Oxford and Cambridge teams to compete in virtual charity Boat Race

MCH.London virtual boat race to raise funds for Power2Inspire

4 minute read
Words Benedict Tufnell
Cover photo Steve McArthur
Published 11.06.20

For the first time, on Saturday 13th June 2020, Olympic, Paralympic, World Championship and club rowers, representing teams from Oxford and Cambridge, will compete side by side in the MCH.London virtual boat race to raise funds for Power2Inspire, the charity that is focussed on inclusion through sport. 

Rowers including British world champion Oliver Cook, Rio Paralympic champion Grace Clough, Olympic triple gold medallist Pete Reed, Australian para-rower Renae Domaschenz and British Olympic gold medallist Tom Ransley, will all race from their homes across the world on indoor rowing machines. Renowned rowing TV commentators Garry Herbert and Martin Cross will be providing commentary of the event.

Photo Pete Reed (5) and Tom Ransley (2) last competing together in the GBR M8+ at Rio in 2016.
Credit Igor Meijer

The race will be available to watch online at Power2Inspire’s Give as You Live page at 3:00pm BST – with an option for viewers to donate to the charity.

The rowers will compete on ergometers, rowing a collective distance of 6,838km.  As they are rowing, all the scores from each crew are added together to create a combined boat score.  The first boat to cross the line will win the MCH.London virtual boat race.

The two teams, named Oxford and Cambridge, will be made up of eight rowers each, with able-bodied, disabled, lightweight and openweight participants. The rowers will be racing on ergometers in their homes across the world, with Jan Ole Ernst in Germany, Renae Domaschenz in Australia, Sophie Paine in the Bahamas, and the remaining team members in the UK.

Sophie Paine, representing Cambridge in the MCH.London virtual boat race said: “Being involved in this virtual boat race is something completely different and really enjoyable to be part of. Especially at a time when we can’t currently train or race with each other in real life. The power of inclusivity that the virtual event will bring is something we hope to experience in person soon, and encourage people of all abilities and backgrounds to get involved in sports.”

Photo Oliver Cook (Right) 2019 World Rowing Championships, Linz, Austria
Credit Benedict Tufnell

World Champion rower, Oliver Cook, representing Oxford in the MCH.London virtual boat race said: “The opportunity to compete with, and against, such skilled oarspeople, while also raising awareness of the need for more inclusivity in sports was something I couldn’t turn down. This virtual boat race is what we all need in times like these, and I hope the viewers at home enjoy it as much as we will, and if they can, donate to the great cause behind it.”

Responsible advertising agency MCH London is sponsoring the first virtual boat race to provide support to help raise funds for the development of Power2Inspire’s University PowerHouseGames. These games bring together university sports clubs with students from a state, independent and special needs schools to unite individuals of all abilities through sport.  

Event organiser and founder of Power2Inspire, John Willis, was born without fully formed limbs and spent much of his childhood being excluded from sports. He created Power2Inspire with the aim of ensuring his experience was not repeated, and is a longtime rowing fan and advocate of inclusivity in sport. Speaking ahead of the launch he said: “I was a cox at Cambridge, and beyond, and when I saw the success of the Power2Inspire Inclusive Festivals -– including badminton, hockey, tennis and golf – that we run,  I was determined to find a way to make a rowing event with the same philosophy, to encourage people of different abilities to participate together.”

The teams:


Donate to Oxford here.

Donate to Cambridge here.