Boat Race
University boat race crew can't find their cox

In today's University Boat Race, rowing crews from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge will take each other on for the 160th time in the famous race's history.

The four-mile (6.8km) course from Putney to Mortlake, along the river Thames in south-west London, is one of the oldest competitive sporting races in the world. It requires an immense amount of training and endurance – with some estimates that rowers complete about 600 strokes during gruelling training for every stroke they take during the race.

The rivalry between the two crews is fierce. As it stands Cambridge are four ahead, with 81 race wins to Oxford's 77. This year the Oxford crew is the odds-on bookies' favourite, thanks to its vastly more experienced crew. All eight are either former junior, national, Commonwealth or world champion rowers, and several competed in the 2012 London Olympics. In the Oxford crew, New Zealander Storm Uru and Brit Constantine Louloudise won bronze medals at the London Olympics and Canadian Malcolm Howard won a silver medal.

A dead heat is unlikely, according to the bookies, who are offering odds of around 150-1 against this happening. This has happened only once, in 1877.

Boat Race Facts

  • The current record is 16mins 19sec, set by Cambridge in 1998.
  • There have been six sinkings, most recently in 1984. But the race result has only been determined by a sinking three times: Cambridge twice (1859 and 1978) and Oxford once (1925).
  • In 2001 the race was controversially stopped just over a minute after the start for a clash of blades, for which Oxford was held responsible. Cambridge eventually won the restarted race.
  • In 2010 American twins Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss rowed in the losing Oxford crew. The pair are better known as the millionaires who sued Mark Zuckerberg for $65 million in damages after alleging the Facebook founder based his site on ConnectU, a social networking site the twins invented with fellow Harvard student Divya Narendra in 2004. They are now Bitcoin investors.
  • In 2012 Trenton Oldfield disrupted the race by swimming in between the boats in a protest against government cuts. The Australian was jailed for six months for causing a public nuisance.
  • This year the coxes – Laurence Harvey (Oxford) and Ian Middleton (Cambridge) are on average six inches shorter and 65 pounds lighter than the crews they are coxing.
  • The BBC has warned crews and coxes that they will be cut off from the live feed of the race if on-boat microphones pick up any swearing. Last year the BBC received complaints because of swearing heard during the race, and the communications regular Ofcom has ordered the BBC to take "all proportionate measures" to prevent any expletives during the broadcast.
  • The boat race begins on Sunday at 5.55pm BST and is broadcast live on BBC One in the UK.