The 53rd Boat Race took place on 28 March 1896. The Boat Race is an annual side-by-side rowing race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames. In a race umpired by former rower Frank Willan, Oxford won by two-fifths of a length in a time of 20 minutes 1 second, taking the overall record in the event to 30–22 in their favour. It was their seventh consecutive victory and the narrowest winning margin since 1877.
The Boat Race is a side-by-side rowing competition between the boat clubs of University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the “Dark Blues”) and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the “Light Blues”). The race was first held in 1829, and since 1845 has taken place on the 4.2-mile (6.8 km)Championship Course on the River Thames in southwest London. The rivalry is a major point of honour between the two universities, as of 2014 it is followed throughout the United Kingdom and broadcast worldwide. Oxford went into the race as reigning champions, having beaten Cambridge by
Oxford’s coaches were G. C. Bourne who had rowed for Oxford in the 1882 and 1883 races, R. C. Lehmann, the former president of the Cambridge Union Society and captain of the 1st Trinity Boat Club (although he had rowed in the trials eights for Cambridge, he was never selected for the Blue boat) and Douglas McLean (an Oxford Blue five times between 1883 and 1887). Cambridge were coached by Stanley Muttlebury who had rowed for Cambridge five times between the 1886 and 1890 races. The umpire for the race for the eighth year in a row was Frank Willan who won the event four consecutive times, rowing for Oxford in the 1866, 1867, 1868 and 1869 races.