Cambridgeshire prepares to host historic university Boat Race

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Sport Correspondent Donovan Blake

For the first time in nearly 80 years, the annual boat race between Cambridge and Oxford is to be held in Ely rather than on the River Thames in London.

The yearly battle of rowers from the two historic universities was cancelled last year for the first time in peacetime because of the coronavirus pandemic. And so it can avoid crowds gathering along the river banks, it has been moved to the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire in 2021.

The Cambridge men's rowing team ahead of the 166th Varsity Boat Race to be held in Cambridgeshire Credit: ITV News Anglia / Donovan Blake

The last time the boat race was not held in the capital was in 1944 when it moved to Ely because of the Second World War.

Both the men's and women's race races will now take place on a three-mile stretch of the Great Ouse between Ely and Littleport.

The Cambridge University women's team in training for the annual boat race Credit: ITV News Anglia

The men's and women's race will take place over Easter on Sunday 4 April. The women's race will be at 3.50pm with the men competing at 4.50pm.

The organisers say the Boat Race will be a 'closed' event in 2021 without spectators.

The organisers said: "We are encouraging the millions of Boat Race fans to get involved at home, enjoying the event on the BBC and respecting any restrictions that may be in place at the time."

  • Watch an ITV News Anglia report from 2014 marking the 60th anniversary of the 1944 race

This year's races are the 166th in the men's competition and the 75th for the women. Cambridge are ahead in both by 84 races to 80 for the men and 44 against 30 in the women's competition.

The races held in the Second World War are not counted as official races and it was Oxford who won when the race when it was last in Ely in 1944.

The Cambridge rowing team in training for the 2021 boat race due to be held between Ely and Littleport in Cambridgeshire Credit: ITV News Anglia