The Boat Race 1872

The 29th Boat Race took place on the 27 March 1872. The Boat Race is an annual side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames. In a race umpired by Robert Lewis-Lloyd, Cambridge won by two lengths in a time of 21 minutes 15 seconds taking the overall record to 16–13 in Oxford's favour.

29th Boat Race
Date27 March 1872 (1872-03-27)
Margin of victory2 lengths
Winning time21 minutes 15 seconds
Overall record
UmpireRobert Lewis-Lloyd


Former rower Frank Willan coached Oxford.

The Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing competition between the University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the "Dark Blues")[1] and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the "Light Blues").[1] The race was first held in 1829, and since 1845 has taken place on the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course on the River Thames in southwest London.[2][3] Cambridge went into the race as reigning champions, having defeated Oxford by one length in the previous year's race, while Oxford led overall with sixteen wins to Cambridge's twelve.[4]

During the build-up to the race, Oxford's boat club president, Robert Lesley of Pembroke College,[5] strained his side and was prohibited from practice. Worse still, four days before the race, the number two rower Armistead "broke down and was replaced by C. C. Knollys, also an untrained man".[6] Conversely, Cambridge saw John Goldie return as president for the third consecutive year,[6] and while all the previous year's Blues were available, four were selected for the race.[7]

Oxford were coached by E. G. Banks of Worcester College and Frank Willan who had rowed for the Dark Blues four times between the 1866 and 1869 races.[8][9] Cambridge's coaches were John Graham Chambers (who rowed for Cambridge in the 1862 and 1863 races, and was non-rowing boat club president for the 1865 race)[10] and William Henry Lowe (who rowed in three times, in the 1868, 1870 and 1871 races).[9][11]

While sliding seats had started to come to prominence, having been first used by a crew from Pembroke College, Goldie was reluctant to allow them to be tried for the race and disallowed the Light Blue boat manufacturer Harry Clasper from fitting them.[7] The umpire for the race was Robert Lewis-Lloyd, the first time since The Boat Race 1856 that the event was not overseen by Joseph William Chitty.[12] Lewis-Lloyd had rowed for Cambridge four times, between the 1856 and the 1859 races inclusively.[13] Edward Searle once again performed the duties of the starter.[14]


The Cambridge crew weighed an average of 11 st 12.875 lb (75.6 kg), 2.375 pounds (1.1 kg) more than their opponents.[15] Oxford's crew contained three rowers with Boat Race experience, and saw F. H. Hall return to cox the Dark Blue boat for the third time. Along with stroke and president Goldie, Cambridge's crew included Edmund Spencer and Edward Randolph (each rowing their third race), and John Brooks Close who had rowed in 1871.[16]

Seat Cambridge
Name College Weight Name College Weight
Bow James B. Close 1st Trinity 11 st 3 lb J. A. Ornsby Lincoln 10 st 13 lb
2 C. W. Benson 3rd Trinity 11 st 4 lb C. C. Knollys Magadalen 10 st 13 lb
3 G. M. Robinson Christ's 11 st 12 lb F. E. H. Payne St John's 12 st 11 lb
4 E. A. A. Spencer 2nd Trinity 12 st 8.5 lb A. W. Nicholson Magdalen 12 st 1 lb
5 C. S. Read 1st Trinity 12 st 8 lb E. C. Malan Worcester 13 st 0 lb
6 John B. Close 1st Trinity 11 st 10 lb R. S. Mitchison Pembroke 12 st 1.5 lb
7 E. S. L. Randolph 3rd Trinity 11 st 11 lb R. Lesley (P) Pembroke 11 st 12 lb
Stroke J. H. D. Goldie Lady Margaret Boat Club 12 st 4.5 lb T. H. Houblon Christ Church 10 st 5 lb
Cox C. H. Roberts Jesus 6 st 6 lb F. H. Hall Corpus Christi 7 st 12 lb
(P) – boat club president[17]


The Championship Course, along which the race is conducted

Cambridge won the toss and elected to start from the Middlesex station, handing the Surrey side of the river to Oxford.[15] The race started at 1.35 p.m. "in the teeth of a bitter north-easterly gale and snow-storm",[7] and proved uneventful with the Light Blues winning by two lengths in a time of 21 minutes 15 seconds.[4] Partway through the race, Goldie had broken a bolt in his rigging; although he could no longer contribute to the power of the Light Blue boat, he continued to stroke and provide the required rhythm to lead Cambridge to the victory.[18] It was Cambridge's third consecutive win and took the overall record to 16–13 in Oxford's favour.[4]



  1. ^ a b "Dark Blues aim to punch above their weight". The Observer. 6 April 2003. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  2. ^ Smith, Oliver (25 March 2014). "University Boat Race 2014: spectators' guide". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  3. ^ "The Course". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Boat Race – Results". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  5. ^ "History of PCBC". Pembroke College, Oxford. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b Drinkwater, p. 65
  7. ^ a b c Drinkwater, p. 66
  8. ^ Burnell, p. 102
  9. ^ a b Burnell pp. 110–111
  10. ^ Burnell, p. 104
  11. ^ Burnell, p. 107
  12. ^ Drinkwater, pp. 43–66
  13. ^ Burnell, p. 106
  14. ^ Burnell, p. 49
  15. ^ a b c Burnell, p. 60
  16. ^ Burnell, pp. 59–60
  17. ^ Burnell, pp. 50–51
  18. ^ "Start of the annual race". The Boat Race Company Limited. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.


  • Burnell, Richard (1979). One Hundred and Fifty Years of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Precision Press. ISBN 0950063878.
  • Drinkwater, G. C.; Sanders, T. R. B. (1929). The University Boat Race – Official Centenary History. Cassell & Company, Ltd.

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