There had been some informal correspondence between the representatives of the two crews the previous year, but as nothing came of it, the general opinion was that a race could not be arranged.
Early in '69, however, it was rumored that a match had been arranged, and a mass meeting of the students was called to discuss the practicability of the proposed event. At this meeting it was urged that Harvard could in no way compete with Oxford as she was greatly surpassed in the number of students, as in England the art of rowing was learned in the colleges preparatory to the higher universities while the members of the Harvard crew must necessarily be men who had learned to row during their college course.
After much deliberation and discussion, it was at last decided to send a four-oared crew to meet Oxford. The crew sailed for Liverpool on July 10, and on their arrival were given quarters which proved to be well suited to their needs. The London rowing club immediately placed their boats and boat houses at the disposal of the Harvard men and treated them with great civility. The Harvard crew worked with great zeal to perfect themselves, for they saw clearly that they had a great undertaking on their hands, and that they were to row under great disadvantages.
An immense crowd gathered on the 27th of August to witness the great event. The two boats came out about five o'clock in the afternoon, and at the word from the starter the crews were off, Harvard rowing 46 to Oxford's 40. Harvard at once took the lead and held it for two miles, but it was then evident that Oxford's reserve power was much greater, as she soon lessened the distance between the boats, and took a good lead which she kept to the finish, crossing the line six seconds ahead of the Harvard crew. Although defeated, the Harvard men received much praise for their pluck and perseverance.