Thousands of spectators will line the River Thames in London on Sunday, when rowers from Oxford and Cambridge universities dip their oars in the annual Boat Race.

Last year, Oxford won the 159th edition of the world-famous Boat Race. But the bragging rights belong to Cambridge, which leads the series with 81 victories.

This year, Oxford will once again be looking to narrow that gap with the help of a few Canucks.

Two-time Canadian Olympic medallist Malcolm Howard is one of three Canadians on the team.

The 31-year-old rower from Victoria, B.C., won a silver medal in the men’s eights at the 2012 London Olympics. He won a gold medal in the same event in 2008.

Howard, who was rowing last year when Oxford won, will be joined by fellow Canadians Tom Watson and Tom Swartz.

And while the sporting event has hardly changed since the first boat race in 1829, rowing historian Chris Dodd says the number of foreigners on the teams is “one of the controversies about the race.”

In addition to the three Canadians, the Oxford rowing team includes two New Zealanders and an American.

The Boat Race course is a 6.8 kilometre stretch of the Thames River, from Putney to Mortlake in West London.

With files from CTV News’ Daniele Hamamdjian