The Ultimate Guide To The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race 2024

By Olivia Emily

4 months ago

Everything you need to know

Rowing is a famously popular pastime in both Oxford and Cambridge – so why do the rowers descend on London’s River Thames every spring? Here’s everything you need to know about the Boat Race ahead of this weekend’s action.

Wondering where to watch? Click here for our top spectator spots

Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race 2024

What Is The Boat Race?

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race – otherwise simply known as ‘the Boat Race’ – is an annual side-by-side rowing race along a section of the River Thames in London. It takes place on the u-shaped stretch between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge. Despite the singular name, four races take place as part of the annual event:

  • The Men
  • The Women
  • Isis v Goldie (the men’s reserve boats)
  • Osiris v Blondie (the women’s reserve boats)

When Is The Boat Race 2024?

The Boat Race is returning to the Thames on Saturday 30 March 2024. This is the first time the races have taken place on a Saturday since 2018. From 2019 to 2023, the race took place on a Sunday. This year, we assume the organisers are avoiding a clash with Easter Sunday.

What Time Is The Boat Race?

The races will take place at the following times:

  • 2.46 pm: 78th Women’s Boat Race
  • 3.01 pm: Osiris v Blondie Race (Women’s Reserve)
  • 3.16 pm: Isis v Goldie Race (Men’s Reserve)
  • 3.46 pm: 169th Men’s Boat Race

Note that the reserve races are not usually televised. All of the races are earlier in the day in 2024, with the first race beginning at 4pm in 2023, and the last beginning at 5pm.


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Who Won The Boat Race In 2023?

In 2023, Cambridge achieved a clean sweep, winning all four races on 26 March 2023. This includes:

  • The women, with a winning margin of four and a half lengths
  • The men, with a winning margin of one and a third lengths
  • The women’s reserve race
  • The men’s reserve race

Who Has Won More, Oxford Or Cambridge?

Cambridge has won more Boat Races, leading 86–81 against Oxford after 168 races (the 1877 race was declared a ‘dead heat’). Though the statistics are close, Cambridge has actually been winning the rivalry in cumulative wins since 1930 – so Oxford has a big mission on its hands to snatch the title.

On the women’s side, Cambridge also leads, with 47 wins to Oxford’s 30 after 77 races.


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A Brief History Of The Boat Race

In 1829, one Cambridge student challenged an Oxford student to a rowing race at Henley-on-Thames; naturally, they attended Harrow School together. Allegedly, they somehow attracted a crowd of 20,000 spectators, who watched Oxford defeat Cambridge ‘easily’. Disorganisation meant the competition wasn’t repeated until 1836, when the River Thames played host to a new band of men. It happened again in 1839, and then again the year after, and the year after that, and thus began the annual Boat Race. In fact, part of the annual tradition is that the loser challenges the winner to a rematch.

Except for the years 1915–1919, 1940–1945 and 2020, the race has occurred annually since 1856, spanning eras and observing monumental changes in society. Notably, the women’s edition first occurred in 1927 on Oxford’s River Isis, and the crews were forbidden from racing side-by-side and were instead judged on ‘time and style’. It wasn’t until 2015 that the women’s race first occurred on the same day as the men’s race and in the same place; before 2015, the women’s race was usually rowed in Henley.

Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. A large crowd of people gather to watch the boat race on the Thames some on the beams under Barnes Bridge.

A Victorian engraving of a crowd watching the race at Barnes Bridge. (Getty)

How Long Is The Oxford Cambridge Boat Race?

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is a 4.2 mile (6.8 km) rowing race, taking place on the Championship Course on the River Thames.

In recent years, it has typically taken the men’s boats around 17 minutes and 30 seconds to complete the course, while the women usually take a few minutes longer.

Where Does The Boat Race Start And Finish?

The Boat Race starts at Putney Bridge and finishes at Mortlake every year (apart from in 2020, when it was relocated to Ely due to the pandemic).

A poster advertising the first race after World War 1, during which there was a hiatus. (Published by Underground Electric Railways Company Ltd, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Where To Watch The Action In 2024

From two great bridges to pretty parks and perfect pubs, check out our guide on where to watch the Boat Race for the loveliest spectator spots this year, along with special menus and banquets to boot.