United Kingdom

Shock and oar: Spectators face £200 fine if they watch Boat Race from riverbank 

The last time the Boat Race was held away from the Thames in London was at the height of the Second World War.

Crowds lined the banks of the Great Ouse to cheer on the crews when it took place there in 1944.

But when the race returns to the same river in Cambridgeshire next Sunday anyone who tries to watch it from the bank could be fined.

Security officials and workers from the Environment Agency were patrolling the river last week to identify ‘unusual activity’ as the crews trained. The Oxbridge crews will race along a straight stretch of the river from Queen Adelaide Bridge in Ely to Victoria Bridge in Littleport

Signs warning of penalties have been put up to stop crowds from gathering to watch the annual clash between teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The notices state that anyone flouting the ban on spectators could be given a fixed penalty notice and fined £200. Fines will double for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

Security officials and workers from the Environment Agency were patrolling the river last week to identify ‘unusual activity’ as the crews trained.

People are being told to avoid footpaths along the river between noon and 6.30pm on race day. Covid-19 marshals will be stationed to make sure the public stays away.

Under current coronavirus rules, elite sports events must take place without spectators. This includes the Boat Race, which was moved from its normal route on the Thames because of structural problems with Hammersmith Bridge and Covid-19 concerns.

Signs warning of penalties have been put up to stop crowds from gathering to watch the annual clash between teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities. The notices state that anyone flouting the ban on spectators could be given a fixed penalty notice and fined £200

Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: ‘We had hoped that by the time the Boat Race was upon us we would be welcoming people to enjoy the event in person. Sadly this is not possible.

‘The safety of residents and those involved is paramount and the roads, footpaths and the river in the area will be closed to public access. I urge everyone to settle down on their sofa, to tune in to the TV coverage and of course to shout loud in support of Cambridge.’ 

The Oxbridge crews will race along a straight stretch of the river from Queen Adelaide Bridge in Ely to Victoria Bridge in Littleport.

Last year’s race was cancelled due to coronavirus and the decision to relocate away from its traditional home was announced in November.

When the race was last held in Ely in 1944 Oxford won by three-quarters of a length. This year’s clash will be the 166th between the men’s crews and the 75th for the women’s.

The last time the Boat Race was held away from the Thames in London was at the height of the Second World War. Crowds lined the banks of the Great Ouse to cheer on the crews when it took place there in 1944

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