Competitive Rowing Attracts Spectators
Amateurs took up competitive rowing in 1811, when students at Eton College (a boys' prep school) began rowing a ten-oared barge and the first recorded race between students took place in 1817.
Graduates of Eton went on to Oxford and Cambridge, where they organized college boat clubs. The Boat Race between Oxford University and Cambridge University first took place in 1829 and was the second intercollegiate sporting event in history (following the first varsity cricket match by two years). It began as a two mile competition – today it is four miles. The Boat Race on the River Thames in London, England continues to be a popular event.