Today, we’re diving into the thrilling world of rowing, a sport close to my heart and ignited by the iconic Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. Join me as we uncover the remarkable qualities this sport can instil in our children, all while bonding as a family over the excitement of the race.

Unveiling the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

Background of Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race: To me the Boat Race brings up images of the banks of the River Thames buzzing with excitement as spectators gather to witness the clash between the dark blue of Oxford and the light blue of Cambridge. Plenty of Pimms’ glasses can be seen, bubbles flowing in flutes not just the river and yet it is still very much a family friendly event.

For over a century, this historic rivalry has captured the hearts of millions, showcasing not just elite physical prowess of the team but also the power of teamwork, resilience, and sportsmanship. There is also a ton of psychology in rowing as well, which is probably one of the reasons I loved being a coxswain when I was at Oxford. However, I was only 17 when I started and didn’t really realise how much effect sports psychology had in winning the race until much later in my 20’s when I swapped sides and coxed for a Cambridge college and started writing about the different personalities in the boat and how visualisation can help you win a race.

Life Lessons From The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

However, I digress, let’s get back into the lessons we can glean from the epic showdown that is the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race:

Synchronicity: Rowing is more than just pulling oars; it’s about moving as one cohesive unit. Similarly, family life can be likened to a rowing crew, gliding across the water in perfect harmony. Encouraging our children to listen to one another, follow the rhythm, and move forward together towards shared goals creates a sense of unity and cooperation.

Pushing Through the Pain Barrier: As the race intensifies and exhaustion sets in, it’s crucial that the rowers know that they will have to push through the pain to win and that they have it in them to persevere through the discomfort. Likewise we can teach our children the art of pushing through the metaphorical pain barrier by preparing them with resilience and determination. In life, challenges arise, but it’s those who push through adversity that emerge victorious in the end.

Turning the Tide: Sometimes, in the race it feels like we’re trailing behind, struggling to keep up with the competition and giving up can feel like the most obvious thing to do as the race almost feels already lost. However, there have been many dark horse comebacks in rowing, it is one of the reasons it is so fascinating to watch. Whether the rower catches a crab (i.e the oar gets stuck in the water – there isn’t a real crab!) or the team gets tired – there are very possible reasons that the other side can slow down giving the team behind the chance to gain victory. Whether facing setbacks in the race or in life, teaching our children to dig deep, summon their inner strength, do a rowing power ten and propel themselves forward can lead to unexpected victories.


Losing Graciously and Celebrating Being Chosen: While victory is sweet, there’s immense value in losing graciously and being proud of the journey itself. Reminding our children that merely participating in a prestigious event like the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is a testament to their dedication and skill instills resilience and sportsmanship. Win or lose, they are champions in their own right.

Embracing Personal Passion: Sharing our own experiences and passions, whether in rowing or other pursuits, can ignite a spark of curiosity and enthusiasm in our children. Using the race as a springboard to explore their interests and aspirations encourages them to pursue their passions with zeal and determination. Use the race as a stepping stone to finding out what they may really want to pursue at. a top level.

CBK Activity Suggestion

As an activity, imagine you and your family are in a boat, rowing towards a shared destination. Each oar represents a family member, and together, you move as one, listening to each other and working towards your dreams. Engage your children in this imaginative exercise and discuss how your family can row together towards your goals.

Family Time Incorporating The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

If rowing isn’t your thing, you can still have a lot of fun incorporating it into your weekend. 3 ideas to do with your family include.



Rowing Watch Party: Host a rowing watch party, either in London or from the comfort of your living room. Deck out in your chosen team’s colours (dark blue or light blue), and get ready to cheer your hearts out!

Family Indoor Rowing: After the race, keep the fun going with bonding games inspired by rowing. Set up an indoor rowing competition using chairs and broomsticks, or engage in teamwork challenges that promote synchronicity and communication.

Family Rowing Adventure: Plan a family outing to a nearby river or lake for a day of rowing. Other choices could include punting or pedalos. Whether it’s renting a boat or joining a guided tour, immerse yourselves in the thrill of rowing together as a family, creating cherished memories along the way

Where To Have A Family Boating Adventure

If you’re looking for a memorable family day out, there are plenty of opportunities to rent boats, hire pedalos, or simply enjoy the tranquility of the water in the UK. Here are our top five picks:

  1. Hyde Park, London: The Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park has stunning views of lush greenery and iconic landmarks, it’s the perfect way to unwind and reconnect with nature in the heart of London.
  2. Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire: After a thrilling day exploring the safari park and encountering amazing wildlife, why not relax with a pedal boat ride on the picturesque lake? Don’t worry the crocodiles are not housed there!
  3. Oxford and Cambridge: Both historic cities are beautiful and punting is very popular. Glide past the famous colleges and perhaps inspire your little ones to think about whether they would like to be at a University that has such history, it is never too early to get brilliant children thinking about options.
  4. Lake District, Cumbria: Immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of the Lake District whether you choose Windermere, Coniston Water, or Derwentwater you will have a choice of breathtaking views.
  5. Center Parcs: For a family-friendly getaway, with a variety of water activities on their tranquil lakes, it’s the perfect way to add some outdoor fun to your holiday.

So pack a picnic, grab your paddles, and embark on a day of adventure on the water with your loved ones!

If you want to explore more ways to nurture brilliance in your little ones, visit for resources, tips, and inspiration.

Facts About This Year’s Boat Race

The 2024 edition of The Gemini Boat Race, will be held on Saturday 30th March 2024. The race will be live on BBC One, streamed online and broadcast worldwide, and show the 78th Women’s Race and 169th Men’s Race. The Boat Race has no silver and bronze medals, it’s a fierce side by side contest and every year, the dial resets. On the 30th March you can also catch the 49th Osiris-Blondie Race and 59th Isis-Goldie Race.

The Gemini Boat Race is one of the most prestigious events in the UK sporting calendar, with Light and Dark Blue crews Oxford and Cambridge Universities competing in a 4.2-mile side-by-side race along The Championship Course.