Henley Boat Races

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The Henley Boat Races
Henley Boat Races Logo.jpg
Contested by
Cambridge University Boat Club Rowing Blade.svg Oxford University Boat Club.svg
Openweight Women contested 1977–2014[1]
Lightweight Men contested 1975–2018[1]
Lightweight Women contested 1984–2019[1]
Lightweight Men's reserves contested 2000–2009 and 2016–2018[1]
Lightweight Women's reserves contested 2012 and 2016–2019
Collegiate Boat Races contested 2010–2019[1]
Course Henley Regatta course (downstream)
River Thames[2]
Course length
  • Blue Boats: 2000 m[3]
  • Collegiate races: 1750 m[3]
Number of wins[4]
CUWBC Openweights OUWBC
21 17
28 16
CUWBC Lightweights OUWLRC
19 17
Note: Last races on 31 March 2019 at Dorney Lake
Official website

The Henley Boat Races were a series of annual rowing races between various crews representing the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

The event included the Lightweight Men's Boat Race from 1975 to 2018, the Women's Boat Race from 1977 to 2014, the Lightweight Women's Boat Race from 1984 to 2019 and the Collegiate Boat Races from 2010 to 2019. Between 2015 and 2020, the openweight and lightweight Varsity races previously held at Henley were relocated to the Championship Course to match the openweight men's Boat Race, at which point the Collegiate Boat Races were scrapped.


Henley Boat Races took place annually in late March or early April the week before the University Boat Races, which are held on the Championship Course on the Thames in London.

The Henley Boat Races began as men's lightweight races in 1975 and enlarged to incorporate the Women's Boat Race and their reserve crew race from 1977 and the women's lightweight race from 1984.[5][6][7] In 2000, the lightweight men added a race for their reserve crews, Nephthys (Oxford) and Granta (Cambridge).[4] The races took place in 2001, at the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.[8] The lightweight men's race fell into abeyance after 2009 as a result of Cambridge not fielding a Granta crew from 2007, giving Oxford a row over for three years. From 2016, Nephthys and Granta raced again, sometimes on a different date or location to the main Henley Boat Races. A women's lightweight reserve race was held in 2012 prior to race day and took place from 2016 on race day.[9] The 2013 event was moved to Dorney Lake as a result of flooding on the Thames.[10][11]

In 2015, the Women's Boat Race moved further down the River Thames to the Tideway to take place as a combined men's and women's Boat Race.[12][13] The event was moved to Dorney Lake again in 2018 due to "adverse river conditions on the Thames at Henley" and the collegiate races were cancelled.[14][15] The Lightweight Men's Boat Race made the same move to the Tideway in 2019,[16] followed by the Lightweight Women's Boat Race in 2020, although the Lightweight Boat Races continue to operate separately to their openweight counterparts.

The races received annual press coverage,[17][18][19][11][20] and competitors from both Universities have gone on to compete at international and Olympic levels.[21][22][23][24]


Crews from the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge raced side by side over a 2000 meter course on the River Thames at Henley-on-Thames, racing downstream — the opposite direction to the Henley Royal Regatta course — and finishing halfway down Temple Island.[2] The collegiate races took place over a shorter 1750 m course.[3] The races typically included:[25]

An Alumnae race was typically held in later years. The lightweight races constituted the varsity race. The first crew received university half-blues, and was therefore more commonly known as the Lightweight Blue Boat. The reserve crew received university colours. The intercollegiate races were between the fastest crews from the Oxford Torpids and the Cambridge Lent Bumps; Oxford selection being done by time trial [27] and Cambridge giving right of first refusal to headship crews.[28]


The history of the results of the races are as follows.[4][29]

Women's Boat Race[edit]

The Women's Boat Race and its Reserve race became part of the Henley Boat Races in 1977. With the Women's Boat Race moving to the Tideway Championship Course and forming part of The Boat Races 2015, the race as well as the race of the reserve boats Osiris and Blondie ceased to be part of the Henley Boat Races.[13] For the full results tables, see the main article on the Women's Boat Race.

  • Cambridge: 21 wins at Henley
  • Oxford: 17 wins at Henley


double-dagger – The course was shortened in 2007 due to rough water during the Henley Boat Races. It was reduced from 2000 m to less than 1500 m with the start between the Upper Thames Rowing Club and Old Blades.[30]

Lightweight Men's Boat Race[edit]

  • Cambridge: 28 wins
  • Oxford: 16 wins

Lightweight Women's Boat Race[edit]

  • Cambridge: 19 wins
  • Oxford: 17 wins

Women's Reserves (Osiris vs Blondie)[edit]

  • Cambridge: 19 wins at Henley
  • Oxford: 19 wins at Henley

Lightweight Men's Reserves (Nephthys vs Granta)[edit]

  • Oxford: 9 wins
  • Cambridge: 4 wins

Lightweight Women's Reserves (Tethys vs CUWBC Lightweight Reserves)[edit]

  • Cambridge: 4
  • Oxford: 1

Raced on the Friday before the main event in a 4+ in 2012, and incorporated into main race day in 2016.

Men's Collegiate Boat Race[edit]

  • Cambridge: 7
  • Oxford: 2
a Collegiate races cancelled due to adverse weather conditions

Women's Collegiate Boat Race[edit]

  • Cambridge: 5
  • Oxford: 4
a Collegiate races cancelled due to adverse weather conditions


  1. ^ a b c d e "History". Henley Boat Races. 14 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Henley Boat Races - Course Map". Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Henley Boat Races - About". Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Results". Henley Boat Races. 14 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Cambridge University's top women rowers and the men's Lightweight crews are racing Oxford at Henley this Saturday 1 April". University of Cambridge. 30 March 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  6. ^ "The Henley Boat Races". Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  7. ^ "The Lightweight Varsity Race". Cambridge University Women's Boat Club. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Rowing Service Reports". www.total.rowing.org.uk. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Race schedule 2016". The Henley Boat Races. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Change of venue for 2013 races". The Henley Boat Races. 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Clean sweep for Oxford over Cambridge at Henley Boat Races at Dorney Lake". The Telegraph. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  12. ^ "The Cancer Research UK Boat Races". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Women's Boat Race to move to tideway". Henley Boat Races. 8 February 2012. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012.
  14. ^ e (18 March 2018). "The lightweight boat race: The Henley Boat Races 2018". WEROW. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Henley Boat Races - Alternative Venue". Henley Boat Races. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club look to make history". Cambridge Independent. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Rowing: Day for Light Blue celebration as Cambridge sweep Henley Boat Races". The Independent. 22 March 1993. Retrieved 3 April 2016; "Women's Boat Race: Cambridge women pass examination of rowing prowess". The Independent. 21 March 1994. Retrieved 16 April 2015; "The Henley Boat Races". Cherwell. 31 March 2010.
  18. ^ "Natalie Redgrave helps Oxford win Women's Boat Race". BBC sport. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Rivals share spoils at competitive Henley". The Telegraph. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Oxford Dominate Henley Boat Races 2013". Henley Herald. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2017; "Oxford Dominate in Last Women's Boat Race in Henley". Henley Herald. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2017; "Cambridge Win 3 out of 4 at the Henley Boat Races". Henley Herald. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2017; "Oxford and Cambridge Share Race Wins at Henley Boat Races". Henley Herald. 22 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2017; "Oxford and Cambridge Share Race Wins at Henley Boat Races". Henley Herald. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2018; "Cambridge University lightweights enjoy success at Henley Boat Races". Cambridge Independent. 21 March 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019; "Cambridge Blues make light work of Henley Boat Races". Varsity Online. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019; "Oxford Win Varsity Women's Lightweights at Henley Boat Races". Henley Herald. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  21. ^ "The Other Boat Race". BBC sport. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  22. ^ "CULRC". CULRC Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Men's Lightweight Rowing Club". Oxford University Sport. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  24. ^ "International Success". Oxford University Women's Lightweight Rowing Club. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Race schedule". The Henley Boat Races. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  26. ^ Cambridge Lwt Rowing [@CULRC] (13 March 2016). "Well done to Plummer, Green, Xu and Heames racing the 4x today! Official verdict 1 & 1/4 lengths. @HenleyBoatRaces" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ http://www.ourcs.org.uk/rules/a#A4
  28. ^ "The Light Blue men's and women's Lightweight crews race Oxford from Phyllis Court to Temple Island this spring". Cambridge University Alumni Events. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  29. ^ "The Boat Race Lite". Hear The Boat Sing. 23 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Henley Boat Races 2007". CUWBC. 2 April 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  31. ^ OULRC [@OULightweights] (19 March 2017). "Final result for today's reserve race: Nephthys beat Granta by 1/2 Length #HenleyBoatRaces #LightweightBoatRace" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]