Boat Race in Hot Water
Smoke on the water
Just eleven days before the big event, the boat race is feeling the heat. The most prestigious contest in the varsity sports calendar might lose one of its biggest sources of funding.
Traditional wooden boats are used to give the boat race’s most generous sponsors a close view of the blues battling it out on the Thames. However, as per the Small Passenger Boat Code the Port of London Authority (PLA) has decided that the petrol engines that power these boats pose a fire risk.
All boats in the flotilla will require a refit to diesel at a cost of £30,000 per boat.Without these changes, there is a significant risk that the boats will become engulfed in flames. Even though the boat’s operator claims that there has never before been an incident, the PLA has claimed that the risk is just too great.
Chas Newens, owner of the company that provides the flotilla for the Boat Race said, “We’ll need new engines but also new propellers, fittings, fuel tank. Everything has to change as otherwise it’s not compatible. It’s going to cost £30,000 per boat. As a company we cannot afford this money.”
“For years I’ve been involved, and we’ve never ever had a fire. All the launches that were running then, they were all petrol and we never had a problem. But this could be the last year for the boats.”
To add insult to injury, the boats cannot easily be replaced as their hulls are specially designed for minimum interference with the rowers. The removal of these wooden boats would hugely shrink the flotilla, forcing sponsors to take inferior seats elsewhere.
Furthermore, the boats don’t just carry high-flying sponsors. Organisers and umpires use the vessels to observe the race from close quarters. Hence, any incident would have significant impact on the organisation of the race. We’re all for fiery competition, but actual flames are too great a cost to watch the Light Blue dominate.
Although there are on average 250,000 spectators every year, the event costs £1 million to run. With the future of its sponsorship deals with BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management already in doubt, it’s unclear whether the organisers can take another financial blow.
Cambridge are currently looking to widen their 82-79 lead over O*ford, building on last year’s victory. Let’s hope that we’re able to race so we can come back from our miserable performance in the QS World Subject Rankings.
It’s currently unclear whether this will be a fatal blow to our proudest sporting institution, but it could be the beginning of the end.