Monday, April 03, 2006

The 'Boat Race'

We headed down to the Thames today to watch the famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, held every year not far from our place between Putney Bridge and Mortlake. We missed it last year as we were back in Australia on the Strernberg/Dioth wedding trip, so we rallied the troops to try and make a day of it.

Despite an amazing clear start to the day, the weather turned to rubbish by the time the first of our friends arrived at our place for some warm-up drinks on the roof. With continuous passing showers and squalls, we were forced to don coats to keep out the chill, and as the clouds rolled over from Heathrow dash back down the ladder and inside while it shedded down for 10 minutes. Then the bloody sun would come back out and we'd do it all over again in half-hourly cycles.

One thing we did manage to do while we had the extra hands, is get our old spare 3-seater sofa procariously lifted off of our verandah, and up onto the roof terrace! I'll get some pics and post them into another entry later!

Once everyone had arrived at our place we walked through Barons Court and Hammersmith to the riverbank near the Hammersmith Bridge, and then walked upstream around the bend to Furnival Gardens near the pubs on the riverside to wait for the boats to come racing by. Before then though the rain came down again, and with it a freezing gale that had many of us wondering whether the TV coverage might be a smarter option. Worse still was the chopped up surface of the Thames that we could see awaiting the boat crews.

But we stayed on and standing at the back of the huge crowd along the wall we watched as the Reserves teams came past, eventually won by the Cambridge Boat.

One way to get a view of the race

Not long after we could see the approaching helicopters above the boats as they travelled towards us from Putney, and the dark Blues of Oxford were slightly ahead as they rounded the Hammersmith bend of the river underneath the Bridge. At that point and as they went past us we could see that Oxford had the adventageous inside running around the bed (on the Surrey bank, as opposed to the Middlesex side of the River), and with that they steamed ahead along the rest of the course to beat the Cambridge light blues further down the river at Mortlake by 6 seconds (two lengths).

Our view of the boats going by..

I had my new lens with me, and managed to get an amazing candid shot of Dan's girlfriend Sophie - but because of the crowds on along the wall on our side of the river we only just caught glimpses of the boats through the 5 deep crowds. But we did see them!!

Dan's girlfriend Sophie

But before the race was over, we had started to make the dash back to our place with everyone, so we saw the result from here.

With all its history it really is a great event to go and see, as you have all of the College-types there with their wanky blazers on cheering on 'their Boat'. A tip for anyone going next year: head to the southern side of the river, infront of the school ovals - from there you'll get a great view of all of the crowds on the northern bank as the boats go racing by in a flash..

-shane

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