Training for 1927 Womens Boat Race


In preparation for the first Women’s Boat Race, held on the Isis on 15 March 1927, the women of Oxford University Boat Club submitted to an ascetic regime, as was reported in the Western Morning News at the time.

English: The Boat Race Start Stone. Category:I... English: The Boat Race Start Stone. Category:Images of the Boat Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The women’s day would start with a long walk at half-past seven, followed by a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, fish, toast and marmalade. After a morning of study and lunch of cold meat, salad and fruit they then headed to the river for an outing, except on Sundays when time in the boat was substituted with a four-mile walk. The post-training tea was a light affair, but they had a substantial dinner before bed at half-past ten.

The women’s social lives were curtailed, as trips to the cinema and dances were not allowed, along with morning coffee and eating between meals. Worse still, the ‘cocoa orgy, that form of revelry so dear to the heart of the Oxford Undergraduette’ was strictly forbidden.

Oxford’s regime paid off, as they won the ‘race’ – in which the crews took to the water separately to be judged on ‘steadiness, rhythm, beginning and finish of stroke, general impression and speed’ over a half-mile course – by a substantial margin over Newnham College, representing Cambridge (CUWBC was not founded until 1940).

Undiscouraged, the Newnham women then went to London the following week for more racing: their fixture against UCL over the last mile of the Boat Race course was apparently the first official boat race between women on that part of the Thames. They then took on KCL, despite rumours that the King’s women had, in seeking coaching from their boatman, a professional, violated the rules of the ARA and had thus become professionals. The complaint was not upheld and the race went ahead, only for Newnham to lose by stopping before the finish line.

Zoe Gullen


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Angela Harrison

    Rachel I’ve missed my hearty breakfast!

  2. Rachel Lombard

    Don’t panic Angela there is still time to fit in a substantial dinner

  3. Angela Harrison

    But Rachel no “cocoa orgy” does that mean Snickers are banned too!

  4. Peta Bree Rule

    This is a snippet from our newsletter in 1968. Apparently back then, BYOG was a thing:

  5. Zoe

    Hi Peta,

    Sorry for the late response, but I’m interested to hear that this was picked up back in 1968, and that there was also a newsletter back then: I’m currently researching an article on the history of the Women’s Boat Race.

    Would you by any chance have a copy of that newsletter? I’ve found lots of early stuff – like the reports above – in the British Newspaper Archive, but there seems to have been very little reporting about the 1960s revival.


    PS – Also, BYOG?

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