Cambridge, Oxford And A Race For Water Supremacy

Saturday was the annual showdown between Cambridge and Oxford universities on the River Thames. Vicki Barker has the results from the historic boat race.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The annual Oxford-Cambridge University boat race took place in London yesterday. And reporter Vicki Barker was one of those throwing a party along the race route. For boat race party-throwers and the oarsmen themselves, the day unfolds with military precision - or at least it's supposed to. Vicki Barker has more.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The man duck saw that something needed to be done...

VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: Kitchen, 11 A.M.: boat race minus three hours and fifteen minutes. Preparations begin. Right, tea sandwich - white bread that you've taken a rolling pin to so it gets thinned a little bit. Butter. Apply smoked salmon. Scissor or tear some dill. Slice off the crusts. Make two diagonal slices to make four tea sandwiches. Done. 11:45 A.M.:

(SOUNDBITE OF ICE BEING POURED INTO BUCKET)

BARKER: Ice poured into ice buckets. 1:05 P.M.: guests arrive.

CHARLES KINGSMILL: My name is Charles, Charles Kingsmill. Lovely to be here at this lovely party to celebrate the forthcoming victory by Oxford this afternoon in the boat race.

JANE: I'm Jane, and clearly Cambridge is going to win.

BARKER: I see. So, this is one of those mixed marriages.

JANE: Yes, yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Go.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: And the 158th boat race is underway.

BARKER: 2:15 p.m.: Zero hour. Guests run out into the riverside garden as the boats, led by Oxford, surge by.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE CHEERING)

BARKER: Then run back to watch the rest on TV. But the race has been stopped.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Because somebody swam across the river to stop the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: What?

BARKER: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: This is unheard of. Shocking stuff.

BARKER: The aquatic protester removed, the race eventually restarts, then...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Oh, he's lost an oar.

BARKER: ...disaster for the Oxford men, as the umpire refuses to halt the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: It's victory for Cambridge. Victory...

BARKER: Oxford's ordeal isn't over yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Some guy just went unconscious in the back of the boat and then they lifted him out (unintelligible).

BARKER: 4:00 P.M.: the ailing Oxford oarsman is held for observation overnight. The post-race award ceremony is cancelled and party guest Patrick Howse is philosophical about the chaos that's come to a British sporting icon.

PATRICK HOWSE: I think we just sort of accept this sort of thing as an inevitable consequence of being English, really.

BARKER: Or, as the English are fond of saying: mustn't grumble.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORK POPPING)

BARKER: For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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