Posts Tagged 'Thames'

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

This annual event is seen as a prelude to the British Season and this year takes place on 3rd April; it has taken place every year with exception of the two world wars. The course is four-and-a-quarter miles long and is held on the Thames river from Putney Bridge to Mortlake. The sporting event, which lasts around 20 minutes, is a race between two crews: one from Oxford University, referred to as ‘the Dark Blues'; the other from Cambridge University (‘the Light Blues’)..

The event never fails to draw large crowds, often with alumni from both Universities turning up to support their alma mater. Savvy spectators station themselves at rowing clubs along the course, or, the slightly more keen will get on a launch and follow the race for the duration.

Unlike other sporting events in the Season, spectator dress is casual (sometimes very casual) although past and present students of either Oxford of Cambridge University tend to turn up wearing varsity colours.

It is one of those very English occasions where everyone watches, either on the television from their armchair, or cheering on the river banks, whether or not they follow rowing for the rest of the year!  The weather is usually cold and windy, and by the time the boats have lined up the 20 minute race lasts for some considerable time.  Because of that, dress, which is casual (sometimes very casual) needs to take into account warmth and practicality as well as correct form.  We suggest a good warm scarf, blazer and possibly waterproofs, sturdy shoes, and warm layers.  Avoid taking umbrellas so as not to impair the view of your fellow spectators, and do remember to cheer without bawling, and to be a good sport.

Sporting etiquette is at its peak at this event, with the losing team leading the applause and congratulations for the winning crew.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is the third major event of the summer season after Royal Ascot and Wimbledon.  First staged in 1839, The Henley Royal Regatta takes place over the first weekend in July (from Wednesday to Sunday) in the town of Henley-on-Thames.

Whilst people often know quite a bit about racing and tennis, less is known about rowing and guests often visit Henley with little knowledge, and come away with not much more!  A rarity in boating events, the regatta pre-dates any international or national controlling body and as such has its own rules and organisation, although both the Amateur Rowing Association and the International Federation of Rowing Associations recognise the event. Stewards who are mostly former rowers themselves control the races.

The river view at Henley

The river view at Henley

The regatta can be viewed from several locations along both banks of the river Thames, although viewing areas for the general public are largely on the Berkshire side of the river. The Buckinghamshire side is limited to private clubs and residences as well as the odd bit of corporate entertainment and entry is not too expensive.  Young people have a fantastic time, and there are many opportunities for picnics with a really fun day out. The course is one mile and 550 yards long and there are 16 events over the programme.  It is relatively easy to attend via the Regatta Enclosure, but membership of the Stewards Enclosure is limited to 6000 and there is a very long waiting list of people wishing to join, who must be proposed by existing members, rather like entry to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.  There is a one-off membership fee and an annual subscription.  Members of the Royal Family do not often attend, although HRH Prince Michael of Kent can sometimes be spotted!

The event takes place during the first part of summer so the weather can be mixed. Henley is the right place to wear blazers, or cocktail dresses (and possibly a hat) for the ladies, although keen rowing fanatics may wish to get on board one of the Umpires launches and so something a little sturdier may be needed.  Ladies must wear a dress which covers their knees and are not allowed trousers or culottes.  Men must wear lounge suits or blazers with flannels and a tie or cravat, and if sporting a boater, these must be genuinely acquired  from a school rowing team or a rowing club.  Designer blazers are frowned upon, plain navy is best!  The most distinctive dress at Henley will be a cerise pink cap and tie:  this is the dress of the Leander Club, an almost exclusive body comprising those who have rendered special service to rowing.

A popular event in the corporate entertainment calendar, Henley is very male, very English and very charming.

The English Manner (www.theenglishmanner.com) are always happy to advise event-goers on dress or protocol. Please feel free to contact us for advice.

William Hanson & Alexandra Messervy
The English Manner



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