Oxford wins 2002 Boat Race with strong finish
Dark Blues clinched victory in one of the closest-fought contests
ever seen, beating Cambridge by just two seconds after the crews
were neck and neck for most of the race.
Oxford took an early three-quarter length lead going into the
first bend, but Cambridge fought back with a good display of pace
and power to move in front.
The advantage looked to be with the Light Blues coming into the
closing stages of the race, holding the lead with the Middlesex
bend in their favor. Oxford, however, fought back tenaciously to
hold Cambridge, and then overtake around the outside of the bend.
They became only the third crew in the history of the event to
have won after being behind at Barnes Bridge.
It was an unprecedented clean sweep for Oxford in varsity
rowing in 2002 with wins for all seven crews at Henley and London.
Oxford University Boat
Club | Official
Boat Race website
The History of the Boat Race
The first boat race was the result of a challenge issued to
Oxford by Cambridge in 1829. It was rowed on the Thames at Henley.
Oxford wore dark blue jerseys, later to become the Oxford blue,
whilst Cambridge donned pink sashes. Oxford were the first
winners. The second race was staged in 1836 when Cambridge adopted
their own light blue, and was rowed on a five and three-quarter
mile stretch of the Thames between Westminster and Putney.
Today the 4.5 mile course, which was first used in 1845,
stretches from Putney to Mortlake. The race is held in March or
early April, after the captain of the previous year's losing team
issues a formal challenge. Cambridge sank in 1859 and 1978, Oxford
in 1925 and 1951, whilst both boats went down in 1912 when the
race was started in half a gale. The most recent sinking occurred
in 1984, when Cambridge sank after ramming a barge before they
were even under starter's orders. The remains of the boat now have
pride of place in a Cambridge public house, and have been signed
by all crew members. Oxford made history in 1981 with the
selection of the first female cox, Sue Brown. She coxed crews to
victory in both 1981 and 1982.
The average time taken to complete the course is 20 minutes,
but Cambridge holds the record for the fastest time of 16 minutes
and 19 seconds, achieved in 1998. The current score stands at 77
to Cambridge, 70 to Oxford, with one controversial dead heat in
1877. There have been other very close results: Oxford won by a
canvas in 1952 and 1980.
The race is the most famous of the Varsity Matches and one of
the most popular televised sporting events in Great Britain, with
an estimated global television audience of 400 million. Around a
quarter of a million people are estimated to watch the race from
The 2002 Boat Race was the 148th race, and took place on
Saturday 30 March.
See Also: Hibbert, C. (ed) The Encyclopaedia of Oxford,
Yurdan, M. Oxford: Town and Gown, London, 1990.