Worldsport

Oxford win Britain's greatest grudge match

Updated 11:19 AM ET, Mon April 1, 2013
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Each year, rowers from Oxford and Cambridge University go head-to-head on the River Thames. But is the prestigious battle a vulgar display of elitism or the ultimate meritocracy? Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
This time last year, anti-elitism protester Trenton Oldfield brought the race to a standstill after plunging between the boats. He served seven weeks in prison for the stunt. Ricahrd Heathcote/Getty Images/File
The British Royal Marines (pictured delivering the trophy) weren't taking any chances this year, patrolling the course armed with thermal imaging equipment. Adrian Dennis/Getty Images
Compared to 2012, it was smooth sailing at Sunday's race -- or "fantastically boring" according to Telegraph journalist Tom Chivers -- with Oxford winning by a length-and-a-half. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Elitist? Far from it, said Cambridge University Boat Club president, George Nash, who called it the "ultimate meritocracy." Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Thousands of onlookers turned up at the race, despite the freezing conditions. They were well-catered for, with wild boar sausage stalls and champagne-sponsored soirees lining the river bank. Clive Rose/Getty Images
For the rowers, a grueling training regime begins in September. "You just have to make time for studying in between meetings," Nash said. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images/File
"The boat race isn't a race to lose -- you spend six months of your life training for it and to come second on the day is devastating," said former Oxford rower and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Matthew Pinsent, pictured front. "But to win, is magical." Shaun Botterilla/Getty Images/File
Winning Oxford cox, Oskar Zorrilla, is thrown in the water after the race, as is tradition. Zorrilla caused controversy after he was heard loudly swearing during the competition. Clive Rose/Getty Images
Only one tie has ever occurred in the 184-year-history of the race, when judge 'Honest John' Phelps reportedly announcing it was a "dead heat to Oxford by five feet," in 1877. The umpire later recorded the race as simply a dead heat. Hulton Archive/Getty Images/File
It's not just males who take part. The women's boat race was first launched in 1927, with the Oxford ladies also emerging victorious this year. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images