Varsity   Match   History

Photo of mixed Varsity Trophy
Yule Oldham Open (Varsity) Trophy

Early Oxford Cambridge Sailing Varsity Match History

This page presents a complete set of Oxford Cambridge sailing 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 Oxford Cambridge sailing Varsity Match took place 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 Oxford Cambridge sailing Varsity Match history includes the first (1912) result.

Later Oxford Cambridge Sailing 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 (Wiki link) Cup for the Open 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 Womens Match in 1958, with Full Blues awarded from 1961 until 1979. From 1980 Half Blues were awarded to women who sailed in the Open Match or Womens Match, with Full Blues for good BUSA performance. The current Cambridge criteria are published on the CUCrC website. Oxford criteria are not available online.

Open Team History

The first open or mixed Varsity Match team was 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 ‘teams open to both sexes’ 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 woman to do so). The following year (2001) Ari Liddell (New Hall/Murray Edwards, Cambridge Women’s Captain in 1999/2000) became the first Cambridge woman helm – Cambridge won again. Eddie Glennie (Caius) was the first woman Cambridge (Open) Team Captain in 2008/09 – Oxford won.

Photo of ladies Varsity Trophy
O&CSS 75th Anniversary Ladies (Varsity) Plate

History of Womens Sailing Varsity Match

The Womens 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 locations, the last ‘separate’ match being sailed at Farmoor in 1992. The date of the first Womens Match, which Cambridge won, appears to have been 1958, and it was sailed at Oxford in flood conditions.

First Womens Sailing Varsity 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 Womens Team were thrilled to be awarded Half Blues – a much nicer and more valued scarf than my Hockey Blue.

The current trophy for the Womens Varsity Match, the O&CSS 75th Anniversary Ladies Plate, 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: Open Varsity Teams and Womens Varsity Teams. There is currently no online list of Oxford teams.

Analysis of Results to Date

In Varsity Match history so far Cambridge has won 61 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. High-points scoring was used until the 1970’s, with a ¼ point bonus for 1st place – hence the appearance of fractional scores in the results below. (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 un-seamanlike 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 Women’s 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

(As well as detailing historic results, the table below shows the place, date, and boats proposed for the next few matches – with the organising University also indicated under Year)

Year Open Winner Score Women’s Winner Score Place (From 1958 to 1992 the Women’s match alternated between Oxford and Cambridge locations)
2023 (C) Island SC in Sonars
2022 Cambridge 4-3 Oxford 4-1 Royal Harwich YC
2021 Cambridge 4-3 Oxford 4-2 Oxford SC in Fireflies due to COVID (Open 1st & 2nd strings were separate six-person teams)
2020 Cambridge 8-3 Oxford 4-1 Oxford SC in Fireflies due to COVID (Open 1st & 2nd strings were separate six-person teams)
2019 Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge 4-0 Aldeburgh YC
2018 Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge 4-1 Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy
2017 (100th Match) Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge 4-1 Itchenor SC (60th Womens Match)
2016 Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge 4-3 Royal Southern YC
2015 Cambridge 4-0 Oxford 4-3 Strangford Lough YC, N Ireland
2014 Cambridge 4-1 Cambridge 4-0 Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes
2013 Cambridge 4-1½ Oxford 4-3 Aldeburgh YC
2012 Oxford 4-1 Oxford 4-1 Itchenor SC
2011 Oxford 2-1 Oxford 2-1 Hayling Island SC
2010 Cambridge 4-2 Oxford 4-0 Royal Lymington YC
2009 Oxford 4-2 Oxford 4-0 Itchenor
2008 Oxford 3-1 Cambridge 1-0 Cowes
2007 Cambridge 4-1 Oxford 4-0 Cowes (50th Womens Match)
2006 Cambridge 4-2 Oxford 4-0 West Kirby
2005 Cambridge 4-2 Oxford Cowes
2004 Cambridge 4-1 Hamble
2003 Oxford 4-3 Cowes
2002 Cambridge 4-2 Hamble
2001 Cambridge 4-1 Aldeburgh
2000 Cambridge 4-1 Salcombe (Agreed open teams start)
1999 Cambridge 4-3 Aldeburgh
1998 Cambridge 4-0 Oxford Poole
1997 Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge Itchenor
1996 Oxford 4-1 Cambridge 4-1 St Mawes
1995 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge 4-2 Woolverstone – Womens keel boat matches start
1994 Cambridge 4-3 Cambridge Yarmouth
1993 Oxford 4-2 Cambridge Itchenor (Womens join men – in dinghies)
1992 (75th Match) Cambridge 4-3 Cambridge Woolverstone
1991 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge 3-0 Itchenor
1990 Oxford 4-1 Cambridge Cowes (Cambridge men had 1 woman crew)
1989 Oxford 4-2 Bembridge
1988 Cambridge 4-1 Cowes
1987 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge Cowes
1986 Cambridge 4-1 Cambridge 4-0 Aldeburgh
1985 Cambridge 4-0 Cambridge Oulton Broad
1984 Cambridge 4-1 Cambridge Aldeburgh (Cambridge men had 1 woman crew)
1983 Oxford 4-1 Oxford Cowes
1982 Oxford 4-2 Oxford 4-1 Abersoch (25th Womens Match)
1981 Cambridge 4-1 Oxford 4-0 Strangford Lough YC, N Ireland
1980 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge 4-0 West Kirby
1979 Cambridge 4-0 Oxford 4-1 Beaumaris
1978 Cambridge 4-2 Oxford 4-2 Bridlington (Nine man teams start)
1977 Cambridge 4-2 Tie 1-1 Portsmouth
1976 Oxford 4-3 Cambridge 1-0 Lymington
1975 Oxford 4-3 Cambridge 3-1 Beaumaris
1974 Oxford 4-3 Oxford Hayling Island
1973 Oxford 4-3 Cambridge 2-0 Burnham-on-Crouch
1972 Oxford 4-1 Bembridge
1971 Cambridge 4-3 Oxford Lowestoft
1970 Tie 3-3 Dun Laoghaire
1969 Cambridge 4-3 Southsea
1968 Oxford 4-3 Parkstone
1967 (50th Match) Oxford 4-2 Dun Laoghaire
1966 Oxford 4-1 Oxford Seaview
1965 Oxford 4-1 Cambridge Beaumaris
1964 Oxford 4-1 Cambridge 93¾-93½ Upnor
1963 Cambridge 4-1 Parkstone
1962 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge Seaview
1961 Cambridge 4-2 Cambridge Rhu, Gareloch
1960 Cambridge 118-106½ Cambridge Bembridge
1959 Oxford 122-108½ Cambridge Burnham-on-Crouch
1958 Cambridge 105¼-89 Cambridge Cowes (1st Womens Match – at Oxford)
1957 Oxford 124¼-104¼ Lowestoft
1956 Cambridge 121-113½ Bembridge
1955 Cambridge 122-113½ Falmouth
1954 Oxford 120-115½ Dun Laoghaire
1953 Oxford 64-61½ Warsash
1952 Cambridge 65-57½ Burnham-on-Crouch
1951 Oxford 63½-62½ Seaview
1950 Cambridge 63-55½ Poole
1949 Oxford 69-57½ Woolverstone
1948 Cambridge 64-57½ Lowestoft (Nine-man teams)
1947 Oxford 43½-40½ Poole
1946 Oxford 43¼-40¾ West Mersea
1945 Tie 21½-21½ Ranelagh (Putney)
1944 Oxford 23½-19 Ranelagh (Putney)
1943 Oxford 22¼-20¼ Ranelagh (Putney)
1942 (25th Match) Cambridge 12½-8 Ranelagh (Putney, two-boat teams)
1941 Oxford 19½-9¼ Shiplake (Henley)
1940 No match World War II
1939 Cambridge 36-23½ Falmouth
1938 Cambridge 43½-40½ West Mersea
1937 Oxford 45¾-35¼ Bembridge
1936 Oxford 42-39 Southsea
1935 Cambridge 43-42 Hythe
1934 Tie 41-41 Cowes
1933 Cambridge 43-40 Lowestoft
1932 Cambridge 32-26 Burnham-on-Crouch
1931 Cambridge 30-28 Ryde
1930 Cambridge 45-38 Oulton Broad & Lowestoft (Three boat teams from here on)
1929 Cambridge 18-15 Lymington
1928 Cambridge 38½-25½ Weymouth
1927 Tie 38-38 Oulton Broad & Aldeburgh
1926 Oxford 37-29 Oulton Broad & Lowestoft
1925 Cambridge 36-19 Oulton Broad & Lowestoft
1924 Cambridge 27-34 Burnham-on-Crouch
1923 Oxford 32-31 Burnham-on-Crouch
1922 Oxford 12-9 Hythe
1921 Oxford 12-9 Hythe
1920 Oxford 15-12 Oulton Broad
1919 No match World War I aftermath
1918 No match World War I
1917 No match World War I
1916 No match World War I
1915 No match World War I
1914 Cambridge 2-1 Ely (Two or three boat teams from here on)
1913 Oxford 2-1 Oxford (Two boat team racing)
1912 Cambridge 2-1 Ely (Three match races)