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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Best ever Boat Race?
Oxford hold on for an incredible victory over Cambridge in the closest ever Varsity Boat Race.

Was this the best Boat Race in history?

The 2003 Boat Race has already been descibed as an epic after Oxford clung on by one foot in a thrilling encounter.

Neither team was able to build up a significant lead but when Oxford gained the advantage at Barnes Bridge they looked to be heading for victory.

Cambridge produced a dramatic spurt in the last few lengths but just missed out as the two crews collapsed in exhaustion.

Was this the greatest ever Boat Race?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.

True grit from both crews; well done Oxford, but Cambridge were just awesome to come back into the race with a new bowman, and a re-tuned boat after the crash. Both crews deserved to win.
Phil W, UK

By rights it should have been a dead heat
Allister Webb, England

An amazing race and how much I'll miss Matt Smith. He's given four amazing years to Oxford. A more gutsy and talented stroke will be hard to find.
Hannah, UK

Aaaargh! So close! Never mind boys, we'll get them next year. There was another group of Trinity Hall people in The Bull by Barnes Bridge, and when Tom James came on screen, they probably heard us at Putney! Well done to both teams, you did us proud!
Heeran Buhecha, London (& Cambridge), UK

I've read so much about the annual Boat Race between the universities in PG Wodehouse novels. I always wanted to see it in person, but missed it this year because of sheer laziness (woke up too late). Watched it on TV and enjoyed it thoroughly. I hope to see it live from the banks of the Thames next year.
Anu, UK

Absolutely fantastic. By rights it should have been a dead heat - neither crew deserved to lose. Roll on next year.
Allister Webb, England

That race was F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!!!! Best boat race in living memory! Well done to Oxford, bad luck to Cambridge. But there are no prizes for second place!
J Cleland, N. Ireland

The close result was a fine testament to the professional conditioning of both crews
John Kirk, UK

Thanks to the BBC for webcasting this great event across the pond.
Peter Fiore, USA

Having been a former student at Oxford and member of college boat club, I know what it likes to row. It was a superb race and I would perhaps go as far as the best ever.

It is unbelievable how those rowers keep going for that distance at that pace and yet manage to finish so close! It was again a real gutsy win by Oxford done it the Oxford way (the blood and gut way) and a heartfelt congratulation.
Byungmoon Cho, South Korean living in UK

Good work all round - massive congratulations to both crews for an amazing display. What guts.
Emma, UK

The close result was a fine testament to the professional conditioning of both crews. Several of the 16 could go on to row for GB in Athens. We should celebrate our oarsmen, whatever class they come from.
John Kirk, UK

The race epitomised what sport is all about
Peter, USA

Thanks to both crews for a stunning race, especially the unbelievably nail- biting finish. Hats off to Cambridge for making superb competition, but I can't help but be proud of my boys in dark blue.

May the Boat Race long continue and to the 'tabs, better luck next. time.
Jen, Oxford, England

I was 'channel flicking' on a Sunday afternoon and by accident just watched the boat race in the last three minutes...what excitement. Next year, it will be planned viewing for me.

Well done BBC and commentators and boat rowers for stopping me switching channels.
Janette Treciokas, UK

The race epitomised what sport is all about. Absolute and total commitment between two incredibly talented groups of athletes (I don't think non-rowers appreciate just how good these guys are), a close finish and a huge amount of dignity shown on both sides at the end. Unbelievable!
Peter, USA

Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. And they didn't receive a penny for any of it! The last great amateur sporting spectacle - clearly something to be cherished judging from the 400 million who watched it around the world.

Well done to the Dark Blues and Matt Smith in particular - the way he stroked the boat was just awesome.
Al, UK

I swapped from Belgium TV to the BCC and watched with awe
Trefor Jones, Belgium

A huge cheer went up from a crowd of Trinity Hall people in Hammersmith when Ben Smith's face came up on the giant screen. Well done to him. I'll buy him a pint next time I see him in the bar.
Michael Hall, UK

Please do not belittle the effort, the dedication and the pure guts that Oxford and Cambridge crews demonstrated yesterday with a class debate... Congratulations to both teams - it was an amazing race that will go down in the record books. Well done guys!
Sarah, UK

Immediately after watching the 255km Tour of Flanders Cycle race I swapped from Belgium TV to the BCC and watched with awe as a great British institution came alive as a truly great world class sporting event - terrific.
Trefor Jones, Belgium

What an amazing race! This was the first time I went to London to watch, great atmosphere.

I can't imagine how much money gets pumped into the two clubs - spare a thought for us university clubs that have to maintain our own boats, coach ourselves and get excited when we've raised enough money to buy a second-hand 'plastic' boat!
James, UK

We had no idea who had done it until it was announced on the radio
Lachlan, Girton College, Cambridge

A great race, probably the best ever. The real winners were the spectators on the banks and watching on TV. Many thanks to both crews for a great sporting moment.
Ian Bazely, England

I wish I had been there to watch this one (with a glass of Pimms in hand, of course). When I see those blokes flying over the water, it is hard to remember how difficult it is to actually row like that, something I learnt first hand pulling on bow side for two years in Ox. Congratulations to both teams, but especially to the very best.
Rod, Chile

This was my first trip to watch the race live and we were right on the finish line screaming for our lads to bring it back from behind. By the end the two boats were so close that whoever stroked just before the line would win.

We had no idea who had done it until it was announced on the radio (Five Live in case you were wondering - great commentary from the BBC!)

Also congratulations to the Goldie Crew, who had my mate Jon Alexander from Girton in the boat. Let's hope some of those guys get a blue next year. 150 years - bring it on!
Lachlan, Girton College, Cambridge

This was rowing at its finest: power, finesse, and sheer guts from both crews. Add in the tradition and you've got a sports event that makes you proud to be British. The German commentators were certainly envious that nothing like this exists over here. Thanks BBC for such superb coverage.
John, Germany

One can only get the feeling that without changing bowman at the last minute, Cambridge would have had the desired result
Ian, London

Hats off to the coxes - they may not exert too much physical energy in the race, but their mental output was terrific. Oxford holding on off Middlesex was impressive enough coxing, but the Cambridge cox spotting the bend into the finish, and getting the power into it - brilliant.

As for 'elitism', it's funny how class only seems to matter to those who don't attend the two universities. Inverted snobbery, or jealousy?
JimiP (from the North), UK

Wow! I'm a final year Oxford student and I was watching the race from just before Barnes Bridge. The Oxford boat was just ahead when it went past us and then we watched on the TV as the Tabs bravely overtook us just centimetres after the finish line. Superb!
James, Oxford, England

Fantastic race but one can only get the feeling that without changing bowman at the last minute, Cambridge would have had the desired result. Just having to set the boat back up again after their accident probably cost them the race without the addition of a crew change!

Saying that, it's a shame that rowing in general doesn't get the coverage the boat race does. There's no doubt these guys are great athletes, but only just above a good club standard. It can only show the great differences there are in our society.

This is one of the very few sports that we as a country excel at but the inability to support our best oarsmen is deplorable. The ARA should take off its old school tie and move into a new era. There's more to rowing than Oxford, Cambridge and public schools.
Ian, London

I have been a Boat Race and Oxford fan since I was 12 years old, some 69 years ago. I didn't watch it on TV but the commentary had me sitting on the floor at the finish for the second year running. By the way, I have an appointment with my heart specialist next Wednesday! Thanks to both Blues. Great stuff chaps.
Peter, Panama

What a thrilling race to watch. I was hoping for a dead heat since it was given odds of 100-1. Does anybody know what the actual likelihood of a dead heat is, given how very accurate modern timepieces are?? Well done to both teams!
Philip Whittington, United Kingdom

Well done to both teams - what a scorcher!!! Bad luck Cambridge, I'm hoarse from cheering you on and you did us all proud!! As one of the commentators said, but for modern technology it would have been a dead-heat!
Sarah, UK

Hats off to Oxford, and to 18 dedicated men with big hearts
Andrew, Cambridge

Awesome. I didn't see all the other 148, but I can't imagine there was ever a race as good as this.

To the inverted snobs whining about the class system and tokenism, I'm from a state school in Wigan and my parents were both state school teachers, but I still got into Oxford 20 years ago. If public school students were in the majority back then, it certainly didn't feel like it.
Stuart, Germany

Wow. What a race - I'm unexpectedly gutted. Those poor Cambridge boys will have to live with a string of 'what ifs?' for a long time. Hats off to Oxford for taking a great race, and to 18 dedicated men with big hearts. All Oxbridge can be proud today.
Andrew, Cambridge, England

You don't get much closer than are they going to top it for Boat Race number 150? Credit to both teams, but especially Oxford - go Dark Blues, go!
Emad, UK

Best ever Boat Race? Of course! I have a son at Hampton and we all shouted for both boats...for once!
Kitty Wass, England

Well done to both crews for such a great race, but especially to Oxford - to win with a 7kg deficit per man is a real achievement. It was the best race in history, and as a Dark Blue myself, I am incredibly proud of our boys!
Rosa, England

Chris (below) - I'm from "the North" too, and am a member of the state school MAJORITY at Oxford who certainly did not gain his place here through "tokenism".

What a race! My heart goes out to the Cambridge crew
Lucy, Oxford

This is a time to congratulate these excellent amateur sportsmen who reach such high standards in a very difficult and tiring sport.
David Parkinson, Oxford, UK

YES! A well-deserved and hard-fought victory from the mighty Dark Blues. Matt Smith at stroke was fantastic. But all credit to both crews.
Rose, UK

What a race! My heart goes out to the Cambridge crew, although I have to be delighted that my boys came from the underdog position to take the trophy.

As for all the people who are ranting on about the news coverage given to such an 'elitist' sport, the boat race has always been a sporting test between two great rivals. We play each other at every other kind of sport too!

Just because the public and the BBC choose to pay so much attention to this one ISN'T our fault. In an ideal world rowing would get loads more coverage and we'd get to see all sorts of professional and university boats from all over racing without having to trek to regattas, but alas, it is not to be.
Lucy, Oxford

Having a sister at Oxford, and knowing both pairs of brothers personally (they went to Hampton School- where I study at present), it was a race that I felt more involved with than ever before.

I was on the edge of my seat from the word go. In my opinion, this was the best race we have ever seen and I doubt we shall ever see another nearly so exciting.
Tommy B, England

Congratulations to the Oxford crew as they were excellent
Hayls, England

The best race ever - period! There were no losers today... well done to both teams.
Lawrie Jones, UK

The Oxbridge students do not swan around London like they own the place, they clearly do not. Their parents do. And to the non-public school students at Oxbridge who say it isn't exclusive - why are you in such a minority? Ever heard of tokenism? Long live the English class system.
Chris, The North, UK

Now that is a race! That is what real team work and coaching is about! And what sportsmanship is about, real recognition of the other side's great effort. No more yawn yawn boat races, and next year is really going to be something.

And finally Dad - who won again? Come on let's hear you say it! OXFORD!
Scobie-John, Japan

The race was very good and congratulations to the Oxford crew as they were excellent. It was great to see such a close race. Maybe Cambridge will win next year but well done to the Oxford crew!
Hayls, England

Could you please tell me the name of the music that was played during the crews' exit to the boats, thanks.
D Tasker, England



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