Varsity Match History

Photo of mixed Varsity trophy - a silver cup - for varsity match history
Yule Oldham Mixed (Varsity) Trophy

Early Varsity Match History

This page presents a complete set of Varsity Match history results. Cambridge rejected an 1898 challenge by Oxford because: “the Club (CUCrC) has no suitable boats to sail in such a match and, from its lists, it seems that the OUYC is not entirely a University Club”. The first Varsity Match was sailed in 1912, after Cambridge sentiment changed in 1910. It took the form of three match races – with a different helm in each of the three races and one of the other two helms crewing. True team racing took place the following year (1913) and thereafter. For convenience, this ‘main’ sequence of Varsity Match history includes the first (1912) result.

Later Varsity Match History

The First World War interrupted the series from 1915 to 1919, and the 1940 Match planned for Oulton Broad was cancelled due to the Second World War. A clip of the 1928 Match at Weymouth is the first item on the Video History page of this website. The Yule Oldham Cup for the Mixed Varsity Match dates from 1928, because the previous (Spender) cup had been lost. Often dinghies and sometimes two boats a side were used in the early matches, until the mid-1930’s. Since that time, apart from World War II, the match has been three boats a side at a coastal location. The match has been in keel boats consistently since the 1950’s, and nine-man teams started in 1978.

Blues Status

Half Blues were first awarded to the teams in 1937 (Cambridge) and 1949 (Oxford). Half Blue sweaters did not make their appearance until 1947. Full Blues were awarded, subject to good BUSA performance, from 1967 (Oxford – 2), 1974 (Oxford – up to 6), 1977 (Cambridge – 2), 1978 (Cambridge – 3), and 1982 (Cambridge – up to 6). Half Blues were first awarded for the Ladies’ Match in 1958, with Full Blues awarded from 1961 until 1979. From 1980 Half Blues were awarded to ladies who sailed in the Main (mixed) Match or Ladies Match, with Full Blues for good BUSA performance. The current Cambridge criteria are published on the CUCrC website. Oxford criteria are not available online.

Photo of ladies varsity trophy - a silver salver - for varsity match history
O&CSS 75th Anniversary Ladies (Varsity) Salver

Mixed Team History

The first ‘mixed team’ in Varsity Match history sailed in 1984, when Julian Ellwood (Trinity) invited Jenny Pocock (Emmanuel) to crew (Cambridge won). The same thing happened in 1990 when Ian Walker (Downing) invited Liz Walker (New Hall/Murray Edwards – no relation!) to crew (Oxford won). However, the first mutually agreed ‘both teams mixed’ match, which Cambridge won, was not sailed until 2000. In that year Erin Delaney (Wolfson) and Becca O’Brien (Queens) crewed for Cambridge, and Nicole Johnson (St Edmund Hall) captained and helmed for Oxford (the first lady to do so). The following year (2001) Ari Liddell (New Hall/Murray Edwards, Cambridge Ladies Captain in 1999/2000) became the first Cambridge lady helm (Cambridge won again). Eddie Glennie (Caius) was the first lady Cambridge (Mixed) Team Captain in 2008/09 (Oxford won).

History of Ladies Match

The Ladies Match has been sailed as three-keel-boats-a-side since 2017 (with the option to default to two-a-side in a ‘lean’ year), and as two-keel-boats-a-side from 1995 to 2016. In previous Varsity Match history it had been sailed three-dinghies-a-side, but only took place at the same venue as the main match from 1993 onwards. Before 1993 the match alternated between Oxford and Cambridge, the last ‘separate’ match being sailed at Farmoor in 1992. The date of the first Ladies Match, which Cambridge won, appears to have been 1958, and it was sailed at Oxford in flood conditions.

First Ladies Match

Captain Hilary Fischer-Webb (now Weeks) reports:

Somehow I and my crew (Norma Bassett) managed to sail, unknowingly, into a neighbouring flooded field. This was brought to our notice when we hit the hedge trying to beat back across the river! Eventually we realised what had happened and had another go with a raised centreboard. This was successful, but we had been swept downstream and were perilously close to the roaring weir … Never have I been in so much fear of losing my ‘vessel’ and our presumably brilliant short tacking back to the mark beside the submerged hedge I cannot remember at all! Nor do I remember who won (Cambridge did – Ed). However the maiden Ladies Team were thrilled to be awarded Half Blues – a much nicer and more valued scarf than my Hockey Blue.

The current trophy for the Ladies Varsity Match, the O&CSS 75th Anniversary Ladies Salver, was presented by the Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society on the occasion of the Society’s 75th Anniversary in 2009 – previously there had been only a very small EPNS trophy.

Cambridge Team Lists

An historic list of Cambridge teams is maintained on the CUCrC website: Mixed teams and Ladies teams. There is currently no online list of Oxford teams.

Analysis of Results to Date

In Varsity Match history so far Cambridge has won 57 matches; Oxford 40; and 4 matches have been tied. Early ties resulted from the pre-1961 tradition of adding points up across races rather than scoring races won. (The famous 1970 tie in Dun Laoghaire happened because boisterous conditions prevailed for the sixth race, with Oxford leading 3-2 overall. Oxford initiated some aggressive and rather unseamanlike sailing at the 5-minute gun, only three boats finished the race, and Cambridge won on protests. In consultation with nervous Glen OD owners, the Royal St George YC Vice Commodore decided that the 7th race would not be sailed, so the match ended in a 3-all tie.) The numbering of the Ladies Match (in the ‘Place’ column) assumes that the match has taken place every year since the first match in 1958 – there are significant gaps in the records. All the years listed below are calendar years.

Result Details

YearWinnerScoreLadies WinnerScorePlace (From 1958 to 1992 the Ladies match alternated between Oxford and Cambridge)
2019 (102nd Match)
2018Cambridge4-0Cambridge4-1Weymouth & Portland
2017 (100th Match)Cambridge4-0Cambridge4-1Itchenor (60th Ladies Match)
2016Cambridge4-0Cambridge4-3Hamble
2015Cambridge4-0Oxford4-3Strangford Lough YC, N Ireland
2014Cambridge   4-1Cambridge4-0Cowes
2013Cambridge4-1½Oxford4-3Aldeburgh
2012Oxford4-1Oxford4-1Itchenor
2011Oxford2-1Oxford2-1Hayling Island
2010Cambridge4-2Oxford4-0Lymington
2009Oxford4-2Oxford4-0Itchenor
2008Oxford3-1Cambridge1-0Cowes
2007Cambridge4-1Oxford4-0Cowes (50th Ladies Match)
2006Cambridge4-2Oxford4-0West Kirby
2005Cambridge4-2OxfordCowes
2004Cambridge4-1Hamble
2003Oxford4-3Cowes
2002Cambridge4-2Hamble
2001Cambridge4-1Aldeburgh
2000Cambridge4-1Salcombe (Agreed mixed teams start)
1999Cambridge4-3Aldeburgh
1998Cambridge4-0OxfordPoole
1997Cambridge4-0CambridgeItchenor
1996Oxford4-1Cambridge4-1St Mawes
1995Cambridge4-2Cambridge4-2Harwich (Ladies keel boat matches start)
1994Cambridge4-3CambridgeYarmouth
1993Oxford4-2CambridgeItchenor (Ladies join men – in dinghies)
1992 (75th Match)Cambridge4-3CambridgeHarwich
1991Cambridge4-2Cambridge3-0Itchenor
1990Oxford4-1CambridgeCowes (Cambridge men had 1 lady crew)
1989Oxford4-2Bembridge
1988Cambridge4-1Cowes
1987Cambridge4-2Cowes
1986Cambridge4-1Cambridge4-0Aldeburgh
1985Cambridge4-0CambridgeOulton Broad
1984Cambridge4-1CambridgeAldeburgh (Cambridge men had 1 lady crew)
1983Oxford4-1OxfordCowes
1982Oxford4-2Oxford4-1Abersoch (25th Ladies Match)
1981Cambridge4-1Oxford4-0Whiterock, Strangford Lough
1980Cambridge4-2Cambridge4-0West Kirby
1979Cambridge4-0Oxford4-1Beaumaris
1978Cambridge4-2Oxford4-2Bridlington (Nine man teams start)
1977Cambridge4-2Tie1-1Portsmouth
1976Oxford4-3Cambridge1-0Lymington
1975Oxford4-3Cambridge3-1Beaumaris
1974Oxford4-3OxfordHayling Island
1973Oxford4-3Cambridge2-0Burnham-on-Crouch
1972Oxford4-1Bembridge
1971Cambridge4-3OxfordLowestoft
1970Tie3-3Dun Laoghaire
1969Cambridge4-3Southsea
1968Oxford4-3Parkstone
1967 (50th Match)Oxford4-2Dun Laoghaire
1966Oxford4-1Seaview
1965Oxford4-1Beaumaris
1964Oxford4-1Upnor
1963Cambridge4-1Parkstone
1962Cambridge4-2CambridgeSeaview
1961Cambridge4-2CambridgeRhu, Gareloch
1960Cambridge118-106½CambridgeBembridge
1959Oxford122-108½CambridgeBurnham-on-Crouch
1958Cambridge105¼-89CambridgeCowes (1st Ladies Match – at Oxford)
1957Oxford124¼-104¼Lowestoft
1956Cambridge121-113½Bembridge
1955Cambridge122-113½Falmouth
1954Oxford120-115½Dun Laoghaire
1953Oxford64-61½Warsash
1952Cambridge65-57½Burnham-on-Crouch
1951Oxford63½-62½Seaview
1950Cambridge63-55½Poole
1949Oxford69-57½Wolverstone
1948Cambridge64-57½Lowestoft (Nine-man teams)
1947Oxford43½-40½Poole
1946Oxford43¼-40¾West Mersea
1945Tie21½-21½Ranelagh (Putney)
1944Oxford23½-19Ranelagh (Putney)
1943Oxford22¼-20¼Ranelagh (Putney)
1942 (25th Match)Cambridge12½-8Ranelagh (Putney, two boat teams)
1941Oxford19½-9¼Shiplake (Henley)
1940No matchWorld War II
1939Cambridge36-23½Falmouth
1938Cambridge43½-40½West Mersea
1937Oxford45¾-35¼Bembridge
1936Oxford42-39Southsea
1935Cambridge43-42Hythe
1934Tie41-41Cowes
1933Cambridge43-40Lowestoft
1932Cambridge32-26Burnham-on-Crouch
1931Cambridge30-28Ryde
1930Cambridge45-38Oulton Broad & Lowestoft (Three boat teams from here on)
1929Cambridge18-15Lymington
1928Cambridge38½-25½Weymouth
1927Tie38-38Oulton Broad & Aldeburgh
1926Oxford37-29Oulton Broad & Lowestoft
1925Cambridge36-19Oulton Broad & Lowestoft
1924Cambridge27-34Burnham-on-Crouch
1923Oxford32-31Burnham-on-Crouch
1922Oxford12-9Hythe
1921Oxford12-9Hythe
1920Oxford15-12Oulton Broad
1919No matchWorld War I aftermath
1918No matchWorld War I
1917No matchWorld War I
1916No matchWorld War I
1915No matchWorld War I
1914Cambridge2-1Ely (Two or three boat teams from here on)
1913Oxford2-1Oxford (Two boat team racing)
1912Cambridge2-1Ely (Three match races)