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.