Two of British sport’s biggest rivals go head-to-head once more in the 2014 edition of the University Boat Race on April 6, live on BBC One.
First raced in 1829, the Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world and this year sees the 160th contest between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Watched by thousands along the banks of the Tideway between Putney and Mortlake in London and by millions more on TV around the world, the Boat Race is one of the most unique sporting occasions on the calendar, and with two very strong squads of athletes again this year, expect to see another exciting renewal of this famous duel on the water.
Oxford took a comfortable victory in the 2013 race and have included three Olympians this time around in the crew for their title defence, including London 2012 bronze medallist Constantine Louloudis.
The defending champions are pinning their hopes on experience rather than brute force, with their crew conceding more than two kilograms per man to rivals Cambridge.
With the more experienced crew, Oxford look to be a threatening line-up. The two other Olympic medallists alongside Louloudis in the crew are President Malcolm Howard, who won gold for Canada at Beijing 2008 as well as silver at London 2012, New Zealander Storm Uru is both a World Champion and Olympic Bronze medallist from London 2012.
Karl Hudspith and Michael DiSanto have both rowed for Great Britain and the United States respectively at senior international level, while New Zealander Sam O’Connor was a junior world champion.
The Light Blues have height and weight on their side, which sees previous race statistics stack up in their favour.
Of the 68 races since the war, the heavier crew has won 57% of the contests; while the taller crew has won 60% of the races.
They are also the significantly younger outfit, at an average of almost 3 years per man younger than their Dark Blue rivals.
British cox Ian Middleton, despite being the youngest in the crew this year, has represented Great Britain on the international stage, coxing the GB Eight in the 2013 junior world championships.
On board is also a significant amount of Boat Race experience in the form of bowman Mike Thorp, who is in his fifth season having raced in the Blue boat twice and the Goldie reserve boat twice.
Both Oxford crews feature competitors from several different nationalities, with six nations in total represented between the two crews.
The 2014 Boat Race marks the end of the current BBC TV contract, though a further seven-year extension with the corporation was secured on the eve of the race, meaning the event will continue to be broadcast on BBC One until 2021.
From 2015 onwards, the Women’s Boat Race moves to the Tideway, where crews will compete on the same day and on the same course as the men’s race for the first time in history, with both races live on the BBC.
The Boat Race continues to hold an important place in the British sporting calendar and the 2014 edition looks set to be another close encounter.
BBC Sport will have every angle of the 160th Boat Race covered as it brings one of the most historic and iconic events in the world sporting calendar to free-to-air viewers.
Clare Balding anchors the BBC’s live coverage for the fifth successive year, which features more than hour of build-up to the race that starts at 5.55pm.
Starting at 4.30pm, BBC One’s two-hour programme will feature an eclectic mix of imaginatively crafted, creative and entertaining features to provide an insightful look into the mindset and personality of the crews; the obstacles they have faced over the past 12 months; and the challenges they have yet to overcome over the gruelling 4 1/4 mile stretch of water from Putney to Mortlake.
Balding will be joined an array of guests during the build-up to the race, including Sir Matthew Pinsent and London 2012 gold medallists Tom James, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, while roving reporter Helen Skelton will also interview some of the race’s significant figures.
Andrew Cotter leads the commentary team and will be joined by former Oxford rower and coach Daniel Topolski and former winning Cambridge president Wayne Pommen.
Over 20 land based cameras, satellite and communication relay stations and countless miles of cables along the route all combine to broadcast one of the most technically challenging
All of this, coupled with a helicopter camera, jib cameras, mini-cameras and a plethora of other innovative cameras, graphics, expert commentary and passionate analysis strives to capture the atmosphere and drama of the race itself.
Live commentary and coverage will also be available on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website.
As well as the UK, millions around the world from the Americas to Africa can also watch the race on BBC World News, which will join the main BBC One broadcast 25 minutes before the start.
BBC One’s Boat Race build-up will also include action from the last Sunday’s women’s race held at Henley, as well as the reserve race between the Isis and Goldie crews.
Whichever shade of blue is victorious, the BBC will capture every stroke of the drama that unfolds on the waters of the Thames from start to finish.
British Eurosport will also broadcast live coverage of the 160th University Boat Race from south west London.
The pan-European broadcaster will again take the BBC’s live broadcast feed for the race, starting 25 minutes before the race begins, with commentary provided by Simon Golding and Alex Partridge.
For further information about the 2014 BNY Mellon Boat Race, visit the official website.
Sunday 6th April
The 160th Boat Race – Race start: 17:55
LIVE: 4.30pm-6.35pm BBC One / 5.30pm-6.30pm British Eurosport