Boat Race moves to Ely

2021 Oxford Cambridge Boat Races

2 minute read
Words Benedict Tufnell
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 29.11.20

The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) announced Thursday that The Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge will be held on the Great Ouse at Ely in April 2021. The event will see the 166th Men’s and the 75th Women’s boat races.

BRCL say the decision to relocate the 2021 event reflects the challenge of planning a high-profile amateur event around continuing COVID related restrictions as well as uncertainty regarding the safety and navigation of Hammersmith Bridge.

BRCL is now working with local authorities to ensure a safe event for the local community, crews, and coaches, as well as the volunteers and contractors helping to stage the races.

BRCL encourage the millions of Boat Race fans to get involved at home, by enjoying the event on the BBC and respecting any restrictions that may be in place at the time. 

Dr George Gilbert, Chair of BRCL’s Race and Operations Committee said: “Everyone is facing significant challenges right now, especially students up and down the country.  Organising sport safely and responsibly is our highest priority and moving The Boat Race to Ely in 2021 enables the event to go ahead in a secure environment.   While we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators along the course, we will be inviting our communities and wider audience to get involved via our social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on the BBC.”

The Boat Race athletes have been training under strict COVID-19 guidelines laid down by British Rowing, University sports departments and the Government.  The crews enjoyed two months on the water before the November lockdown in England. The student athletes then began training at home on their rowing machines, committed to gaining their place in one of the crews to race in April 2021.

BRCL say they are “grateful for the support of our partners Wainwright Golden Beer, Chapel Down and the BBC to help us deliver The Boat Race in 2021.”

For more information about The Boat Race, visit