It is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Gemini Boat Race 2021. It is also a particular pleasure to welcome Gemini as our new Principal Partner. We are extremely grateful for their support and I very much hope this partnership will prove to be long and successful for both Gemini and The Boat Race. I would also like to thank our Partners Chapel Down, Wainwright Golden Beer, PlayerLayer and the BBC.
The Gemini Boat Race 2021 will mark the 75th women’s race and the 166th men’s race and will be one of the first major UK sporting events to take place in 2021 outside a closed stadium, albeit with no spectators. Both races will be umpired by women for the very first time. Sarah Winckless MBE will umpire the men’s race and Judith Packer will umpire the women’s race.
The reserve crew races – Osiris vs Blondie and Isis vs Goldie – would normally take place on the same day as the Blue Boat races. This cannot happen this year, but we hope these races will take place later in the summer.
The Boat Race requires its athletes to undertake hundreds of hours of intensive training. I doubt there has ever been a Boat Race season where the crews have been more rigorously tested, in more ways than one. The athletes have had to train on land for prolonged periods of time, and training time on the water has been heavily curtailed.
I would like to acknowledge the crews of 2020 who undertook all the training but never got their Boat Race –a profound personal tragedy for each athlete. Although many of the 2020 athletes are returning to race this year, not all are, and I would like to pay tribute to those who were not able to return. The loss of the 2020 race was particularly tough on them.
Covid-19 has made the preparation for The Gemini Boat Race 2021 exceptionally complicated, requiring the support of many organisations and individuals. I would like to thank East Cambridgeshire District Council and all the members of their Safety Advisory Group, and the local community, for welcoming us to Ely and helping us to ensure the delivery of a safe event. Thank you also to British Rowing for supporting the athletes’ return to training.
I would like to thank my fellow board members who have worked tirelessly to secure this year’s Boat Race, as well as the other volunteers who are part of The Boat Race family. The Boat Race has always relied upon the support, goodwill and understanding of so many, but never more so than this year.
Finally, after 12 years as Director of Operations, David Searle has decided to retire after this year’s Boat Race. Few people can have contributed more to The Boat Race than David. It has been a great personal pleasure and privilege to work with him.
I hope you enjoy The Gemini Boat Race 2021.
Please remember to ‘Stay safe, stay away, watch The Gemini Boat Race 2021 live on the BBC’.
Robert Gillespie Chairman of the Boat Race Company