“THIS year, Ely is very lucky to be playing host to The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Normally held on the Tideway, The Boat Race has been moved to the Great Ouse due to concerns over Hammersmith Bridge and the implications of hosting such an event in London with Covid restrictions in place.
“So for our rowers, they can say that their playground is about to be the focus of a global audience. We really do have a world class facility for our young oarsmen and women. Technically the race is between Queen Adelaide and Littleport, but Ely is officially the Host City!
“Ely actually has a proud history with The Boat Race. It was founded by two students, Charles Wordsworth from Oxford and Charles Merivale from Cambridge – Merivale went on to be the Dean of Ely Cathedral. The first race took place in 1829 and this year will be the 166th men’s race. The women’s race will be the 75th.
“In 1944, the race took place here rather than in London due to the ongoing war. Cambridge’s Boat House is of course here in Ely and every morning the crews put in their training before returning to Cambridge for their lectures.
“Normally 250,000 line the banks of the Thames, but unfortunately no-one this year will be able to watch live – a huge disappointment for those of us who had planned where we were going to stand, but understandable. However, I encourage all of our pupils to watch the event on television and to take pride in the fact that Ely will be very much in the spotlight of the sporting world. Millions of people will be tuning in!
“The pride should be all the greater due to the fact that as a school we have a very special involvement this year. The Oxford men and women are actually being accommodated in our boarding houses. Good luck to the catering staff who have got to feed them! Extra long beds will be being built for the rowers, some of whom are not short of 7 feet tall!
“Sometimes, to say I teach at a school that has all of the history, connections and opportunities that I have described above, I have to pinch myself. We are all very lucky indeed to have our school community together here.”