New Safety Measures For The University Boat Race

Following last year's disruption when a man swam into river

Extra security has been laid on for this year's University Boat Race following disruption last year when Trenton Oldfield swam into the river. The race takes place on March 31st, starting at 4.30 pm in Putney, and the Race Director David Searle has said that safety has been reviewed and security increased for this year's race.

Since the second race in 1836 the contest has taken place on the West London stretch of the Thames, starting at Putney and finishing at Chiswick Bridge.

There will be something going on all afternoon, starting with a Cutter Parade, featuring a group of cutters which will be moving up river from Dove Pier to Chiswick Bridge, clearing the course by 15.50. This is followed by two races, the Isis versus Goldie Race will start at 16.00 and then the Oxford versus Cambridge Race at 16.30.

The course itself is four miles 374 yards (6.8Km) long and the race starts an hour before high tide so that the crews can row with the fastest current. There are two sides to the river; Fulham and Chiswick are known as the Middlesex side and Putney and Barnes are the Surrey side with each boat sticking to its own side.

Oxford have won 76 of the 158 races, Cambridge have won 81 times, while the 1877 race was classed as a dead heat.

Cambridge traditionally wear light blue, with light blue blades, though in the first race in 1829 their colour was pink. Oxford wear dark blue with dark blue blades.

The race has strong Chiswick connections including, in 2011, a Chiswick teenager who became the youngest cox for over 100 years.

And last year the world’s media showed Trenton Oldfield being arrested at Chiswick Pier after recklessly swimming in front of the rowers, a crime for which he was later jailed for six months.

The organisers have said there will be extra security to avoid any similar disruptions. Race Director David Search said on BBC: "We are taking additional measures this year and we have looked at all of our actions last year."

"What I would say to anybody thinking of doing that, is that it's unbelievably dangerous.

"You risk getting killed, which would be tragic for them and for the people involved. Nobody wants that to happen. This is just a sporting event."

March 19, 2013