Boat Race Becomes Boat Races

Here come the girls. MICHAEL ALHADEFF reports on dramatic changes to The Boat Race.

The most historic fixture in the University sporting calendar has undergone a major face-lift.

It was announced today that from 2015, both men’s and women’s crews will compete on the same day over the same course. It has been seen as a radical shift in the history of the event as organisers try to promote equality within the sport.

The women will compete on the same day as the men from 2015

The announcement marks a landmark for the women’s Boat Race, first held in 1927. In the past the men’s event also took precedence on the iconic Thames whilst being screened to millions of viewers. In the past, the women have achieved a fraction of this audience when they take to the river at Henley; all this now looks set to change.

Four-time Olympic rower and former Dark Blue Sir Matthew Pinsent confirmed the start of a new era for the sport when he tweeted “Fantastic morning for the Boat Race. New sponsor in BNY Mellon and the Newton women’s event moves to London. On and up for both races.”

There was also delight in Cambridge as Izzi Boanas-Evens, President of CUWBC, spoke of the challenges the club faces with a move up to the tideway course. She added “No one is under any illusion about the challenge we are faced with, but everyone within CUWBC is fully committed to this move and look forward to it with excitement.”

But many will still want to scrutinise the practical aspects of the deal. The women’s race will take place before the men’s event so the coverage given to both events by broadcasters will be of particular interest. Equality will only be fully achieved when both clubs achieve the same profile in the public’s mind.

  • Dr Guyk

    This is a disaster. The male team will end up all wet and soggy. Bloody women drivers.

  • Boromir

    One does not simply study land economy…

    • Just no

      Anticipating that this will get very tired, very quickly, judging by the state of my facebook feed…

  • Equality

    All Varsity womens sports should be played on the same day and in the same venue as the mens…The womens footballers could play on the same day and at the same venue as the men ? It would be easy for the women to kick off at 12 before the mens game at 3pm ?

    • Public School Boy

      And yet still no-one would watch. There is a problem with equality in sports – people don't want to watch/read about women's sport. Tab netball articles never get onto the most read,men's football ones do, even when they are equally well-written.
      The majority of people who watch sport are men, and the majority of men prefer watching men's sport. So putting women's footballers in a professional stadium with no-one watching/caring is just going to cut up the pitch and waste people's time.
      It may be harsh, and I wish it weren't true (the women's blues football are actually great to watch), but arguing for equality in uni sport is ridiculous.

      • Suffragette

        Perhaps if the scores from both races were used to produce a total for each University then the Female team would be treated as total equals.

        By this method viewers would be forced to watch as the Female team would hold as much a key to success as the apparently more entertaining Male team.

    • Equal woman

      Unfortunately they will never get the same audience, because you have to admit that mens sport is just more exciting to watch. Men are bigger, faster and stronger genetically, so logically they're capable of more impressive sporting feats than we are. I don't really care about watching a women's boat complete the course slower than most college mens' crews could. It's just not the same spectacle.

      • But maybe

        Isn't it the race that's the spectacle though? The mental and physical battle between the two crews at their peak after months of intense physical preparation? That part is the same for men and women. The men's race isn't about watching them row the course, it's about watching the drama. A boat race in a 'slow' year can be more of a spectacle than a faster one – the actual speeds of the boats are irrelevant.

        • Alan fing Sugar

          Sadly (and this was said to me by a female CUWBC cox from years gone by), the standard of women's university-level rowing is simply not in the same league as men's university-level rowing.

          This saddened me, because I have seen how hard the women train, their dedication, and the hours of weights, erging and water time that they put in, and so ideally, in no way should they be treated differently to the men. However, it is true that the men's blue boats (and reserves) often contain international standard athletes, and the level of support afforded to them is significantly greater.

          As a commenter mentioned above, men generally prefer watching men's sports, and women (especially female coxes, despite the fact that many of them quite hilariously deny the fact) do rather enjoy watching athletic men getting hot and sweaty.

        • Steve Redgrave

          But the women's race isn't a spectacle — they currently race over 2k and the margins are large there — over the 7k you are going to have small bit of racing, and a large part of the slower crew trailing the faster crew by miles, which is rather boring. Yes the absolute speeds of the boats are irrelevant, but in the men's races the difference in speed between the two boats is generally much smaller than in the womens races.

  • floreat etona

    never a wet bob

  • Not really…

    I would LOVE to see people trying to make this argument in the footballing world – if you suggested equality, you would be called a fool. Not because the people who run the thing are rampantly sexist, but because that's what the viewing public will pay money to see. People want to watch men playing sport because its better viewing. Sorry girls, genetics are not on your side.

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