How to make the most of a day at the Boat Race

If you’ve made your travel arrangements to get to the capital; booked yourself into one of London’s serviced apartments for a short stay; and packed clothes for every type of weather, it’s just the details of the Boat Race day itself you need to sort out.

Held annually on the River Thames, the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is full of tradition and a great day out for everyone. Whether you are rooting for the dark blues or the light turquoises, you can have lots of fun whoever the winners turn out to be.

From deciding on the best place to view the race to making sure your glass is fully charged, here’s everything you need to know about the Boat Race.

The lowdown

The Boat Race will be held on Sunday March 27th and will see the women’s competition kick off at 3.10pm and the men’s race an hour later at 4.10pm. The course is four and a quarter miles long, usually taking between 16 and 18 minutes to complete. While this is a relatively short period of time, the atmosphere throughout the whole day means people are hanging around by the river for much longer, so be sure to leave your serviced apartment early.

Viewing positions

Since it really is a case that if you blink you may miss the boats go by, it’s important you get a good spot from which to watch the race. The course begins at Putney Bridge and is completed when the first crew crosses the line at Mortlake, with these two locations good options for witnessing the start or finish.

Alternatively, disembark the Tube at Hammersmith or Kew Gardens and head towards the river. Barnes Bridge and Chiswick rail stations are also conveniently located near great places to position yourself to get involved with the Boat Race crowds. Anywhere on Putney Embankment is a good choice, as you will get a longer period to see the boats get closer and go past you.

Best pubs along the route

Many of the 300,000 spectators that are expected to watch the race will be found in and around the pubs along the course. Lots of drinking establishments in the vicinity put on special extras, such as barbecues or drinks deals to make the Boat Race day all the more special. Here are some of the best:

The Boathouse – East Putney

As its name suggests, this pub is right on the water’s edge and is the perfect place to see the start of the race, as its terrace overlooks Putney Bridge. Even once the boats have departed, there’ll be plenty going on, with hot dogs, pulled pork and live music all on the menu.

Star and Garter – Putney

Also well positioned is the Star and Garter, which will offer all-day live music from 12pm, on top of great views. Despite its three floors, this pub will get busy.

Blue Anchor – Hammersmith

You won’t need to leave the riverside to get another pint at the Blue Anchor, as the pub sets up an outside bar on Boat Race day. If the weather isn’t good, however, you can still sit inside and watch the action, since the TV screens will be showing the race.

Rutland Arms – Hammersmith

If you can’t get into the Blue Anchor then just along the way is the Rutland Arms, which offers similar views. It gets busy, but you can enjoy some good old-fashioned pub grub here if you want to refuel.

Dove – Ravenscourt Park

Probably the most popular place from which to watch the Boat Race and one that is part of the event’s traditions is Dove. Don’t expect to get a seat, but do get ready for shoulder-to-shoulder race day fun.

Ship – Mortlake

To view the finish line with a pint in hand you could do worse than the Ship. There’ll be a barbecue to tuck into and a DJ to keep the party going once the winning crew is crowned, so you can stay as long as you like.

Top tips for enjoying the Boat Race

  •  Decide on a plan and stick to it. If you suddenly change locations you may not be able to get a good spot and could end up missing out on all the action
  • Get there early to stake your claim on a little section of the bank
  • Prepare for all weather conditions. There will be lots of standing around, which is fine if you are well kitted out, but can be miserable if you’re cold
  • Take binoculars so you can get a close up view of what’s going on and who is currently in front
  • Be aware of the waves created by the flotilla that follows the two crews. If you’ve got a good viewing spot, you may be in danger of getting wet.

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