The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race 2021 to be raced at Ely

Next year’s Boat Race will be moved from the Thames to the Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire due to safety concerns

The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) has announced the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April 2021 will be held on the Great Ouse at Ely, rather than the Thames.

It is understood that the BRCL’s decision to move the race away from the River Thames for only the second time in its 165-year continuous history was primarily due to safety fears over Hammersmith Bridge.

Health and safety officials banned all river traffic from passing under the 133-year-old suspension bridge in August after inspectors discovered cracks in the structure.

The decision is also said to have alleviated Covid fears from officials, with the River Thames event traditionally attracting thousands of spectators along the banks and on the bridges along the route.

Dr George Gilbert, Chair of BRCL’s Race and Operations Committee, said: “Everyone is facing significant challenges right now, especially students up and down the country. Organising sport safely and responsibly is our highest priority and moving The Boat Race to Ely in 2021 enables the event to go ahead in a secure environment.”

Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC), who have trained on the River Ouse for decades and who opened a new £5 million boathouse at Ely in 2016, have today welcomed the move.

Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) is also said to be invigorated by the announcement, and according to the Telegraph, the team is “particularly excited about trying to turn Cambridge over on their home water”.

Organisers say the event will still be televised, with Dr Gilbert warmly “inviting our communities and wider audience to get involved via our social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on the BBC.”

Featured image credits: Pointillist, Wikimedia Commons