It was very exciting to watch the race - particularly with my phone blowing up as the video virtual boat race | giveasyoulive

Saturday June 13th saw Cambridge triumph over Oxford in the Virtual Inclusive Boat Race. Raising money for John Willis’s Power2Inspire, the event was established to highlight and promote the charity’s mission of championing inclusion in sport.

Initially devised before the pandemic, the event was adapted so it could continue in these unexpected conditions, with crew members taking part in their homes across the world, from The Bahamas to Germany, and from Australia to the UK, connected over the Internet.

"It was so fantastic to see inclusive sport promoted so heavily..."

There was a very exciting line-up for the race, with the crews including Paralympic and four-time World Champion Grace Clough and World Champion Oliver Cook, alongside Rio 2016 and World Champion Tom Ransley, and three-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and five-time World Champion, Pete Reed.

The BBC’s Garry Herbert and Martin Cross, 1992 and 1984 Olympic Champions respectively, commentated on the race, which can be re-watched here.

Each team has smashed their £5,000 fundraising target, with Oxford raising £6,320.00 and Cambridge, earning victory in this respect, too, amassing £9,875.00 at time of writing (you can still donate here).

The money will support Power2Inspire’s many efforts and events to increase inclusivity in sport, and in particular will go towards their PowerHouse Games, which bring together diverse school and university students.

Each crew collectively rowed 6.8km, the length of the Boat Race course on the Thames. Cambridge established a strong lead from (the point equivalent to) Hammersmith Bridge and kept it to the finish, and in the end beat Oxford by 2.5 seconds (approximately 0.8 lengths if the boats are aggregated).

This marks, if in a virtual way, the Light Blues’ third consecutive victory in the men’s race and fourth consecutive victory in the women’s. The quickest individuals were the two captains, with Cook (Oxford) the fastest man, and Sophie Paine (Cambridge) the fastest woman.

Commenting on social media afterwards, Clough celebrated how the race ‘was such great fun to be part of’. Reed, congratulating Cambridge and thanking his Oxford team and, emphasized how ‘the real winners are @power2inspireuk and inclusive sport’, excitingly expressing the desire for a potential rematch next year.

"It hopefully has offered a great platform for further inclusive sporting events..."

Speaking to Varsity, Willis highlighted how Reed’s participation encapsulated the ethos of the race, and said: ‘I was so pleased with the event, and thought it was a fantastic success. It was so fantastic to see inclusive sport promoted so heavily, both through the media on the BBC and in The Times, and by the 270 people who donated to support the race…It was very exciting to watch the race - particularly with my phone blowing up as the video unfolded.’


Mountain View

Interview With Virtual Inclusive Boat Race Organisers

Luke Cavanaugh, co-founder of LCAP Consulting and fellow organiser of the event, echoed Willis’s happiness both with how the race proceeded and with the wider spotlight on inclusivity that the event provided:

‘I was so impressed with the quality of the finished product, and the attention that the race got. We even had coverage from newspapers in The Bahamas! It hopefully has offered a great platform for further inclusive sporting events, whether connected to the university and rowing or not.’

The full teams were:

Oxford: Amelia Standing, Pete Reed, Grace Clough, Oliver Cook, Jan Ole Ernst, Martha Birtles, Alex Bebb and Amy Hosking

Cambridge: Jan Helmich, Freddie Markanday, Sophie Paine, Pippa Whittaker, Renae Domaschenz, Tom Ransley, Miranda Clements and Ollie Parish

For more information about the founders, crews, mission and origins of the race, see Varsity’s interview with the organisers here, published in the run-up to the event.