Annual Boat Race

One of the major sporting events held in the UK each year is the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge universities for which due to their rivalry the bragging rights and prestige are great for any winning team. Fortunately both cities are on a river, Oxford being on the River Thames and Cambridge being on the River Cam and so both teams have adequate access to water for training. During most of the year, any visitor to Oxford will probably see several students practicing for the upcoming annual race but in Cambridge, the number of trainers is outnumbered by the many punts that act as venues for pleasant relaxation times.

The punt which many people incorrectly associate with the gondola of Venice was first introduced on the River Thames in London to assist fishermen, eel fishers and duck hunters but whilst its use for assisting them was short lived, it has enjoyed a longer life as a pleasure boat since. Even after its use as a working boat was finished in London, it still was used in other areas like the fens north of Cambridge. It use as a pleasure boat became popular over many parts of England but today even that popularity has dwindled in recent years and so they usually only now be seen in Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury and Stratford with Cambridge being where they are most abundant.

Punting in Cambridge today has in fact become somewhat of a tourist attraction and so unlike the other cities that still have punts and people visiting the city use them if they get time, in the case of Cambridge people actually go for the punting and then do other things if they get time. This means that with punting being an important tourist attraction for the city, the city enforces several regulations to ensure it is maintained as a pleasant an activity as possible.

There are basically to ways of enjoying punting and those are firstly, to rent your own punt and then handle yourself from there, doing your own punting and steering (which is also done by using the same Pole) or, hiring a punt complete with punter, sparing you any work at all. If you opt for the second of the choices, you will find that the punter will also act as a guide for your sail and explain what the different buildings and structures are on the banks as you pass them by.

Even if someone has just moved to Cambridge though and believes they should get to learn how to punt, it would still possibly be to their advantage to take at least one trip up river in relaxation by going on a guided tour as then they will more easily get to know their surroundings. This i perhaps a unique way to learn some of a city’s heritage as a gondola ride in Venice would be and so perhaps there are similarities between the two after all, more than just the pole power.