Remoteness a key reason why Ely is hosting Boat Race

Spectators will not be allowed to watch the Boat Race on the River Great Ouse near Ely due to Covid-

Spectators will not be allowed to watch the Boat Race on the River Great Ouse near Ely due to Covid-19 restrictions. - Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

The 2021 Boat Race was moved to Ely not because of its historic charm but because of its remoteness and lack of nearby pubs and restaurants.  

Reasons for picking Ely to host this year’s race were revealed in a 114-page events document prepared by the organisers.  

Once having agreed it could go ahead, the Boat Race organisers were keen to find somewhere it could be staged without spectators and without risking the spread of Covid-19.  

Ely came top on four counts, says the report.  

"Remoteness of the location and route,” says the report. “It is approximately 40-35 minutes from the start to Ely or 15 minutes from the finish to Littleport centre”. 


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Secondly “lack of infrastructure to encourage public to congregate in or around the event venue; i.e., fan parks, pubs, restaurants and shops”. 

The report also refers to the “relative ease to restrict access without having a large impact on local traffic, i.e., road closures beside the course”. 

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Proximity of the Cambridgeshire University Boathouse also helped since the “infrastructure is already in place to deliver an event”. 

The Boat Race was also keen that the Swan by the River pub was at the other end of the course.  

The pub will provide 50 packed lunches a day over the weekend for rowers and the Boat Race has secured “exclusive” use of the venue.  

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