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Putney Boat Race: Party On The River!

Putney Boat Race: Party On The River!

Putney Boat Race: Party On The River!

The Boat Race: The Best Places To Eat, Drink And Watch

The Putney Boat Race: The Best Places To Eat, Drink And Watch

On Boat Race day the Thames riverside becomes a cheerful, jostling mass of spectators, with diehard fans arriving from dawn to bag the best spots to watch.

The atmosphere in the streets will be vibrant. Positively Putney is laying on a street food festival with outside bars in the town’s Church Square, where Riverside Radio is running a live music stage with different acts until 6pm. Like last year, every Putney bar will be serving drinks in reuseable cups, saving an estimated 50,000 single use plastic cups. Town centre shops are joining in, with Boat Race window designs.

Alternatively, you can watch all the action from a riverside restaurant or pub. One of the best views is from Brasserie Blanc Fulham Reach, which will be installing big screens and hosting live music all afternoon for a party atmosphere. Specialities include home-cooked Sunday roasts with bottomless trimmings and secret recipe gravy. Michelinstarred chef Raymond Blanc told Time & Leisure that Fulham Reach is a personal favourite of the brasseries that bear his name: “So much so, I recently hosted my birthday party there for all my loved ones!” M. Blanc said. “I can’t think of a better place to watch this great British tradition.”

If you prefer pub food, The Bulls Head and White Hart in Barnes have upstairs dining on Boat Race day and are taking bookings.

Cognoscenti will be heading for Boma Bridge bar restaurant at 4 Putney High Street, which has a secret riverside garden with a direct view of the start line. Boma’s will be serving Boat Race Brunch, with live music from 3.30pm in the Tunnel Bar, and Happy Hour from 5pm as the last race ends.

The Duke’s Head gastropub on Putney’s Lower Richmond Road attracts a lively crowd with its fabulous views over the start, its DJ in the basement Rowing Club bar and its barbecued street food. There is a live band all afternoon, and the restaurant is cleared of tables to become a dance floor.

There are also a number of restaurants away from the jostle of the waterfront where you can retire for a meal and a drink; Yum-Sa near East Putney station opens at 12 noon serving delicious Thai brunch, lunch, tapas and dinner.

READ OUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO PUTNEY: What to see, where to go and the best pubs and restaurants timeandleisure.co.uk/putney

The Lowdown

The Boat Race is unpredictable because it is rowed on the tidal part of the Thames, as the incoming tide floods upstream. The women’s race was held above the reach of the tide at Henley, but since 2015 it has been raced on the four mile Championship Course in the tideway.

Boats have sunk five times over the 166-year history. The most recent was in 1978 when Oxford fitted splashboards after sinking in training, but the Cambridge boat did not – and promptly took on water and went down. In 1921, both boats sank.

Cambridge’s women’s crew is the first to leave their boathouse, at 2.59pm, followed by the other crews in strict order. Each boat warms up on the river below Putney bridge, until it is time for them to move to their stake boat for the start of their race.

The umpire will drop the red flag to start the women’s Boat Race at 3.44pm, while the men go at 4.44pm. Each race lasts around 20 minutes. The rules are that crews must keep to their side of the river unless they have a lead of “clear water”; and both crews must row through the centre arches of Hammersmith and Barnes bridges.