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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 15:00 GMT
Rowing back the years
BBC Sport Online's Mark Ashenden looks at the Boat Race's glorious and colourful past.
The Boat Race is the annual rowing contest between England's two oldest and most famous universities.
Oxford and Cambridge University have been battling against each other over four and a quarter miles on the River Thames for 175 years.
Two friends, Charles Merival who was at Cambridge, and Charles Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth), a student at Oxford, decided to hold a race between the universities.
On 12 March 1829, Cambridge challenged Oxford and a tradition was born.
Because of overcrowding in Westminster, the Boat Race moved six miles up-stream to Putney in 1845.
Within 11 years it became an annual event, taking place from Putney to Mortlake and, apart from during the two World Wars, has continued to the present day.
Each year, the loser of the previous year's event challenges the winner to a new race.
In the early years of the Boat Race, the crews wore no distinguishing colours.
In 1836 Oxford selected dark blue to race in, the colour of their stroke-man's college (Christ Church), and Cambridge adopted the "duck egg blue" of Eton.
Both crews have not always been able to stay afloat for the race.
Cambridge sank in 1859, and then suffered the embarrassment of going under water just a mile from the finish in 1978.
Their rivals have suffered in similar style.
Oxford sunk in 1925, and in 1951 they lost the rescheduled race after falling foul to rough waters in the initial clash.
Both boats even went down in 1912 having contended with a strong gale.
The most recent sinking occurred in 1984, when Cambridge went down after ramming a barge before they were even under starter's orders.
The remains of the boat now have pride of place in a Cambridge public house.
Dan Topolski has had an illustrious and colourful Boat Race career and was at the centre of the infamous mutiny in 1987.
After coaching Oxford to 10 victories from 11 races, the streak was broken in 1986 - Oxford oarsmen, American Rick Ross, wanted revenge.
Ross returned the following year with members of the US national rowing team enrolling as students.
However, disagreements over training methods and crew selection caused a bitter clash between the Oxford president Donald MacDonald and the American oarsmen.
Equality reigns supreme
The Americans pulled out six weeks before the race, but Topolski remarkably moulded an inexperienced reserve crew into a winning team.
Topolski wrote about his experiences in a book called "True Blue" which was subsequently made into a movie.
The men have not always had it their own way in the Boat Race.
The first time both boats were coxed by women was in 1989, with Alison Norrish (Oxford) and Leigh Weiss (Cambridge).
With about six million people expected to watch on BBC TV and an estimated worldwide audience of 400 million the race is a huge attraction.
The BBC first broadcast running commentary in 1927, and 11 years later covered the race on TV for the first time.
The average time taken to complete the course is 20 minutes, but Cambridge holds the record of 16 minutes and 19 seconds, achieved in 1998.
The current score stands at 76 to Cambridge, 69 to Oxford, with one controversial dead heat in 1877.
When awakened and asked the result he said: "Dead heat to Oxford by four feet."
Famous people to have competed in the race include former Australian Prime Minister Lord Bruce of Melbourne (Cambridge 1907), photographer Lord Snowdon (Cambridge 1950) and comedian Hugh Lawrie (Cambridge 1980).
Olympic gold medallists Matthew Pinsent (Oxford 1992-93) and Jonny Searle (Oxford 1988-89) have also rowed in the race.
Grandstand - 147th Boat Race
The whole race is also being streamed live on BBC Sport Online
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