Big Crowds Expected For Boat Race

RNLI expects to be twice as busy as normal

Related links

Pic-RNLI - Alternative Boat Race model on the River Thames near to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Visit to find out more.

Sign up for email newsletters from,,,,,,, and

With roughly 250,000 people expected to line the banks of the River Thames this Sunday, April 6th, the RNLI will be on duty to ensure everyone stays safe along the course between Putney and Mortlake. This year marks the 160th Boat Race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

The Boat Race Company Ltd has announced that the time of The 2014 BNY Mellon Boat Race will be changing to 5:55pm on Sunday 6th April, five minutes earlier than the originally scheduled time of 6pm. This means that the Reserve Race will also be five minutes earlier at 5:25pm.

This time change is necessary due to scheduling conflicts for the BBC who are the Official Broadcast Partners.

Those wishing to watch the ending at Chiswick Bridge (where TfL have promised to take down the works barriers in advance of the Race) bear in mind that the race ends quite a short time after the start- the record is held by Cambridge (1998), at 16mins 19secs. Book your vantage place in good time.

This year to raise awareness of the work that RNLI crews do with the rowing community, the charity is hosting an Alternative Boat Race on the River Thames near Kew at 3pm on Sunday 6 April. Before the Blues battle it out on 6 April, 250 model lifeboats will race along the tideway just upriver of the official Boat Race finish line in the RNLI’s Alternative Boat Race.

Providing safety cover for the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race from three London Lifeboat stations Chiswick, Tower and Teddington, the RNLI is typically twice as busy as normal on Boat Race day.

Wayne Bellamy, Station Manager of Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station, said: ‘The BNY Mellon Boat Race is a fantastic event and it is always great to see so many people enjoying themselves by the river. ‘It is definitely one of the busiest days of the year for the RNLI’s London lifeboats. While we will be there to provide assistance on the day to anyone who needs it, we do advise visitors to stay safe by the river where the current moves very fast and people can easily and quickly get into difficulties.’

First raced in 1829, The Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. Cambridge lead the series with 81 victories to Oxford's 77, with one dead-heat in 1877.The race is rowed upstream, but is timed to start on the incoming flood tide, usually an hour before high tide, so that the crews are rowing with the fastest possible current. The Boat Race course, known as the Championship Course is 4 miles, 374 yards or 6.8 Km long.


In advance of the event, the lifeboats charity has offered few tips for an enjoyable day by the river:
• Avoid standing directly on the foreshore as tides can rise very rapidly
• Arrive early and find a viewpoint that is behind a safety barrier
• Don’t take to the water in any inflatable or manpowered craft
• If you’ll be enjoying a drink on the day, don’t forget ‘alcohol and water don’t mix’

The RNLI works closely with the rowing community to ensure safety at rowing events such as the BNY Mellon Boat Race and other big events on the tidal Thames, such as the Head of the River Race.

April 2, 2014