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The Boat Race 1958

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104th Boat Race
Date 5 April 1958
Winner Cambridge
Margin of victory 3 and 1/2 lengths
Winning time 18 minutes 15 seconds
Overall record
Umpire Kenneth Payne

The 104th Boat Race took place on 5 April 1958. Held annually, the Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames. The race was umpired by former Cambridge rower Kenneth Payne and featured the first cox to follow his father in steering one of the boats. The reigning champions Cambridge won by three-and-a-half lengths in a time of 18 minutes 15 seconds, the third-fastest winning time in history, and took the overall record to 58–45 in their favour.


The Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing competition between the University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the "Dark Blues")[1] and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the "Light Blues").[1] First held in 1829, the race takes place on the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course on the River Thames in southwest London.[2] The rivalry is a major point of honour between the two universities and followed throughout the United Kingdom and broadcast worldwide.[3][4] Cambridge went into the race as reigning champions, having won the 1957 race by two lengths,[5] and led overall with 57 victories to Oxford's 45 (excluding the "dead heat" of 1877).[6]

Cambridge were coached by J. R. F. Best, James Crowden (who rowed twice for Cambridge, in the 1951 and 1952 races), Brian Lloyd (a three-time Blue, rowing in the 1949, 1950 and 1951 races), J. R. Owen (who rowed in the 1959 and 1960 races) and Harold Rickett (three-time Blue between 1930 and 1932). Oxford's coaches were Hugh "Jumbo" Edwards (who rowed for Oxford in the 1926 and 1930 races), J. H. Page, C. F. Porter and L. A. F. Stokes (who rowed in the 1951 and 1952 races.[7] The race was umpired for the sixth time by the former British Olympian Kenneth Payne, who had rowed for Cambridge in the 1932 and 1934 races.[8][9]

In the buildup to the race, Cambridge's P. D. Rickett was struck down by influenza for a week and was unable to train.[10]


The Cambridge crew weighed an average of 13 stlb (83.7 kg), 3 pounds (1.4 kg) per rower more than their opponents. Oxford's crew had two rowers with Boat Race experience, including stroke G. Sorrell (who was rowing in his third race) and number four S. F. A. Miskin. Cambridge saw a single participant return in number three J. A. Pitchford.[11] Two of the participants in the race were registered as non-British. Oxford's number six, Rodd Rubin, hailed from America while Cambridge's number five R. B. Ritchie was Australian.[12]

Cambridge's James Sulley became the first cox to follow in his father's footsteps: A. L. "Jimmy" Sulley steered the Light Blues in the 1928 race.[13] Peter Rickett, the Light Blues' number six, also followed his father (and coach for this year) Harold, while R. B. Ritchie's father A. B. Ritchie and R. D. Carver's father H. R. Carver also rowed for Cambridge, in the 1922 and 1925 races respectively.[13] Oxford's stroke, David Edwards was the son of Hugh "Jumbo" Edwards who rowed in the 1930 race while P. D. Rickett's father and coach Harold rowed in three races for Cambridge, from 1930 to 1932.[13]

Seat Oxford
University of Cambridge coat of arms.svg
Name College Weight Name College Weight
Bow G. Sorrell (P) Christ Church 11 st 13 lb A. T. Denby Magdalene 12 st 4 lb
2 M. J. W. Hall Lincoln 12 st 5 lb J. R. Giles Emmanuel 12 st 7 lb
3 J. H. Ducker St Edmund Hall 12 st 13 lb J. A. Pitchford (P) Christ's 13 st 10 lb
4 S. F. A. Miskin University 12 st 3 lb R. D. Carver 1st & 3rd Trinity 13 st 3 lb
5 F. D. M. Badcock Christ Church 13 st 3 lb R. B. Ritchie Corpus Christi 14 st 2 lb
6 R. Rubin Merton 14 st 8 lb P. D. Rickett 1st & 3rd Trinity 13 st 6 lb
7 J. L. Fage St Edmund Hall 12 st 13 lb D. C. Christie Pembroke 13 st 12 lb
Stroke D. C. R. Edwards Christ Church 13 st 2 lb M. B. Maltby Pembroke 12 st 9 lb
Cox J. G. Rowbotham Hertford 9 st 0 lb J. S. Sulley Selwyn 8 st 8 lb
(P) – boat club president[15]


The Championship Course along which the Boat Race is contested

Cambridge, who went into the race as favourites,[16][17] won the toss and elected to start from the Surrey station, handing the Middlesex side of the river to Oxford. In conditions described in The Times as "wretched" with fog and rain, the race started at 1:30 p.m.[18] Although Oxford out-rated Cambridge, the Light Blues' length of stroke saw them hold a three-quarter length lead after the first minute. Continuing to pull away, Cambridge were clear by Beverley Brook,[13] half a length clear by the time the crews passed Craven Steps and increased this to a length-and-a-half by the Mile Post.[18]

A spurt from Oxford at the Crab Tree pub made no impression on the lead. Oxford were still out-rating by Cambridge three strokes per minute as they passed below Hammersmith Bridge, two lengths adrift of the Light Blues. By Chiswick Steps, the lead was three lengths where Cambridge saw off another spurt, with Oxford now rowing six strokes per minute faster than their opponents. Able to relax, Cambridge passed the finishing post three and a half lengths clear of Oxford in a time of 18 minutes 15 seconds, the third fastest winning time in the event's history.[18] It was Cambridge's fourth consecutive victory and the fastest winning time since the 1948 race.[5] A correspondent writing in The Times described the victory as a "great success" and attributed the win to Cambridge's "uniformity, precision, and properly covered blades ... not to the brilliance of any individuals in the boat."[18] Jack Beresford, writing in The Observer, suggested that Cambridge's crew was "as good as any since the war" but that while Oxford "rowed gallantly and never gave up", their technique was inadequate.[13]



  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Former Winnipegger in winning Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race crew". CBC News. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "TV and radio". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Boat Race – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Classic moments – the 1877 dead heat". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Burnell, pp. 110–111
  8. ^ Burnell, pp. 49, 74
  9. ^ "Kenneth Payne Bio, Stats, and Results". Sports Reference. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Rickett returns to Cambridge crew". The Manchester Guardian. 1 April 1958. p. 3. 
  11. ^ Burnell, p. 79
  12. ^ Burnell, p. 39
  13. ^ a b c d e Beresford, Jack (6 April 1958). "This crew should row for England". The Observer. p. 20. 
  14. ^ Dodd, p. 337
  15. ^ Burnell, pp. 50, 52
  16. ^ "Can Cambridge's measured stride be shaken?". The Guardian. 5 April 1958. p. 6. 
  17. ^ "Cambridge favourites on consistent form". The Times (54117). 5 April 1958. p. 10. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Cambridge lead all the way in Boat Race". The Times (54418). 7 April 1958. p. 3. 


  • Burnell, Richard (1979). One Hundred and Fifty Years of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Precision Press. ISBN 0950063878. 
  • Dodd, Christopher (1983). The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race. Stanley Paul. ISBN 0091513405. 

External links

  • Official website
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