Businesses and local rowers welcome news the Boat Race is coming to Ely

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Businesses leaders and local rowers in Ely have welcomed the news that next year's Oxford and Cambridge boat race will be on the River Great Ouse.

The new location makes it easier to avoid large crowds and there are ongoing structural issues with Hammersmith Bridge on the Thames.

At the King's School in Ely more than 120 pupils take part in rowing, so news the sport's premier event, the Boat Race, will be held on the River Great Ouse next spring has been greeted with awe.

The race attracts millions of viewers every year. The school itself believes it presents a huge learning opportunity for students.

Seeing the elite standard that the boat race requires, the discipline, the determination, the effort that goes in from the rowers themselves

Craig Ward, Head of Rowing, King's School
Jeremy Dale, Boat Race Veteran Credit: ITV Anglia

Jeremy Dale has taught at King's for many years and rowed three times for Oxford in the race half a century ago.

Unlike the Thames the Great Ouse is straight and non tidal around Ely. He believes it will make for a very different race.

It's more of a straight line race, on the Thames tideway once one crew is ahead they can just scamper away, on a traight line race it will be more of a mtch and fewer tactics

Jeremy Dale, Boat Race Veteran

There is a precedent the Boat Race was held at Ely in 1944, the only other time it's been held away from the Thames.

Sixty years later the city celebrated the diamond anniversary of that race and Ely's current rowing club grew out of those celebrations.

We hope it will give us a bit of exposure, we're trying to get away from the image of rowing being an elite sport

Derek Pickersgill, President, Isle of Ely Rowing Club
Rob Baker, Men's Chief Coach Credit: ITV Anglia

Charles Merivale was one of two men who established the Boat Race in 1829. He went on to become Dean of Ely Cathedral.

Next April Cambridge will have home advantage. They train on these waters but they're mainly delighted the race will be taking place at all.

Those that take part will be legends, it will be a special year and it will be a very special Boat Race

Rob Baker, Men's Chief Coach
Students from King's School train on the River Great Ouse Credit: ITV Anglia

It's not yet known whether crowds will be able to watch the race, but it's bound to generate publicity for Ely.

It will shine a spotlight on Ely, nationally and internationally, hopefully we can maximise the economic debefit that can bring

Harvey Bibby, Ely Chamber of Commerce