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The Boat Race 1972

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118th Boat Race
Date 1 April 1972
Winner Cambridge
Margin of victory 9 and 1/2 lengths
Winning time 18 minutes 36 seconds
Overall record
Umpire P. S. Carpmael
Other races
Reserve winner Goldie
Women's winner Cambridge

The 118th Boat Race took place on 1 April 1972. Held annually, the Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) tidal stretch of the River Thames in south-west London. Umpired by former Cambridge Blue Philip Carpmael, the race was won by Cambridge, who passed the finishing post nine-and-a-half lengths ahead of Oxford in a time of 18 minutes and 36 seconds, their fifth consecutive victory. The win took the overall record since 1829 to 66–51 in favour of Cambridge.

The race was variously described as an "anti-climax" and "a bore" given the ease with which Cambridge secured the win. Their crew was the heaviest in Boat Race history and included siblings for the first time since 1935. In the reserve race, Cambridge's Goldie beat Oxford's Isis, and in the Women's Boat Race, Cambridge were victorious.


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; it is followed throughout the United Kingdom and broadcast worldwide.[3][4] Cambridge went into the race as reigning champions, having beaten Oxford by ten lengths in the previous year's race. Cambridge also held the overall lead with 65 victories to Oxford's 51 (excluding the "dead heat" of 1877).[5][6]

The first Women's Boat Race took place in 1927, but did not become an annual fixture until the 1960s. Up until 2014, the contest was conducted as part of the Henley Boat Races, but as of the 2015 race, it is held on the River Thames, on the same day as the men's main and reserve races.[7] The reserve race, contested between Oxford's Isis boat and Cambridge's Goldie boat has been held since 1965. It usually takes place on the Tideway, prior to the main Boat Race.[6]

Oxford were coached by Dick Fishlock who had coxed Great Britain in the men's eight in the 1960 Summer Olympics.[8][9] He was assisted by John Langfield, John Peake, Peter Reynolds (who had coxed for the Dark Blues in the 1960 and 1961 races) and Peter Sutherland.[10] Cambridge were being coached by Lou Barry for the fifth consecutive year, along with James Crowden (who had rowed for the Light Blues in the 1951 and 1952 races), David Jennens (who had represented the Cantabrigians three times between 1949 and the 1951 race, Donald Legget (who rowed in the 1963 and 1964 races, Mike Sweeney (who rowed in the 1965 and 1966 races) and Robin Winckless (who rowed in the 1967, 1968 and 1969 races).[10][11][12] The umpire for the race was Philip Carpmael who had rowed for Cambridge in the 1930 and 1931 races.[13][14]

Writing in The Times, Jim Railton suggested that Cambridge looked "invincible" before their arrival at the Thames, and former Oxford Blue and author Dickie Burnell suggested that the Light Blues were "reckoned to be unbeatable".[15] However, Oxford rowed a number of record practice times, while Cambridge met with several "disasters" (including catching some "mammoth crabs" and experiencing outings "spoilt by shipwrecks").[12]


The Cambridge crew weighed 8.5 pounds (3.9 kg) per rower more than their opponents, averaging just over 13 st 11 lb (75.6 kg), making them the heaviest crew in the history of the race.[12] Both boats contained four Blues; Oxford saw Keith Bolshaw, D. d'A Willis, Andrew Hall and J. Hawkesley return, while Cambridge's crew included Chris Baillieu (whose grandfather had rowed in the 1913 race),[16] Neil James, David Maxwell and Graham Hughes.[17] American Olympic rower Gardiner Cadwalader (who finished fifth in the men's coxed four in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico)[18] along with four British Olympic team candidates (Maxwell, Bailieu, Michael Hart and James)[19] brought experience to the Light Blue boat.[12] Cambridge's crew also contained brothers Michael and James Hart, the first time a pair of siblings had rowed for Cambridge since the Kingsford's in the 1935 race.[20][21] Along with Cadwalader, Oxford cox Fred Yalouris was American, while the Dark Blue bow Michael Magarey was Australian; all the other participants were British.[22]

Seat Oxford
University of Cambridge coat of arms.svg
Name College Weight Name College Weight
Bow M. A. Magerery Magdalen 13 st 8 lb R. J. S. Clarke St Catharine's 13 st 1 lb
2 K. Bolshaw Christ Church 12 st 11 lb C. L. Baillieu Jesus 13 st 13 lb
3 D. R. d'A Willis St Peter's 14 st 12 lb S. G. I. Kerruish Fitzwilliam 12 st 10 lb
4 A. J. Hall (P) Corpus Christi 15 st 13 lb J. A. Hart Fitzwilliam 13 st 5 lb
5 D. R. Payne Balliol 12 st 10 lb N. W. James Jesus 14 st 0 lb
6 J. P. W. Hawksley Balliol 12 st 12 lb G. A. Cadwalader Lady Margaret Boat Club 14 st 10 lb
7 Hon. P. D. E. M. Moncreiffe Christ Church 11 st 6 lb M. J. Hart Peterhouse 14 st 2 lb
Stroke M. G. C. T. Baines Keble 12 st 3 lb D. L. Maxwell Jesus 14 st 6 lb
Cox E. Yalouris Merton 8 st 12 lb N. G. Hughes (P) Queens' 9 st 1 lb
(P) – Boat club president[12][24]


The Championship Course along which the Boat Race is contested

Cambridge were pre-race favourites.[12] Oxford won the toss and elected to start from the Surrey station, from which the previous ten winning crews had commenced, handing the Middlesex side of the river to the Light Blues.[13] At the scheduled start time of 3:15 p.m., Cambridge were still practising downstream and hence the event was delayed.[13] Fishlock remarked that he believed this to be "plain bad manners".[8] Within a minute of the start, Cambridge held a lead of a canvas length and despite reducing their stroke rate, they continued to pull away from Oxford.[13] At the Mile Post, the lead was seven seconds,[15] and at Hammersmith Bridge the Light Blues held a lead of three lengths; they extended this to 21 seconds by Chiswick Steps, and 24 seconds by Barnes Bridge. By the finishing post, Cambridge were 34 seconds ahead, recording a nine-and-a-half length victory in a time of 18 minutes 36 seconds.[13] Oxford's stroke, Mike Baines, collapsed at the end of the race.[13] Railton wrote that "the race was once again an anti-climax, painful to watch, with a merciful release as Oxford crawled past the timber post marking the race finish."[24] The Guardian report Mike Rodda described the race as "a bore".[8]

In the tenth edition of the reserve race, Cambridge's Goldie beat Oxford's Isis by two-and-a-half lengths in a time of 19 minutes and 19 seconds, their sixth consecutive victory which made the overall record 6–2.[6] In the 27th running of the Women's Boat Race, Cambridge triumphed, their tenth consecutive victory, and their fifteenth in eighteen years taking the overall record to 17–10 in their favour.[6]



  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Former Winnipegger in winning Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race crew". CBC News. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "TV and radio". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Classic moments – the 1877 dead heat". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Men – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "A brief history of the Women's Boat Race". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Rodda, John (3 April 1972). "Lightweight thinking loses". The Guardian. p. 15. 
  9. ^ Rodda, John (1 April 1972). "Cambridge possess stern power". The Guardian. p. 18. 
  10. ^ a b Burnell, pp. 110–111
  11. ^ Dodd, Christopher (19 March 1971). "Lou Barry – mind and method of a master coach". The Guardian. p. 27. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Railton, Jim (1 April 1972). "Cambridge still favourites". The Times (58441). p. 4. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Purfleet, Roger (2 April 1972). "The old Oxford blues". The Observer. p. 20. 
  14. ^ Burnell, p. 73
  15. ^ a b Burnell, p. 28
  16. ^ Burnell, p. 41
  17. ^ Railton, Jim (29 March 1972). "Cambridge are 'psyched out' by Oxford". The Times (58439). p. 10. 
  18. ^ "Cadwalader Sr, Gardiner". World Rowing. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  19. ^ Railton, Jim (28 March 1972). "Cambridge stroke may not be available for Britain". The Times (58438). p. 12. 
  20. ^ Burnell, p. 42
  21. ^ "Fitzwilliam in the Boat Race". Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  22. ^ Burnell, p. 39
  23. ^ Dodd, p. 344
  24. ^ a b Railton, Jim (3 April 1972). "Westward Ho! for Oxford". The Times (58442). p. 11. 


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