Oxford boat race celebrations

Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race: times, crews and where to watch

The Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race, an annual London rowing event consisting of four 6.8km-long races, is this Sunday 26 March 2023.

The Women’s and Men’s Boat Races are side by side matches on the Thames from Putney to Chiswick, between the top crews of eight rowers and cox (8+) from each university, known as the ‘blue boats’ in reference to the colour of their kit; Cambridge are the ‘light blues’ and Oxford are the ‘dark blues’.

Between the blue boats’ races are the reserve races for the second/spare crews. The women’s reserve crews are called ‘Blondie’ (Cambridge) and ‘Osiris’ (Oxford). The men’s reserve crews are called ‘Goldie’ (Cambridge) and ‘Isis’ (Oxford). 

Women’s preview

Last year’s winners were Cambridge, however only the boat club president, Caoimhe Dempsey, has returned to the crew to defend the title. Last year was the fifth consecutive victory for Cambridge women, and they won in a record time of 18 minutes 22 seconds.

Cambridge have solidified their success in the last few years with a programme which accommodates the women’s menstrual cycles, and by combining their men’s and women’s squads training together under one club. Oxford University women’s boat club (OUWBC) has been separate from their victorious men’s programme, and suffered accordingly.

Combining resources with their 2022 Boat Race winning men’s squad might be the key to Oxford, who have won 30 times, turning the tide on Cambridge, who have 46 victories. Their 2023 press photos have sparked commentary as their kit appeared to have changed to OUBC – suggesting they might have privately united. However any transformation may take time to get results, and Cambridge are the favourites to win this year.

Cambridge University women rowing
The Cambridge women in light blue, Credit: Benedict Tufnell Row360 for The Boat Race

Men’s preview

This race is expected to be a tighter one than the women’s. Last year Oxford took the win, ending Cambridge’s previous six year long winning streak. Leading the dark blues from the stroke seat will be their 2019 president Felix Drinkall, who will be eager to win as he was ineligible to row in the 2022 winning Oxford crew.

The most recent 1-1 match between the universities at fours’ head saw the light blues narrowly beat the dark blues by 2.3s, and with close margins, this result may come down to the tactics of the cox (the steerer). Following his coxing of the Cambridge women last year, Jasper Parish joins his brother Ollie in the 2023 men’s crew, over CUBC men’s president and cox Ollie Boyne.

In 2022 Jasper Parish aggressively steered the women to victory, despite receiving many umpire’s warnings and a protest from the Oxford cox. The tideway is a long and difficult course to row on and steer perfectly, so experienced and determined leadership may be the deciding factor on Sunday.

Oxford University men rowing
The Oxford men in dark blue, Credit: Benedict Tufnell Row360 for The Boat Race

Boat Race Times and Crews

16:00; The 77th Women’s Boat Race

Cambridge Women’s Blue Boat (2022 winners): Bow – Carina Graf, 2 – Rosa Millard, 3 – Alex Riddell-Webster, 4 – Jenna Armstrong, 5 – Freya Keto, 6 – Isabelle Bastian, 7 – Claire Brillon, Stroke – Caoimhe Dempsey (President), Cox – James Trotman.

Oxford Women’s Blue Boat: Bow – Laurel Kaye, 2 – Claire Aitken, 3 – Sara Helin (President), 4 – Ella Stadler, 5 – Alison Carrington, 6 – Freya Willis, 7 – Sarah Marshall, Stroke – Esther Austin, Cox – Tara Slade.

16:15; The 48th Women’s Reserve Race

Blondie, Cambridge (2022 winners): Bow – Gemma King, 2 – Nicky Wotania, 3 – Janeska de Jones, 4 – Carys Earl, 5 – Clare Hole, 6 – Hanna Prince, 7 – Iris Powell, Stroke – Molly Foxell, Cox – Kate Crowley.

Osiris, Oxford: Bow – Sophie Kamhi, 2 – Kate Friesen, 3 – Helen Nielsen-Scott, 4 – Maria Nielsen-Scott, 5 – Phoebe Mountain, 6 – Lilli Freischem, 7 – Barbora Hlachova, Stroke – Juliet Russell, Cox – Anna Betteridge.

16:30; The 58th Men’s Reserve Race 

Goldie, Cambridge: Bow – George Hawkswell, 2 – Orlando Morley, 3 – Thomas Marsh, 4 – Cameron Mackenzie, 5 – Reef Boericke, 6 – Cameron Spiers, 7 – Luke Beever, Stroke – Sean Hayes, Cox – Ollie Boyne (President).

Isis, Oxford (2022 winners): Bow – Colson Andrews, 2 – Andrew Wakefield, 3 – Thomas Rigney, 4 – Saxon Stacey, 5 – Anthony Kenny, 6 – Peter Denton, 7 – Harry Amad, Stroke – Jan Ole Ernst, Cox – Louis Corrigan.

17:00; The 168th Men’s Boat Race

Cambridge Men’s Blue Boat: Bow – Matt Edge, 2 – Brett Taylor, 3 – Noam Moulle, 4 – Seb Benzecry, 5 – Thomas Lynch, 6 – Nick Mayhew, 7 – Ollie Parish, Stroke – Luca Ferraro, Cox – Jasper Parish.

Oxford Men’s Blue Boat, (2022 winners): Bow – James Forward, 2 – Alex Bebb, 3 – Freddy Orpin, 4 – Tom Sharrock, 5 – James Doran, 6 – Jean-Philippe Dufour, 7 – Tassilo von Mueller (President), Stroke – Felix Drinkall, Cox – Anna O’Hanlon.

How to watch the Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race


There will be live BBC One coverage with expert commentary of the races from 15:30 – 17:45, which millions tune in to watch annually. The broadcast covers the whole 6.8km race with live cameras from helicopter, the bank, umpire’s launch, and even directly from the racing boats – so you can watch the entire event continuously from start to finish.

Having a home viewing party avoids facing the weather or the cost of a west London pint, although the reserve (second team) races are not covered by the BBC.


To watch all the races and experience the atmosphere in person, join hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the banks of the Thames to catch a glimpse of the passing crews. The broadcast does not cover the reserve races, but they can be watched in person from the bank.

The towpath runs alongside the river for the majority of the racecourse, providing plenty of spots for riverside viewing. It should be noted that the bridges on the course are closed to spectators during the races (see closure times below).

Fan Parks 

Big screens will display live race footage from parks by the riverside in Fulham and Hammersmith which open at 12pm. These parks have a great atmosphere for the crowds, allowing fans to watch the entire race via broadcast yet also see the boats race past, including reserve crews.

There are toilets, stands selling refreshments and spectators can bring rugs and deck chairs. Furnivall Gardens is a 10 minute walk from Hammersmith station and you can bring your own alcohol.

Bishop’s Park however has security checking large bags and you cannot bring your own alcohol, but it does have covered areas and more seating provided. It is a 10 minute walk from Putney Bridge (district line) station or 15 minutes from Putney station. 


11 pubs are by the towpath, as shown on the map, and they are an excellent place to enjoy the races in person regardless of weather. Many have a higher, better view than the bank plus TVs broadcasting the live coverage inside. However they can become packed so booking ahead is advisable if you want to guarantee a spot.

The Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race course map with spectator information. Credit: The Boat Race

Road Closures

Hammersmith Bridge – complete closure; 11:00-18:00

Barnes Bridge -complete closure; 14:30-18:00

Putney Embankment – closed to vehicles; 10:00-19:00

Thames Bank – closed to vehicles south of chiswick bridge; 10:00-20:00

More information can be found on The Boat Race website.

Featured image credit: Benedict Tufnell Row360 for The Boat Race

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