Captain’s Word

Captain’s Word Easter 2018

This year we took full advantage of our new boathouse, with our novices training there from day 1. As someone who can remember the portacabins of 2015-16, I can say for certain that the boathouse has made a huge difference to our novice retention, dedication to training, and general boat club vibes. Having more space for boats has also borne fruit, with two single sculls joining our fleet and a Janousek 8+ replacing one of our Vespolis. One of the single sculls was a generous donation by alumnus Richard Gradwell, and will be named the “Chloe Gradwell”. Our Janousek 8+, the “Pippa Rogerson” named after the incoming Master of Caius, will be rowed by the women’s side. These boats will no doubt be extremely useful for training in the coming years!

On the river, this year has been mostly positive. Our Michaelmas crews were extremely strong, the men’s novices winning every race they entered and M1 winning in Uni IVs. Then at Pembroke Regatta, M1 won and Gonville Boat Club raced against themselves in the final of the alumni division: a boat headed by Sam Lloyd going up against one headed by Gordon Beck. Lent Bumps however was chaos, with the weather cancelling many of the divisions. Despite this, W2 bumped up one position, as did M4. M1 moved up two into 2nd on the river, but didn’t get a chance to race LMBC for the headship. The real stars of Lent Bumps were M3 however, bumping up through sandwich into division 3. With this effort, I awarded them blades since they bumped at every opportunity they could, despite the best efforts of the weather.

At Head of the River, we entered a boat for the first time since 2012. We finished 163rd, having started 285th, overtaking 7 boats over the course. We also had representation in the CUW C boat at WeHORR with women’s vice-captain Kate McDaid, who finished 42nd.

Moving into May Bumps, our top boats slipped a little but still hold strong positions on the river, 4th and 5th for M1 and W1 respectively. Being within touching distance of the headship will surely motivate next years’ squads! Our lower boats also had some great performances, both M3 and W3 narrowly missing out on blades due to unfortunate bumps in front of them (both +3).

This year was also the 20th anniversary of the 1998 crews, in which year 6 of the 7 racing crews were awarded blades! We welcomed the alumni back for our Boat Club Dinner and to our benefactors tent on Caius Meadows for the Saturday of Bumps. As anyone who has rowed May Bumps knows, the roar from the Caius tent is great motivation, and so I thank all the alumni and supporters who came down to the Meadows. Special thanks as always to Martin Wade, Tony Baker and Jimmy Altham for the support from the towpath, and of course our boatman Simon Goodbrand without whom none of this would be possible.

As for me, this was my final year in Cambridge. It has been my pleasure to serve as Captain of Boats, and I’m sure come May Bumps 2019 I’ll be on the Meadows cheering on our crews. Chris Gilmartin will be taking over as Captain of Boats into this next academic year, and I wish him the best of luck (not that he needs it!)

Go The Mighty

Robin McCorkell

Captain’s Word Lent 2018

It’s the beginning of Lent term, and with it comes the joining of our novices with the senior squad. Michaelmas was a fantastic term for our novices: a strong showing across all crews at Queen’s Ergs set the tone for the rest of the term, with NM2 winning their category and NW2, NW1 and NM1 coming 2nd in theirs. On the water, NM1 dominated every competition they entered, winning Emma Sprints, Clare Novices and Fairbairns! NM2 were hot on their heels however, with a strong race in Clare Novices and also a win in their category in Fairbairns. NW1 lost out in the elimination-style racing of Emma Sprints and Clare Novices, but finished 6th of around 30 boats in Fairbairns!

The seniors were not hanging around last term either, with a win in Uni IVs for M1, followed by 3rd in the Winter Head and 2nd in Fairbairns (among college crews). W1 had some good races and set a good time at the Winter Head, and will hopefully gain a lot of power with the novice women joining the squad. 2k tests have now taken place for both the women and the men, and it seems like the existing seniors are going to have a fight on their hands to keep their seats!

Just before Christmas, we took 26 rowers and coxes to Chester for our annual training camp. We were joined by W1 coach Jamie Brown, along with guest coach Cyril Cornet from Imperial/Westminster. The week was full of intense training and mentality gains, but also a fair measure of fun with the rest of the squad! Our novices in particular stepped on a lot, and I’d like to thank our coaches again for the effort they put in, which will directly affect our performance in Bumps.

So, Lent Bumps. It is of course difficult to predict what will happen, but I am confident that with so many strong novices competing with seniors for seats, and the resulting determination that entails, we are set up to do very well.


Robin McCorkell

Captain’s Word Michaelmas 2017

After a year in our state-of-the-art new boathouse, built with the support of our benefactors, we are starting to see the difference that having some of the best facilities on the Cam makes for attracting novices. Over 100 students, both undergraduate and graduate, have signed up to row with us this year! This large intake, combined with top-class coaching, puts us in a great position for this term and indeed the entire year.

Caian Matthew Holland, cox of the Women’s Blue Boat that beat Oxford earlier this year, and who coached our M1 in Easter Term last year, will be joining forces with Fanny Belais, bow seat of the 2015 Women’s Blue Boat, continuing to coach our M1. Jamie Brown, CUL President 2016/2017 and coach of our W2 last year, will be coaching our W1 this term. We also welcome Julie Hogg (City RC) who will be coaching our M2, and welcome back Leanne Fiddian, our M3 coach last year, who will be coaching our W2.

Our current senior rowers are also continuing to trial for the University, with Seb Baucutt trialling for CUL, Victoria Walker trialling for CUW, Tara Slade trialling as a cox for CUW, and Joep ten Wolde trialling for CUBC. Calum MacRae is also trialling for CUL as a Caius fresher. We hope to see them back at CBC for May Bumps, where there are headships that need claiming!

One recent shining example of what can be achieved at Caius Boat Club is Melissa Wilson, who came fourth (!!!) in the Women’s Pairs at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, with pairs partner and fellow CUWBC rower Holly Hill (Downing College). Melissa noviced at Caius in 2012, joined CUWBC racing in the 2013 Boat Race, then progressed to the GB Rowing Team while at Lucy Cavendish.

Oonagh Cousins has also reached the lofty heights of Team GB, racing in the World Rowing U23 Championships in the Women’s Four and coming 6th in the A final, and also the inaugural European U23 Championships, winning bronze in the Women’s Eight! They are both inspirations to us all, especially to the new novices!

Lastly, I would like to introduce myself. I am entering my 3rd and final year of undergraduate study in Computer Science, having rowed at Caius for the last two years and at Dover Rowing Club in coastal rowing for 7 years before that. The mantle of Captain of Boats has been passed to me from Matthew “Alfie” Alexander, and I hope to maintain CBC’s position as one of the best colleges on the river, if not to take it back to being THE best college.


Robin McCorkell

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