2021 Boat Race moved from Thames to River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire

The Cambridge crew in the 2019 Boat Race. Credit: PA

Next year's Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford Universities will take place on the Great Ouse at Ely.

It will be only the second time the race has been moved off the Thames.

Organisers made the decision to relocate the event due to ongoing structural problems with Hammersmith Bridge where the race is normally staged.

Since August, boats have been banned from passing under the bridge after large cracks were discovered.

As a result, both the men's and women's races will now take place on a three-mile stretch of the Great River Ouse between Ely and Littleport in April next year.

Another factor in the decision to move the race is that it won't attract the usual big crowds, and organisers are urging people to stay at home and follow the action on TV instead.

  • Watch an archive piece of the last time the Boat Race came to Ely in 1944

"Organising sport safely and responsibly is our highest priority and moving The Boat Race to Ely in 2021 enables the event to go ahead in a secure environment," Dr George Gilbert, Chair of The Boat Race Company Limited Race and Operations Committee said.

"While we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators along the course, we will be inviting our communities and wider audience to get involved via our social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on the BBC."

The area will be familiar to the Cambridge crews who opened a new £5 million boathouse at Ely in 2016, and regularly train there.

The course will be around a mile shorter than the traditional Putney to Mortlake route.

Ely also staged the race the only other time it was held away from the Thames in 1944.

On that occassion, it was switched to Cambridgeshire because of fears of German wartime bombing raids.

Despite Cambridge having home advantage then, Oxford won by three quarters of a length.