’re here. The year is 1829 and Charles Merrivale of St. John’s College, Cambridge University, has just challenged his friend Charles Wordsworth (William Wordsworth’s nephew) of Oxford University to a rowboat race at Henley on Thames. I watched as Oxford utterly devastated Cambridge on that first race and no I’m not just saying that because I’m an honorary fellow of string theory at Oxford. *cough*
In 1836 the second race took place on the Thames between Putney and Mortlake, and has continued to do so ever since. Luckily for me, it’s mere seconds away by bus and from then onwards I’ve watched the two universities race intermittently until 1856, where it became one of my favourite yearly pit stops.
Almost one hundred years after it all began, the ladies of the Women’s Boat Race entered the fray in 1927 and were met with staunch opposition from the public. I almost couldn’t bear to watch but things have gotten better since then and, as I mentioned, in the future the women are so good at rowing that they can do it with no hands and still beat the men with minutes to spare. Blushes all round indeed.
The course is known as the Championships Course and rightly so because it’s four miles long, upstream, and at high tide. The contest starts just after Putney Bridge and passes under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge before finishing in Mortlake before Chiswick Bridge. Until now, I’ve never said the word bridge so much in my life.
As it stands, Cambridge are beating Oxford on both gender fronts with 78-81 for the men and 29-40 for the women. I don’t want to spoil anything so for now I’ll just say that the scores have evened out somewhat in the year 4736… You’ll just have to wait and see. Or maybe even hop on my Time Tour Bus yourself and ask me in person.
Crikes, look at the time! We’d better get back. Seatbelts on? Hold on tight.
Well, thanks for coming back in time with me. Perhaps I’ll see you there this weekend. Although I’ve heard it might rain so I may go to the 2016 one instead… If I’m not busy reapplying a waterproof chemical solution to the bus.
Only time will tell.