Dust off your gilet, and mix up a strong flask of Pimm's. It's time to watch London's poshest annual sporting fixture: the boat races.
What is the boat race?
There are actually two boat races — which pit rowing teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities against one another, in a furious dash along the Thames. It all started with the men's inaugural fixture in 1829 — a race which has been held annually since 1856, world wars excepted.
The women's race first ran in 1927, although it didn't become an annual event until 1964. It wasn't until 2015 that the women first raced the same course, on the same day as the men.
When are the 2020 boat races?
Sunday 29 March. The women's race begins at 3.44pm. The men's follows at 4.44pm.
What route do the boat races take?
Both races now cover the same route. A four-mile, 374 yards dash along the Thames, westward from Putney to Mortlake.
The women's course record was set by Cambridge in 2017: 18 minutes, 33 seconds. The men's record is also held by Cambridge, set in 1998: 16 minutes, 19 seconds.
Considerably shorter than watching a footy match, then.
Where's the best place to watch the boat races from?
Pick a spot most places along the banks of the Thames between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge, and you should be able to see the boats. There are, however certain vantage points that come highly recommended:
- Putney Bridge
- Bishops Park, where there are big screens, food & drink and merch stalls
- Putney Embankment
- Craven Cottage: Fulham FC's ground was offering terrace tickets for £10, including welcome drink last year — although tickets for 2020 have yet to be announced
- Chiswick Pier — one of the best vantage points along the course, and with BBQ, bar and big screen from 12.30pm
- Thames Reach, Hammersmith
- Furnivall Gardens, Hammersmith, where there are big screens, food & drink and merch stalls
- Dukes Meadows, Chiswick, where there are big screens, food & drink and live jazz
We recommend you get to any of these places at least a couple of hours before the races start. A picnic and warm clothes aren't a bad idea either.
Hammersmith Bridge will not be open to spectators this year, owing to safety fears.
Where's the best pub to watch the boat races from?
Try one of these riverside beauts. But get there bright and early if you're after a decent view of the river.
- The Boathouse, Putney (this is positioned just behind the starting line — so for those who want to see the boats gather)
- Duke's Head, Putney
- Crabtree Tavern, Hammersmith
- Blue Anchor, Hammersmith
- The Dove, Hammersmith
- Linden House, Hammersmith (which we're told will have a street food market and morris men on the day)
- The Black Lion, Chiswick
- The Bull's Head, Barnes
- Ye White Hart, Barnes
- The Ship, Mortlake
What's the weather going to be like?
Too early to call! We'll let you know when the Met Office think they know.
Are the boat races shown on TV?
Yep. Watched by about 15 million people. Both races are broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, with commentary usually beginning an hour or so before the women's race.
For more information on the boat races, including details on who's rowing, visit the official website.