Catch all the Boat Race action, drink in hand, from a vantage point on the Thames. WORDS: Daniel Landon
The Boat Race between the rowing teams of Oxford and Cambridge universities, held on the Thames every year, is a huge event on the London social calendar.
Let’s face it though, rowing ain’t exactly the king of spectator sports. For most people the fun of this event is boozing it up on the riverbank or in one of the many fantastic waterside pubs with views of the race.
But why stand around in just one pub when you can go on a Boat Race pub crawl?
Make it happen
There’s no shortage of places to have a drink along the 6.79km route from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge. Putney has better transport options (making it easier to get home at the end of the day) and more post-race entertainment.
So start at Chiswick Bridge and then head down river.
Some venues require you to buy a ticket in advance, so we’ve chosen pubs that will have outside bars and barbecues to make getting a drink and feed as easy as possible.
The Ship (10 Thames Bank, Ship Ln, SW14 7QR) near Chiswick Bridge is a great old pub that will be firing up the barbecue from noon, so load up on food in preparation for the fun ahead.
About half a kilometre along the river, in an elegant Victorian building, is Ye White Hart (The Terrace, SW13 0NR).
The balcony area will be ticketed, but the rest of the pub is open to all, with TV screens showing the race action.
Head under the bridge to the historic Bull’s Head (373 Lonsdale Rd, SW13 9PY) in the heart of genteel Barnes.
Take a toilet break here as it’s a half-hour walk to the next pub.
Head north along the Thames to Hammersmith Bridge (which will be closed to pedestrians while the race is on) and cross to the north bank of the river.
For your next stop, take your pick from any of these four popular pubs on your left – all within a few hundred metres of each other with good views of the river: The Blue Anchor (13 Lower Mall, W6 9DJ), The Rutland (15 Lower Mall, W6 9DJ), The Dove (19 Upper Mall, W6 9TA) and The Old Ship (25 Upper Mall, W6 9TD).
Head back towards the bridge and continue east along the northern bank to The Crabtree Tavern (Rainville Rd, W6 9HA).
From here walk through Fulham and cross over Putney Bridge. There are plenty of bars around here, but nearby on Lower Richmond Road is The Duke’s Head (8 Lower Richmond Rd, SW15 1JN), which overlooks the river.
» For more information see theboatrace.org
On the day
The race starts at 3.40pm at Putney Bridge on Sunday, March 29.
The teams’ reserve crews (known as Isis for Oxford and Goldie for Cambridge) race at 3.10pm.
You can watch the race on big screens set up at Bishop’s Park (north-west of Putney Bridge) and Furnival Gardens (north-west of Hammersmith Bridge).
Boat race history
» This year will be the 155th boat race.
» Cambridge have 79 wins to Oxford’s 74.
» The first race was in 1829, at Henley in Oxfordshire. It moved to London the next year, then up to Putney in 1845, and became an annual event in 1856.
» The quickest finish time recorded is 16 mins 19 secs, by Cambridge in 1998.
Down Under influence
The Oxford crew has five rowers who raced at the Beijing Olympics, including New Zealander George Bridgewater.
The Cambridge boat has no Olympians but does have Aussie Hardy Cubasch, while their head coach Chris Nilsson is a Kiwi.