Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Boat Race

Yesterday was the Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames in London. Apparently it is a huge British tradition, known most commonly as "The Boat Race', and has been going on since 1829. It was only a few stops away from us on the tube, so I went with Katie, Paige, Renata, Shea, Lindsey, Joe and Alex, to get to experience some real British culture. The tube was literally jam packed, with people heading both to the race and to a Chelsea game, both in the same general direction, aka all on the same tube line. Our stop wasn't too far away however, so it wasn't an awful ride. When we got off we simply followed to mass of people all heading to the river, and ended up being led where we had wanted to go. 

The best way I can describe the atmosphere was like a classier version of a college gameday tailgate. Most guys were dressed in Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, or their Oxford or Cambridge jackets and polos, and girls were on the same level, all very put together. Pubs line the river, and each has tents set up outside to get beer, cider or Pimms (an "English style" lemonade that is gin based), which is all served on tap. Although it isn't legal to drink on the streets in London like it once was, that rule clearly isn't followed on the day of The Boat Race, and of course we followed suit, splitting a jug of Pimms and then sending Joe to a convenience store to buy inexpensive flavored cider and beer. Apparently everyone else had similar plans because it took him about half an hour to buy it since the line was wrapped around the building. 

Katie, Renata, myself, Paige and Shea looking over the Thames before the race!
We were right at the start of the race and got to see about a total of 2 seconds of the race ourselves, while the rest was displayed on a huge screen on the other side of the river. Apparently this years race was fairly controversial. It had to be stopped when a protestor swam in river and disrupted Oxford's boat. It's the first time that the race was ever stopped and restarted for a swimmer. Then at the end, there was apparently a clash of oars and Oxford ending up losing one of their oars all together, basically given Cambridge an extra rower. Clearly Cambridge ended up winning, and although there was a protest, it apparently was ignored, and Cambridge officially won. 

After the race was over (which lasted a lot longer than it was supposed to because of the swimmer) we headed to the street, grabbed some lunch and went to a pub nearby. Overall, it was a very successful day of boat racing, day drinking, and spending time with well dressed people from Oxford and Cambridge.

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