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.
Tutor, The English Manner