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The Boat Race 1985

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131st Boat Race
Date 6 April 1985
Winner Oxford
Margin of victory 4 and 3/4 lengths
Winning time 17 minutes 11 seconds
Overall record
Umpire Ronnie Howard
Other races
Reserve winner Isis
Women's winner Oxford

The 131st Boat Race took place on 6 April 1985. Held annually, the event is a side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames. Oxford won by four-and-three-quarter lengths. Bruce Philp became the first man to row for both universities having previously rowed for Cambridge, and Henrietta Shaw became the first female cox for Cambridge.

Isis won the reserve race, while Oxford were victorious in the Women's Boat Race.


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] Oxford went into the race as reigning champions, having beaten Cambridge by three-and-a-quarter lengths in the previous year's race. However Cambridge held the overall lead, with 68 victories to Oxford's 61 (excluding the "dead heat" of 1877).[5] The race was sponsored by Ladbrokes for the ninth consecutive year.[6]

The first Women's Boat Race took place in 1927, but did not become an annual fixture until the 1960s. 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.[8]


Oxford were pre-race favourites, and weighed an average of 4 pounds (1.8 kg) per rower more than their opponents.[6] Oxford's crew contained four former Blues while Cambridge featured three.[6] Bruce Philp became the first man to row for both universities, having represented Cambridge in the 1982 and 1983 races.[9][10] Henrietta Shaw became the first woman to cox the Cambridge boat.[9]

John Garrett (pictured in 2018) rowed at number 7 for Cambridge.
Seat Oxford
University of Cambridge coat of arms.svg
Name College Weight Name College Weight
Bow G J Cartledge New College 13 st 6 lb J S Witter St Catharine's 12 st 11 lb
2 C L Richmond Christ Church 12 st 1 lb A L Pasternak Magdalene 13 st 0 lb
3 B M Philp Worcester 15 st 0 lb J D Hughes Downing 13 st 10 lb
4 A M S Thomas Pembroke 13 st 1 lb P M Broughton Magdalene 14 st 7 lb
5 P M Hare Balliol 15 st 3 lb S M Peel Downing 14 st 5 lb
6 G R D Jones New College 14 st 1 lb G A Barnard Robinson 13 st 2 lb
7 W J Lang Magdalen 14 st 3 lb J L Garrett Lady Margaret Boat Club 14 st 8 lb
Stroke F M Reininger Magdalen 14 st 6 lb J M Pritchard Robinson 13 st 2 lb
Cox S R Lesser Magdalen 8 st 4 lb H L Shaw Lady Margaret Boat Club 6 st 2 lb


The Championship Course along which the Boat Race is run

Cambridge won the toss and elected to start from the Surrey station. A quick start from Cambridge coupled with a poor one from Oxford saw the Light Blues take a third of a length lead before being reined back at Fulham Football Club. A one-second lead at the mile post preceded a period of warnings from umpire Ronnie Howard to both coxes as they contested the same water.[11] Oxford held a canvas' lead as the crews passed under Hammersmith Bridge and began to move away along Chiswick Eyot. A ten-second lead at Barnes Bridge became a thirteen-second lead at the finishing post, as Oxford took the win by four and three-quarter lengths in a time of 17 minutes 11 seconds.[11] This was Oxford's tenth consecutive victory, and their eleventh in twelve years, and took the overall record to 68–62 in favour of Cambridge.[8]

In the reserve race, Oxford's Isis beat Cambridge's Goldie by six lengths, while Oxford won the 40th Women's Boat Race.[8]


Cambridge stroke John Pritchard said "I tried everything. But at the vital moment, the boat went heavy."[11] His Oxford counterpart Francis Reininger said "I was always optimistic that the power was there waiting to be switched on. When I asked for it, it glowed."[11] Oxford coach Dan Topolski suggested that being given the Middlesex station was to their advantage, "I was glad to have Middlesex because in training our first three minutes had always been relatively poor."[12]


  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Former Winnipegger in winning Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race crew". CBC News. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 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. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Railton, Jim; Barnes, Simon (6 April 1985). "Boat Race interest stimulated by a clash of style and contrasting motivation". The Times (62105). p. 30.
  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 "Boat Race – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Rival rowers". Rome News-Tribune. 7 March 1985. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Cambridge hopes Canadian coach can help it out-row Oxford". The Montreal Gazette. 20 February 1985. p. 83.
  11. ^ a b c d Railton, Jim (8 April 1985). "Oxford's aggression steers them to a place in history". The Times (62106). p. 13.
  12. ^ Miller, David. "Topolski's method masters the fears". The Times (62106). p. 13.

External links

  • Official website
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