1911 1912 1913 1914
BOAT RACE 1910 - 1914

Oxford University v Cambridge University

1910 Map

Map taken from George Drinkwater's "The Boat Race"

67: Wednesday, 23rd March, 1910

In 1910 OXFORD WON by 3½ lengths. Time 20 minutes and 14 seconds. Oxford 36, Cambridge 30

Cambridge won the toss and chose Middlesex. They started much better than Oxford. A slight crab robbed them of the lead and Oxford went ahead. Round the corner Shields [Cambridge stroke] spurted well and had a few feet at the mile. When the station favoured him Bourne [Oxford stroke] spurted. In ten strokes he was nearly clear. At the Doves he spurted again and took another length. Then his heavy weights relaxed their efforts, and Bourne kept answering Shield's spurts by himself when there was no real need to do so. Oxford eventually won by three and a half lengths.

M B Higgins, 11. 6½
R H Owen, 12. 6½
N Field, 13. 8½
E Majolier, 13. 0½
D Mackinnon, 13. 2½
A S Garton, 13.11
P Fleming, 12. 6
R C Bourne, 11. 0
A W F Donkin

R W M Arbuthnot, 10. 5
R Davies, 11.11½
F E Hellyer, 12. 3½
C P Cooke, 12. 9½
E G William, 13. 2½
J B Rosher, 14. 4
C R le Blanc Smith, 12. 6½
H J S Shields, 11. 5½
C A Skinner, 8. 5

68: Saturday 1st April, 1911

In 1911 OXFORD WON by 2¾ lengths. Time 18 minutes and 29 seconds. Oxford 37, Cambridge 30
This record time stood until 1934

There was a light breeze from NNE, which brought up a swinging tide so that Oxford, who had won the toss and taken Surrey, dragged their stakeboat, causing delay. Then both crews got away well. Bourne [Oxford stroke], at 38 against 36, at once led, and had ¾ length at Craven Steps. Oxford at 36 to 34 just held Cambridge round the corner. At the Crab Tree they were clear and shot Hammersmith two and a half lengths ahead. Bourne dropped to 30. At Chiswick Steps, the first point where the record was broken, they were four lengths clear and more at Barnes, but from this point Cambridge were allowed to come up to be beaten in the end by two and three quarter lengths.

C E Tinne, 12. 2½
L G Wormald, 12. 7
R E Burgess, 12. 2½
E J H V Millington-Drake, 12. 8
C W B Littlejohn, 12.13½
A S Garton, 13. 8
D Mackinnon, 13. 5½
R C Bourne, 10.13
H B Wells, 8. 5

S E Swann, 11. 8
P V G Van der Byl, 12. 2½
F E Hellyer, 12. 0
C F Burnand, 12. 4
C R le Blanc-Smith, 13. 3
J B Rosher, 14. 6½
G E Fairbairn, 11.13
R W M Arbuthnot, 10. 8
C A Skinner, 8.12

Oxford Stroke Reginald Bourne

68: First attempt: Saturday, 30th March, 1912
Second attempt: Monday, 1st April, 1912

In 1912 both boats sank at first attempt. OXFORD eventually WON by 6 lengths. Time 22 minutes and 5 seconds. Oxford 38, Cambridge 30

On the Saturday there was a half gale blowing from the west with a touch of north in it. The tide was by no means strong when the stakeboats were set, and the water did not look very bad, but the wind got up and the tide strengthened as the crews prepared to start. Oxford had won the toss and chosen Surrey. Both strokes started off too fast, Swann [Cambridge] rowing 20 in the first half minute, Bourne [Oxford], 18. Practically all that could be seen of the boats was two huge clouds of spray rising and falling with each stroke.
Opposite London Rowing Club Cambridge caught a whole series of crabs, and getting across the tide took in a lot of water. Oxford got away a half length and dropped to 28, but Swann kept going at 34 to try to catch them, and at every stroke took more water on board.
Round Craven Steps the water was better, but Cambridge were already sinking at the Mile. They struggled on almost to Harrods where they foundered, the crew taking to the water.

1912 Boatrace Cambridge sink
Cambridge swim for it in 1912

Oxford were, of course, right away. Coming out to take the centre arch they had to go through rough water again. The second dose was too much for them; cox took them into the bank opposite the Oil Mills at a point which had not yet been embanked. They got out, emptied thir boat, and re-embarked, when Mr Pitman [umpire] came up and declared the race "off".

The race was rowed again on the Monday when it was decided that a fresh toss should be made, as Oxford could not be held to their choice of station in altered conditions. The weather was even worse, and the wind blew with the force of a whole gale, but from the north this time. Oxford were again lucky with the toss, and of course chose Middlesex. The stakeboats were anchored very much nearer the Fulham bank than usual.
Both crews started off fast, Cambridge at 40, but they only gained very slightly. Oxford had gone right under Middlesex and gaining shelter lost the tide. Cambridge continued racing outside them to Craven Steps, but then had to drop into their wake, which they should have done before. Oxford then went rapidly away, were two and a half lengths ahead at Hammersmith, and finally won by six lengths.

F A H Pitman, 11.11½
C E Tinne, 12. 4
L G Wormald, 12. 9
E D Horsfall, 12. 6
A H M Wedderburn, 13.11
A F R Wiggins, 12.11
C W B Littlejohn, 12. 8
R C Bourne, 11. 0½
H B Wells, 8. 9

R W M Arbuthnot, 10. 9
D C Collins, 11. 7¾
H M Heyland, 12. 4¼
R S Shove, 12. 6½
J H Goldsmith, 12.13½
C R le Blanc Smith, 13. 3
L S Lloyd, 10. 5½
S E Swann, 11. 6
C A Skinner, 8. 3

1912: William Blair in the Arena Magazine summons various poets to contibute in their own style -

Milton as stakeboat man:

This he. Whereat the coin, descending swift,
What seemed the likeness of a head displayed ...

Browning as oarsman:

Not a jest, not a jorum; we bent to our yoke,
Neck by neck, swing by swing, never changing our stroke;

Meredith as spectator:

Quicker fall the blades as the grim Stroke stretches
In his scant zephyr, calling on his crew,
Arms out, he lengthens. O the bluish oar-blades!
O the stark aloofness of the star-skied Blue!

Browning is still pulling:

'Twas ding-dong at Crabtree; but as we draw near,
Harrod's Stores, rowing strong, we begin to pull clear ...

Tennyson is coxing:

Neat and low, neat and low,
Stroke of the 'Varsitee,
Low, low, swing and row,
Stroke of the 'Varsitee!

Swing and kick, swing and kick,
Hammersmith Bridge is past;
Kick, kick, and feather quick,
Hammersmith Bridge is past.

Browning is having a rotten time:

By the meadows six fainted, and Cox cried, 'Jump clear!
You are dead to the world, and you look pretty queer,
We'll remember at Mortlake' - One felt the quick spring
Of the boat, saw the splashed spray and widening ring,
And spurted, with horrible heaves of the oar,
As Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, and Bow swam ashore.

Anon is a frantic coach on the launch:

'Why does your blade drap in sae deep,
Eightsmon, eightsmon?
Why does your blade drap in sae deep,
And why sae bad row ye, O?'
'O I hae strained my rigger sair,
Coachie, coachie;
O I hae strained my rigger sair,
And I canna feather free, O.'

Dobson is in trouble:

I intended a spurt,
And it turned to a bucket.
Oh, I'll lay my last shirt
I intended a spurt ...

Meanwhile, Browning won the race on his own:

Then I flung off my zephyr, as Seven fell slack,
Seized hold of his oar at the small of my back,
Stood up on the slide as I swung to and fro,
Called to Cox to give ten, doing forty or so,
Banged the rowlocks, sang songs (with the foe looking done),
Till at length into Mortlake I spurted and won.

Byron wrote the epitaph:

Last eve beheld them full of beans,
Last night brought early bed, the dawning grey
The needle - and who knows what that means! - - - - - [Not I!]
The morn the race itself - the close of day
Dinner's beneficently-big display!
The Empire last receives them, where when shent
They shake the earth anew with sterner fray -
Whence they are outed, bruised, and well content,
Isis and Cam - friend, foe - to one grim Vine Street sent!

For stroke's strained rigger see 1872 when the great Goldie was Cambridge stroke.
Vine Street was the Magistrate's Court where over rowdy celebrants landed up on the following morning!

70: Thursday, 13th March 1913

In 1913 OXFORD WON by ¾ length. Time 20 minutes and 53 seconds. Oxford 39, Cambridge 30

Cambridge had to replace three oarsmen with only 9 days to go.

With a fair tide but perfect conditions Cambridge won the toss and took Surrey.
Starting off with 21 in the first half minute, a rate never attempted in practice, Horsfall [Oxford] took his crew out of their stride and they never settled down to row with rhythm until after Barnes Bridge. Cambridge, going off steadily at 19 and 36, gained half a length in the first minute, and were clear at the Mile.
Horsfall spurted and there was nearly a foul. At Harrords Cambridge had only half a length, but with the station again drew away, were nearly clear at Hammersmith, and had a length and a half at Chiswick Steps. There was a little lipper on the water in Corney, and Cambridge with three rather stiff unfit men in the boat were obviously tiring.
At Barnes Oxford were only a few feet behind, Cambridge again in their water, and at the Queen's Head Oxford were overlapping and almost bumping their rivals. Both coxes gave way and avoided a foul for the second time. Then Horsfall, driving his men like a demon, crept up inch by inch with the station to help him. At the Brewery they were level. Tower [Cambridge stroke] made a last gallant effort and rowed level for a few strokes, but his crew were at their last gasp, they wavered, and Oxford forged ahead to win by three-quarters of a length.

E R Burgess, 11.12
C L Baillieu, 12. 3½
R P Hankinson, 11.13½
H K Ward, 12.10½
A H M Wedderburn, 13.10½
A F R Wiggins, 12.13½
L G Wormald, 12.10½
E D Horsfall, 12. 6
H B Wells, 8. 7

G A Fisher, 10. 2
S E Swann, 11. 9½
H Roper, 12.10½
W M Askwith, 13.10
C S Clark, 12.13
R S Shove, 12. 8
C E V Buxton, 12. 0
G E Tower, 11.11¼
L E Ridley, 8. 6

71: Saturday, 28th March, 1914

In 1914 CAMBRIDGE WON by 4½ lengths. Time 20 minutes and 23 seconds. Oxford 39, Cambridge 31

There was a nice breeze from the south with a touch of east in it. Both rowed 38 at the start, and though Oxford led at first, Cambridge were level at the end of a minute. Soon after Oxford got ragged and Cambridge gained fast, were clear at the Mile, two lengths ahead at Hammersmith, winning in the end by four and a half lengths.

R W Fletcher, 11.10½
B Burdekin, 12. 4
H K Ward, 12. 9
E D Horsfall, 12. 7½
J B Kindersley, 12. 9½
A F R Wiggins, 12.13
G W Titherington, 12.10
F A H Pitman, 11.12½
H B Wells, 8. 8

D I Day, 11. 6
S E Swann, 11.13
P C Livingston 13. 7
J A Ritson, 13. 7
K G Garnett, 13.12
C S Clark, 13. 1
C E V Buxton, 12. 2½
G E Tower, 11.12
L E Ridley, 8. 7

Oxford Bow, R W Fletcher was killed in Action 1914/15

Four of the winning Cambridge Crew died in the war. Cambridge 5 was Kenneth Garnett -

LIEUTENANT KENNETH GORDON GARNETT, M.C., R.F.A., who died of wounds on the 21st inst. after a year's illness, was the son of Dr. William Garnett and Mrs Garnett, of Hampstead. He was educated at St Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1914 he rowed No 5 in the Cambridge winning eight, and also rowed for Leander in the same year.
On the outbreak of war he and several of his Cambridge friends joined the crew of the Zarepha, of which his brother, the late Lieutenant Stuart Garnett, was lieutenant-commander. For five months he was engaged in the adventurous work of mine-sweeping. Then in January, 1915, he entered the Royal Field Artillery, and in the following month went out to France.
In March he was shot in the leg, and returned home. When convalescent he went up to Cambridge and completed his honours degree course successfully, though still on crutches. He was offered three home billets, but declined them, as (to use his own words) he did not wish to stay at home and let a married man fight for him.
Returning to the front in October, 1915, he worked with his battery for 10 months. He was wounded in the spine on August 24, 1916, and for the past year has been nursed at the Empire Hospital, Vincent-square, and latterly at Templeton House, Roehampton.
He was awarded the Military Cross and received his decoration from the King a few weeks ago, while at the Empire Hospital. He also received the Croix de Guerre from the French Government.

In 2008 his great great nephew Tobias Garnett rowed 4 for Cambridge.

Movie of 1914 Boat Race

Starting with shots of the crews carrying their boats into the river, this film records key moments from the 1914 boat race, with the rowers wearing scarves to guard against the spring chill. Cambridge were victors and lead from the start – the film shows the boats advancing towards a bridge, and also captures the victorious crew back on dry land with crowds of well-wishers. This was the last boat race until 1920 and four of the winning team would die in the coming war.

There were no boat races during the World War in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 & 1919.

George Drinkwater in "The Boat Race" says that forty two old blues lost their lives on active service during "the war to end all wars".

He calls it "the great catastrophe".

His book ended in 1938 with the pious hope that no such interruption to the annual event would ever occur again.
George died in an air raid in the Second World War, (that would be the one after "the War to end all Wars").

Don't human beings make you sick? But rowing is a small part of the antidote! Keep taking it!

In 1914 after seventy one boat races the overall tally was Oxford 39, Cambridge 31 (and one dead heat)
1913 marked the second equal highest peak of Oxford's leadership over Cambridge (39 to 30).
(The highest was in 1898: 32 to 22)

Leadership in Overall Tally of Boat Race Wins:

1829 - - - Cambridge - 1863 - - - - - - - - - - - Oxford - - - - - - - - - - 1914

Click for Hammersmith Bridge