Light Blues at the last Boat Race, held in 2019 on the ThamesWikimedia Commons

The men’s and women’s Blues crews are permitted from today (07/03) to return to training on the water in preparation for the Boat Races next month, a University spokesperson has detailed in a press release to Varsity.

This permission has been given by British Rowing to the Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) under the conditions of strict COVID guidelines, agreed with the UK government.

This return to in-person training follows restrictions which have been in place for the last two months under the third national lockdown.

On Saturday (06/03), British Rowing ruled that a limited number of men and women may now train “only for The Boat Race”, given that these athletes are already included in British Rowing’s sport exemption for Elite Development Pathway programmes announced last month (05/02).

Following the cancellation of the 2020 Boat Race, organisers of the event, The Boat Race Company Limited, took the decision in November last year to relocate the race to Ely and to do so without spectators.

The Blue Boat Races will take place on the Sunday 4th April, giving the boats exactly four weeks of full training to prepare.

While the Blue Boat Races are anticipated to go ahead, the Reserve Races have been postponed to later in the year, once inter-club competition is allowed to resume in line with British Rowing competition guidance.

CUBC women’s President Sophie Paine said: “CUBC athletes and coaches would like to thank everyone at British Rowing, the University and our partner organisations for the fantastic support we have received.” Co-President Callum Sullivan mirrored this sentiment, adding: “we’re grateful to be given the honour to compete in this extraordinary national sporting event.”

As always, the event will be televised live to the many millions of fans of the Boat Race. Fans are encouraged, therefore, to stick to guidelines, stay away from the Great Ouse and to watch the races on the BBC. The race has been shown on the BBC since 2010, when they regained the rights from ITV, who had broadcast the race between 2004 and 2010. The first televised Boat Race was in 1938.

The Boat Race is the most watched annual rowing event in the world. In 2016, it attracted 6.2 million viewers for the men’s race and 4.8 million for the women’s.

Last year’s Boat Race was one of the first sporting events to fall foul of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to its scheduling in early April.