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The Boat Race 1914

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71st Boat Race
The 1914 Cambridge Boat Race crew by Christine Broom.jpg
The 1914 Cambridge Boat Race crew
Date28 March 1914 (1914-03-28)
Margin of victory4 and 1/2 lengths
Winning time20 minutes 23 seconds
Overall record
UmpireFrederick I. Pitman

The 71st Boat Race took place on 28 March 1914. Held annually, the Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames. Oxford went into the race as reigning champions, having won the previous year's race. In this year's race, umpired by former rower Frederick I. Pitman, Cambridge won by four-and-a-half lengths in a time of 20 minutes 23 seconds. The victory took the overall record to 39–31 in Oxford's favour. It would be the last race for six years following the outbreak of the First World War.


Robert Bourne coached Oxford.

The Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing competition between the University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the "Dark Blues")[1] and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the "Light Blues").[1] The race was first held in 1829, and since 1845 has taken place on the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course on the River Thames in southwest London.[2][3] The rivalry is a major point of honour between the two universities; it is followed throughout the United Kingdom and, as of 2015, broadcast worldwide.[4] Oxford went into the race as reigning champions, having won the 1913 race by three-quarters of a length,[5] and led overall with 39 victories to Cambridge's 30 (excluding the "dead heat" of 1877).[5][6]

Oxford's coaches were G. C. Bourne who had rowed for the university in the 1882 and 1883 races, his son Robert Bourne (who rowed four times from 1909 to 1912),[7] and Harcourt Gilbey Gold (Dark Blue president for the 1900 race and four-time Blue). Cambridge were coached by Stanley Bruce (who had rowed in the 1904 race).[8] For the eleventh year the umpire was old Etonian Frederick I. Pitman who rowed for Cambridge in the 1884, 1885 and 1886 races.[9]

According to author and former Oxford rower George Drinkwater, the Cambridge crew "rapidly developed into a crew which gave every promise of being quite sensationally fast."[10] Conversely, he noted that Oxford suffered "from a dearth of material" which, followed by constant changes in the crew order, resulted in a "merely eight good men in a boat — and nothing more".[11]


The Cambridge crew weighed an average of 12 st 9.25 lb (80.2 kg), 3.25 pounds (1.5 kg) per rower more than their opponents. The Oxford crew saw five participants return, including cox Henry Wells who was taking part in his fourth race. Cambridge's crew also included five participants with Boat Race experience, including Sidney Swann who was making his fourth appearance in the event.[12] Swann and Ewart Horsfall had both won gold medals in the men's eight at the 1912 Summer Olympics, rowing for Leander Club. They defeated New College in the final for whom Arthur Wiggins, Beaufort Burdekin and Frederick Pitman rowed.[13]

Seat Oxford
University of Cambridge coat of arms.svg
Name College Weight Name College Weight
Bow R. W. Fletcher Balliol 11 st 10.5 lb D. I. Day Lady Margaret Boat Club 11 st 6 lb
2 B. Burdekin New College 12 st 4 lb S. E. Swann (P) Trinity Hall 11 st 13 lb
3 H. K. Ward New College 12 st 9 lb P. C. Livingstone Sidney Sussex 13 st 7 lb
4 E. D. Horsfall Magdalen 12 st 7.5 lb J. A. Ritson 1st Trinity 13 st 7 lb
5 J. B. Kindersley Exeter 12 st 9.5 lb K. G. Garnett 1st Trinity 13 st 12 lb
6 A. F. R. Wiggins (P) New College 12 st 13 lb C. S. Clark Pembroke 13 st 1 lb
7 G. W. Titherington Queen's 12 st 10 lb C. E. V. Buxton 3rd Trinity 12 st 2.5 lb
Stroke F. A. H. Pitman New College 12 st 6 lb G. E. Tower 3rd Trinity 11 st 12 lb
Cox H. B. Wells Magdalen 8 st 8 lb L. E. Ridley Jesus 8 st 7 lb
(P) – boat club president[15]


The Championship Course along which the Boat Race is contested

Cambridge won the toss and elected to start from the Surrey station, handing the Middlesex side of the river to Oxford.[12] In bright sunshine, a light wind and smooth water, umpire Pitman started the race at 2:20 p.m. Although rating slower than Oxford, Cambridge took a lead and were three-quarters of a length ahead by Craven Steps. They extended their lead to a length and a quarter by the Mile Post and continued to pull away as they passed below Hammersmith Bridge.[11] According to Drinkwater, they took "things easy in the rough water" towards Barnes Bridge and went on to pass the finishing post four and a half lengths ahead,[11] in a time of 20 minutes 23 seconds.[12] It was Cambridge's first victory since the 1908 race and took the overall record in the event to 39–31 in Oxford's favour.[5] Drinkwater concluded that while "Oxford were a poor crew ... individually they had quite a lot of talent". By comparison, he noted that Cambridge "were a reasonably high-class crew ... but they lacked quickness".[11]

It was the last race until 1920, as a result of the outbreak of the First World War, and first time since 1853 that there was a break in the annual tradition.[5] During the conflict, at least 42 Blues were killed,[16] including five of the 1914 participants: Dennis Ivor Day, cox L. E. Ridley, John Andrew Ritson and Gordon Garnett of the Cambridge crew, and Reginald William Fletcher from the Oxford boat.[17]



  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  3. ^ "The Course". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Former Winnipegger in winning Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race crew". CBC News. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Boat Race – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Classic moments – the 1877 dead heat". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  7. ^ Burnell, p. 40
  8. ^ Burnell, pp. 110–111
  9. ^ Burnell, pp. 49, 108
  10. ^ Drinkwater, p. 131
  11. ^ a b c d Drinkwater, p. 132
  12. ^ a b c Ross, p. 230
  13. ^ "Rowing at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games: Men's Coxed Eights". Sports Reference. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  14. ^ Dodd, p. 321
  15. ^ Burnell, pp. 50–51
  16. ^ Drinkwater, pp. 133–134
  17. ^ Clark, Nick (6 April 2014). "The tragic fate of the 1914 boat race crews revealed". The Independent. Retrieved 29 January 2015.


  • Burnell, Richard (1979). One Hundred and Fifty Years of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Precision Press. ISBN 978-0-9500638-7-4.
  • Dodd, Christopher (1983). The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race. Stanley Paul. ISBN 0-09-151340-5.
  • Drinkwater, G. C.; Sanders, T. R. B. (1929). The University Boat Race – Official Centenary History. Cassell & Company, Ltd.
  • Ross, Gordon (1956). The Boat Race. The Sportmans Book Club. ISBN 978-0-333-42102-4.

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