The Boat Race is always umpired by an 'old Blue', with an ex-Oxford umpire alternating year-on-year with an ex-Cambridge umpire.

The rules of the Race are essentially very simple. The crews must keep to their stations (Middlesex or Surrey) unless they have a lead of "clear water" when, if they wish, they can use the opposite station.

The other rule of note is that both crews must row through the centre arches of Hammersmith and Barnes Bridges.

Both crews try to row the quickest line on the fastest water and they often come perilously close to each other.

The umpire tries to ensure neither crew commits a "foul" by warning them to keep to their own racing line. He has the authority to disqualify a crew, though this has only happened once in the modern era; in the Isis/Goldie Race of 1990, when the umpire was John Garrett.

Following the controversial 2001 Boat Race, where Umpire Rupert Obholzer stopped and restarted the Race following a clash of blades, an umpires' panel was established consisting of four umpires from each university, chaired by a senior umpire. The panel shares experiences and pools expertise and has initiated the assistant and reserve umpires for the Races.


Chair: Boris Rankov

The Women’s Boat Race Umpire: Sir Matthew Pinsent
The Women’s Boat Race Assistant Umpire: Clare Briegal
The Women’s Boat Race Reserve Umpire: Judith Packer

The Men’s Boat Race Umpire: John Garrett
The Men’s Boat Race Assistant Umpire: Caroline Smith
The Men’s Boat Race Reserve Umpire: Tony Reynolds

Isis Goldie Boat Race Umpire: Richard Phelps
Isis Goldie Boat Race Assistant Umpire: Kath Finucane
Isis Goldie Boat Race Reserve Umpire: Simon Harris

Osiris Blondie Boat Race Umpire: Matt Smith
Osiris Blondie Boat Race Assistant Umpire: Kat Astley
Osiris Blondie Boat Race Reserve Umpire: Rob Clegg

Aligner: TBC
Finish Judge: Ben Kent