Watching the Race
A public towpath runs the length of the course, so there is no shortage of good vantage points for cheering your crew on to victory. However, bear in mind that the race lasts approximately 2 hours from when the first crew passes the start to when the last crosses the finish. You may prefer to watch from a rowing club (most will have some food and/or drink available to the public) or a local restaurant or pub. Read more about viewing locations below.
As the race is run on a section of the tidal Thames, coxes aim to steer ‘the racing line,’ which places them in the fastest water (in ‘the stream’). Depending on the strength of the stream on the day, the fastest crew may take between 18 and 22 minutes to complete the course.
Taking into account the 10-second starting gap between crews, we can get a rough estimate of when crews will pass through certain points.
Timings for 2023
|Crew No||Start time||Barnes Bridge||Hammersmith Bridge||Finish|
NB: These times are approximations only for the next scheduled race. River conditions and other variables will affect actual boat speed.
The best views of the race for spectators are generally either from Hammersmith Bridge or along Putney Embankment (south side of the river) given their proximity to restaurants and pubs. Barnes Bridge also has a footbridge and the flood wall along Lonsdale Road keeps the pavement dry at even the highest of tides.
When deciding on the optimum viewing location, it is worth remembering that it can take some time to travel between the start and finish of the course (there is no direct public transport between the two). You should consider where the crew that you are supporting is boating from and choose your vantage point accordingly.
Spectators will congregate on the bridge, clustering around the famous ‘second lamp-post’ from the Surrey (south) side of the river, which marks the point where the coxes should be aiming their crews as they pass underneath. Many people arrive early in order to get one of the prime positions, so be prepared for a reasonable wait if you want to be right above the racing line. Alternatively, keep yourself warm in one of the pubs on the northern bank and join the crowds as the crews start to row past.
The home to a fair number of tideway clubs, sees Putney Embankment as a hive of activity on race day. With lots of visiting crews choosing to boat from here, the embankment bustles with kit and food stalls. Many of the rowers will retire to either one of the rowing clubs’ bars or one of the nearby pubs after the race. Putney embankment offers a clear view of the last two minutes of the race as the crews sprint for the line. And, for spectators at the 2018 race, shops, bars and restaurants near the river have arranged some special offers – click here to find out more.
Eating & Drinking along the course
View Women’s Head: Eating & Drinking in a larger map
See our Travel Information page for more information on planning your journey.