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.
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.
Two years ago, Caius Boat Club said goodbye to our historic home on ferry path. Now, in a matter of days we will be welcoming back some of our many benefactors, to the official opening of our state of the art new Boat House – though still with an unmistakably Caian aesthetic. We are in awe of the support they have shown us and hope to do them proud.
I am now in my 5th year of a Medicine degree at the college and have rowed with Caius since novicing in the days of Gordon Beck. So it is with humility as well as excitement that I follow in the footsteps of him and all other Captains of Boats who have given their all to the club. Melissa Leonard, the immediate past Captain has provided a healthy club to nurture into 2017.
And the club is surely growing – two men’s crews and a women’s eight represent the old guard (‘In my day we boated from a portacabin’ etc. etc.) with varying degrees of experience and strength. Colm Mac Donnchadagh and Tobias Rudkin are the new head coaches for the men’s and women’s sides respectively, while Will McDermott (previously of Selwyn) provides coaching to our race-essential coxes. The novice intake for the term is also larger than it has been in previous years, with 3 novice men’s, 2 novice women’s and mixed eights providing surprisingly dedicated newbies the chance of a quintessential Cambridge experience.
It’s not all about quantity though: the NM1 stormed to victory at Queen’s Ergs pulling an average of 1:29.9 over a 8x500m relay, NW1 placing a strong 3rd and NM2 coming 2nd out of comparable 2nd crews. NM3 and NW2 also producing fantastic performances that hint at a depth in the squad that will be built upon over the coming weeks and months.
The 2017 CUWBC squad was announced recently featuring 6 Caians: Oonagh Cousins, Iona Casley, Rachel Elwood and Melissa Wilson as oars women, and Evie Lindsay and 1st year Matthew Holland as coxswains. On the men’s side we have George Hawkswell and Edward Nash both trialing for a place in a strong lightweight eight.
Matthew ‘Alfie’ Alexander