COLUMN: Boat Race return is 'excellent' for Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club women's crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club women's crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely - Credit: © Terry Harris

After the disappointment of last year’s cancellation, it is excellent news that this year’s boat race is going ahead in a Covid-secure manner on the Great Ouse between Ely and Littleport.

While spectators will not be allowed, I am looking forward to joining millions of others to watch the televised race on Sunday April 4.

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

As many may know, this is not the first time circumstances have led to Ely hosting the great annual showdown between the Oxford and Cambridge crews.

In 1944, wartime conditions made it impossible to host the event in central London.

Road closures in littleport near finish line to Boat Race ,Littleport, ElySaturday 27 March 2021.

Road closures in Littleport near finish line to Boat Race , Littleport, Ely Saturday 27 March 2021. Picture by Terry Harris.

I have a long-established admiration for the physical and mental toughness possessed by rowers.


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I remember well getting up at the crack of dawn when I was a student in Cambridge for a college rowing trial.

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely - Credit: © Terry Harris

It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t possess the qualities needed for the sport.

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So I have huge respect for all those who are taking part in the race this week.

The 2021 boat race taking place in Ely will showcase the unique landscape we are fortunate enough to enjoy to an international audience.

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Hopefully, it will encourage people to visit the area once restrictions have been lifted.

I also hope this year’s boat race will inspire the next generation of sportsmen and women to grab their oars and get out on the river.

Despite the challenges of the past year, the fact the race is able to safely go ahead is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all those involved.

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely

Cambridge University Boat Club crew train on the River Great Ouse at Ely - Credit: © Terry Harris


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