The Boat Race Fund, in collaboration with Fulham Reach Boat Club, proudly hosted the inaugural Youth Boat Race inspired by The Gemini Boat Race on Tuesday, 26th March, marking an expansion of The Gemini Boat Race festivities. This event saw 32 local students from seven local state schools take to the Thames, under the watchful eyes of official Gemini Boat Race umpires, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Judith Packer.

The event, funded by The Boat Race Fund and supported by the Oxford and Cambridge Rowing Foundation, aimed to immerse young rowers in the tradition of The Boat Race, providing them with a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of competitive rowing. Jonny Searle, Chairman of the Oxford and Cambridge Rowing Foundation, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “The event absolutely lived up to expectations…to see so many young people become part of the Gemini Boat Race family was really inspirational.”

The day began with a traditional umpires’ race briefing and coin toss, setting the stage for an exciting and educational experience. Despite challenges, such as an oar coming loose in the first race, the young rowers demonstrated resilience and teamwork, hallmarks of the sport of rowing.

Sir Matthew Pinsent highlighted the importance of such initiatives, stating, “The Youth Boat Race is a wonderful initiative bringing a new dynamic, a new population to rowing…it’s all about camaraderie, teamwork, and having fun.”

The Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Councillor Patricia Quigley, presented medals to all participants, celebrating their achievements and the successful integration of the Youth Boat Race into the local community. Adam Freeman-Pask, CEO of Fulham Reach Boat Club, praised the participants’ efforts, noting that “some rowers had only picked up an oar in the last six weeks…this will no doubt be a memorable and positive experience that will inspire them for years to come.”

The event concluded at Thames Rowing Club, where participants, family, supporters, and representatives from the sports sector gathered to celebrate the success and potential of youth rowing in London.

Siobhan Cassidy, Chair of the Boat Race Company Limited, reflected on the day’s success, stating, “the ambition was that The Youth Boat Race would inspire the young people competing and connect the Gemini Boat Race to the community in which it has lived for almost 200 years in a shared experience of race preparation and competition. It certainly achieved that.”

This inaugural Youth Boat Race not only provided a platform for young athletes to shine but also reinforced the enduring community spirit and sporting excellence that The Boat Race embodies. The Boat Race hoped more young people from the local communities surrounding the course, will engage with the event and even consider giving rowing a go at one of the rowing clubs based on The Championship Course.