The 2018 Boat Race

You have got to love the annual Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race.

It’s one of Britain’s finest upper-class institutions, right up there with the handlebar moustache, straw boaters, polo and fox hunting. Its staunchest supporters have enough funds to finance the debt of a small South American country but the prospect of staking a £5 bet repulses them in the same way a Pimm’s and Summer Fruit would offend a dole claiming Weatherspoons diehard.

The Boat Race’ principle partner is BNY Mellon – reportedly after Cash Converters bid was rejected. These are a smart multinational banking and financial service company who were bailed out by the American tax payer to the tune of $3 billion after playing their part in creating the subprime mortgage crisis which ignited a world-wide recession.

Of course the Boat Race is one of the jewels in the BBC’s sporting crown. Oh the joy of watching two teams of people, who we don’t know, don’t want to know and cannot relate to, robotically row up the River Thames and then be interviewed by the girl next door, Clare Balding. That is, of course, if you live next door to a stately home.

Now the great thing about the audience not knowing the first thing about what they are watching, and those with some knowledge reluctant to buy as much as a Lotto ticket, is the betting opportunities. Unlike horseracing, where every punter and fan has an input into forming a betting market, the prices on offer on this annual spectacle can be massively out of line due to limited laws of supply and demand.

Oxford on the Formbook

Understandably the form of previous generations counts for little. With Oxford victorious in back-to-back years 2002/2003, 2005/2006, 2008/2009 along with triumphs in 2000, 2011, 2013/2014/2015 and last year, they are certainly the more successful crew in recent times.

However, they are also this year’s underdogs at 7/4. It’s a price that has drifted since Wednesday’s announcement that Joshua Bugajski, a veteran of three Boat Race campaigns, has been replaced by Benedict Aldous due to illness.

Cambridge ... But Not by Much

Cambridge has named a strong crew, with three returning oarsmen from last year’s crew including President Hugo Ramambason. James Letten, the tallest man to ever compete in the Men’s Boat Race joins him as does former Yale University Captain Robert Hurn. Hurn is actually British but four members of the Cambridge crew claim American nationality.

Tuesday’s Boat Race weigh-in sees the Cambridge rowers average at 89.8kg per-man, by far the heavier of the two crews, with Oxford weighing in at 85.6kg per-man. Cambridge are also the taller outfit, averaging 195cm per-man compared Oxford’s 189cm. This is the primary reason for them heading the betting.

Anyway, ‘hidden bogies’, factors such as a sinking boat, are as rare as a snowflake in summertime. That last happened in 1978. There has only been one dead-heat, that was in 1877 before photo-finish equipment. And, contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘bad draw’. Honours are almost equal when it comes to starting from the Surrey or Middlesex stations (which is decided by a coin toss).

It’s been 14 years since the Boat Race has been won by a margin of a length or less albeit three of the last ten Boat Races were won by a length-and-a-quarter or a length-and-a-third. But, with low winds and calm waters forecast for Saturday, it is unlikely we will see a 2014 (11 lengths) or 2015 (6½ length) type romp.

Based on this, take Cambridge winning by under three lengths at 7/4 with Ladbrokes.