Boat Race 2020 cancelled

Boat Race 2020 cancelled

  • Boat Race 'where greatness meets' graphic

The openweight races due to take place on 29 March have been cancelled. But earlier this month, in the first lightweight races on the Tideway, Cambridge's women triumphed.

The Boat Race announced on Monday 16 March that the races due to take place on the Tideway later this month have been cancelled. A statement posted online said: 'As a result of the current situation with COVID-19, The Boat Race on 29th March has been cancelled. This decision is based entirely on our concern for the welfare of our crews, our spectators, our staff and volunteers.'

Robert Gillespie, Chairman of The Boat Race Company Limited, said: “Given the unprecedented situation our country and each of us as individuals faces, the public good far outweighs all other considerations. Cancellation of The Boat Race is therefore clearly the correct decision, but it is not without sad consequence. Our thoughts are very much with the athletes who have worked so hard and made immense sacrifices to represent their University and are now unable to do so.

"To cancel is not an easy decision and we realise this news will undoubtedly disappoint all those who look forward to the Race each year – whether watching on the riverbanks, on TV or online."


Both Cambridge boat clubs posted online about the cancellation. A post on Cambridge University Boat Club's website read: 'This is bitter news for the entire CUBC Squad and our Coaching & Support team who, since September 2019, have had the single aim of winning the Boat Race on 29 March 2020.

'The loss of the athletes’ opportunity to validate their 2020 Boat Race Campaign in the time-honoured manner has a huge impact on the athletes and Coaches as it has on their opposition at Oxford, but we are mindful that the situation that the UK faces is unprecedented ... Further communications will follow, but for now, our common concern is that all students, members, families and supporters remain healthy.'

Cambridge University Women's Boat Club posted on its Facebook page: 'We’re incredibly disappointed not to be racing on 29th March. We dedicate so much of our time and energy to this team, and it’s absolutely gutting not to be able to lay it all on the line against our Dark Blue counterparts. However, we know that the Boat Race isn’t really about the spectacle or even the outcome. Every day, we get the opportunity to represent Cambridge in our academics and on the water, and drive forward the legacy of the women who have come before us.

'The trialling process is about hard work, resilience, and being part of something greater than ourselves. The current health crisis encourages us to take these tenets and apply them outside of rowing as citizens of the world.'

Cambridge women triumph in first lightweight races on the Tideway

In the first year that the lightweight crews have raced the championship course on the Tideway Cambridge's lightweight women came in ahead of Oxford's crew by six lengths (21 seconds) to win the 2020 lightweight women’s boat race on Sunday 15 March. The fixture was umpired by alumna Clare Briegal (Murray Edwards College, formerly New Hall).

2020 Lightweight Boat Races, proudly supported by interactive investor

Captain Catherine Walker (Gonville and Caius) said: “Sunday’s victory reflects seven months of hard work from both the squad and coaches. Going from down a length under Hammersmith to a six-length victory demonstrates the grit and determination of the lightweight women. We’d like to thank OUWLRC for an exhilarating race, which has set up an exciting future for the race on the Tideway. We’d also like to thank all those who worked so hard to make the move possible and helped us write history in light blue”.

Read CUWBC's race report >

Cambridge's lightweight men came in 3.5 lengths (11 seconds) behind their Oxford counterparts, marking a second victory in a row for the Dark Blues in the lightweight men's fixture.

Prior to 2020, the lightweight races and other fixtures took place at Henley-on-Thames.