Saturday, April 11, 2015

Quick Q&A for Americans who might be confused about the Boat Race:

So this is like the final of rowing for British universities, right?

Nope, the BUCS (British equivalent of NCAA) regatta is at the start of May.

Oh. But Oxford and Cambridge win that as well surely?

No again. The current champions are London, before that Durham won it for ten years in a row.

So Oxford and Cambridge aren't the top two for rowing?

They came in 9th and 12th at last year's regatta.

Okay, I'm confused. Why is all the fuss in the media about this race and not the national championship?

Because it has been going on a long time, and it's between Oxford and Cambridge. If we still ran America, March Madness would be ignored and all the coverage would be on a single game between Harvard and Yale.

Is that the only reason people watch it?
No, the main reason is that everyone hopes one of the boats will sink.

Is that likely?

There's a whole subsection on the Wikipedia page on 'sinkings'. The best was 1912, when both crews managed to sink. Last week, the Oxford women's crew had to be rescued by a lifeboat when they started sinking while training, unfortunately they didn't manage to repeat the performance during the race.

That sounds exciting!
Exactly. And there's always the chance of a mutiny, or protesters.

Hang on. A mutiny? With hangings from the yardarms and the like?

Not quite. But there is a film (from 1996) about one of the mutinies. It's not Mutiny on the Bounty though.

I see why people are excited now!

Good. Happy to help.

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