Winckless the first woman to umpire men's Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

Sarah Winckless. Photo: Lucinda Douse Row 360.


Maidenhead’s Sarah Winckless became the first woman to umpire the men’s Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in the event’s 166-year history on Sunday.

Cambridge men’s and women’s crews secured a double win over Oxford in the event on the River Great Ouse.

Winckless, a former student at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, officiated the race, which was moved from its usual residence along the River Thames to Ely in Cambridgeshire for the first time since the Second World War due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She repeatedly warned Cambridge cox Charlie Marcus to alter his crew’s line as they drifted in from the right of the riverbank to the centre. There was also momentary concern when Winckless warned of reeds in the middle of the river, but both crews passed them without incident.

Cambridge men celebrated their third win in a row and a fourth in the last five events.

Winckless umpired the women’s Boat Race in 2017 and the men’s reserve race the previous year.

Speaking last year, before the cancellation of last year’s event, she said umpiring the event would be a ‘real honour and responsibility’.

The Maidenhead resident has competed in three Olympic Games and won a bronze medal in Athesn in 2004 with doubles partner Elise Laverick. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2015 for services to sport and young people.

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