The Boat Race 2021 to be raced at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club take home the Blue Boat and Reserve races in 2019

This morning the Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) announced that The Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge will be held on the Great Ouse at Ely in April 2021. The event will see the 166th Men’s and the 75th Women’s boat races.

The decision to relocate the 2021 event reflects the challenge of planning a high-profile amateur event around continuing COVID related restrictions as well as uncertainty regarding the safety and navigation of Hammersmith Bridge. Hammersmith Bridge was closed to vehicles in April 2019 and closed to all pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic in August this year after concerns a crack had grown significantly during a heat wave. Following consultation with long-term partners in London, East Cambridge District Council, and the Environment Agency, The Boat Race are delighted to have strong local support, enabling them to hold the world-famous races in Ely, where the Cambridge University Boat Club is based.

Thousands gather to watch the 2019 Boat Race on Hammersmith Bridge

BRCL is now working with local authorities to ensure a safe event for the local community, crews, and coaches, as well as the volunteers and contractors helping to stage the races.

They are encouraging the millions of Boat Race fans to get involved at home, enjoying the event on the BBC and respecting any restrictions that may be in place at the time.

Dr George Gilbert, Chair of BRCL’s Race and Operations Committee:

"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. While we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators along the course, we will be inviting our communities and wider audience to get involved via our social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on the BBC."

The Boat Race athletes have been training under strict COVID-19 guidelines laid down by British Rowing, University sports departments and the Government. The crews trained on the water for two months before the November lockdown. The student athletes then began training at home on egos, committed to gaining their place in one of the crews to race in April 2021.

Oxford University Womens' Boat Club race on the Tideway in 2019.

BRCL have thanked their partners Wainwright Golden Beer, Chapel Down and the BBC for their support to help them deliver The Boat Race in 2021.

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