For the First Time in Over a Century, the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race Includes Women in the Main Event
The famous Oxford and Cambridge boat race has finally given women equal water. In the past, women have competed a week before the men, with little fanfare. This year, the women and men’s boat races were held on the same day as Oxford and Cambridge went head to head--over 250,000 people watched from the banks of the Thames, marking the start of England's spring social season. Oxford University won both races against Cambridge.
The women’s edition dates back to 1927 and finally received equal billing and funding thanks to sponsorship by Newton Asset Management, Bloomberg reports. Before Saturday’s race, Oxford coach Christine Wilson stated, “Women have been absent. What’s happening here in 2015 is really just allowing this particular sporting event to catch up.”
Wilson was a former assistant coach to the U.S. Women’s Olympic team and former head coach of women’s rowing at Yale and Cornell universities. She also reflected how other competitions, such as the Olympics, include both men and women under one event. The legendary Oxbridge race should be the same.
The 4.2-mile race on the Thames marked the Oxford women’s crew's seventh victory in the past eight years over Cambridge. The Oxford women took a boat-length lead within two minutes and were able to maintain that lead throughout the race. Oxford’s stroke and two-time U.S. Olympic rowing champion, Caryn Davies, mentioned that the winning on the Tideway is even more difficult than claiming Olympic gold because the race is triple the length.
Anastasia Chitty, President of the Oxford University women's boat club, spoke to the momentous nature of Saturday's race: “There were so many women who have not had this opportunity. It’s really humbling that we are at Oxford at the right time.”