The historic annual Boat Race provided plenty of drama and brought thousands of spectators to West London.

A windy, wet Easter Sunday in West London was the setting for the 2016 Boat Races between rowing crews from the UK’s oldest and best-known universities, Oxford and Cambridge.

The choppy conditions proved difficult for crews, particularly the Cambridge women, who began taking on water early on in the race and were nearly sunk before managing to gradually recover.

The dark blues of Oxford took the title in the women’s race this year, posting a time of 21 minutes, 49 seconds in the four-mile-plus event. Oxford’s crew bested the Cambridge crew by 24 boat lengths and 71 seconds.

In the men’s races, Oxford was hoping to continue a winning streak and come within one win of evening the all time record between the two universities. Cambridge’s light blues squad had won 81 times and Oxford 79, with the dark blues on a three-win streak.

The 2016 win went to the men of Cambridge, however, who pulled ahead of Oxford early in the event and continued to stretch their lead throughout, winning by more than two lengths with a final time of 18 minutes and 38 seconds. It was their first win in the men’s Boat Race since 2012.

The Boat Race is an annual contest between rowing crews — both men’s and women’s — from Oxford and Cambridge universities.

First raced in 1829 and 1927, respectively, The Boat Race is among the oldest sporting events in the world. March 2016 saw the running of the men’s 162nd Boat Race and 71st Women’s Boat Race, both now taking place on the Championship Course starting from Putney Embankment. Cancer Research UK sponsors the boat races.

The 2016 Boat Races took place on Sunday, 27 March. The Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race began at 3.10pm GMT and The Cancer Research UK Boat Race at 4.10pm GMT.


The Boat Race course, known as the Championship Course, is four miles, 374 yards (6.8km) long. It stretches between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in South West London.

The races start downstream of Putney Bridge and pass under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge before finishing just before Chiswick Bridge.

The crews who win the coin toss before the race choose which side (or station) they will race on. The stations are known as Middlesex and Surrey, with advantages and disadvantages for each side based on the bends in the river. The Fulham/Chiswick side of the course is known as the Middlesex side. The Putney/Barnes side of the course is known as the Surrey side.

The Boat Races are rowed upstream, but are timed to start on the incoming flood tide. The Boat Race is usually an hour before high tide, with the Women’s Boat Race a further hour before so that the crews are rowing with the fastest possible current.

The record time over the course in The Boat Race is 16 minutes 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998. The standings in the race have Cambridge leading with 81 wins to 79 for Oxford. There has been one tie, and Oxford is going for a seventh win in nine years in 2016


Huge crowds regularly attend the race event, and more than 250,000 were expected in 2016. Unfortunately, transport to the West London site was expected to be difficult as a bridge replacement project was scheduled for the four-day Easter holiday weekend. The project closed stations at Putney, Barnes, Barnes Bridge and Chiswick.

Network Rail and South West Trains also advised passengers to avoid Clapham Junction station over the weekend, particularly on race day.

Related links: 

2016 Jersey Boat show gearing up for May bank holiday opening

Second annual Northern Boat Show set for June 2016