History 1940-1945

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Volume 51, year unknown (1945?)

In the Michaelmas term the Club had 30 members, made up of ten from the previous year, two ex-service members, and eighteen freshmen, so that it should have been possible to put out three eights. Owing to the large numbers of afternoon practical classes and shortening winter afternoons, it was only possible to assemble two crews.

The First Eight went out after two weeks of tubbing, being coached first by the Secretary, who was unable to row, and for the last four weeks by Q. des Clayes(Clare and CUBC). The crew was a keen and co-operative one, made up of one First May colour, five of last year’s members, and two freshman, both of whom had previous experience with last year’s First May cox. J. F. Haigh and G. C. Rogers were both tried at stroke, the latter being chosen for setting a livelier stroke. Much improvement was made in the timing and balance during training, and it was disappointing that the boat dropped four places to 16th in the Fairbairn Race.

The Second Eight, which began training on 3 November, was handicapped at first by a number of alterations in personnel. In the end it contained five beginners leavened with three men of some experienced. D. J. Treweek did well as stroke, but the rest of the crew was inclined to bucket forward and rush him, with consequent loss of run. Thus, though plenty of work was done, much was wasted, and they came 28th in the Fairbairn Race.

At the end of January our boatman, Fred Johnson, began his well-earned and long postponed retirement, of which we wish him many happy years; we hope to see him often by the river.

In the Lent Term several members dropped out, wartime schedules of work being apparently still in force. For the same reason, the Second Eight had to be selected to fit in with the various practicals, and a regular Third Eight was rendered impossible.

The First Eight was rearranged somewhat, the Secretary replacing J. H. Walford, and G. E. Turner becoming stroke in place of G. C. Rogers, who then rowed four. Under the original coaching methods of Q. des Clayes, the timing and application of work were improved greatly, certain individualities of style and timing being largely ironed out. Very efficient rowing starts were made, and a novel racing spurt practised, both of which gained us much in the races. We were also very lucky to have a very light new clinker, which improved both our speed and our morale. (She is to been named ‘Mac’ after the late Ian Maclaren, who left £200 in his will for the purchase of boats.)

G.E. Turner was awarded his First Lent Colours on 18 February, and J. F. Haigh, G. C. Rogers, A. T. Colbeck, O. H. Litherland and J. L. Harrison received theirs on 21 February.

The Lent Races. On the first night we bumped Peterhouse beyond Ditton Corner, after a “crab” in the Ditch had lost us three lengths. On the second and third we rowed over in two very close races with Selwyn, and caught them on the fourth at Grassy.

The Second Boat was unable to put in more than three of the four outings a week now permitted, and lost two of its experienced awards. It made gradual progress, but never quite managed to row as a crew. C. A. Holborow had a good style as stroke, but unfortunately fell ill just before races, and was replaced by D. W. Gabriel. They dropped three places to the unenviable position of sandwich boat.

The Third Boat was a scratch affair formed at short notice in an effort at least to retain the place in the Third Division. It did its best, but created almost a record by dropping eight places.

An account of the boat club’s activities would be inadequate without mention of the efforts of several members of the First Boat in training and coaching be momentarily famous Bull College Eight, composed of members of the American Army studying at Cambridge, in a boat borrowed from Caius. Unfortunately, their plucky efforts were not rewarded with a bump.

We are very grateful to Q. des Clayes for the time and interest he has spent on us, and owe him much for our success in the Lents.

It is hoped that if the austerities of peace permits, we shall be able to enter a crew for the first post-war Henley Regatta.

The results of the Lent Races were encouraging for the First Boat and great hopes were entertained for the May Bumps. The Term started well, and after the First Eight had changed into a “shell” we went to Ely in order to accustom ourselves to her. Progress after this was slow, however, and approaching examinations claimed a great deal of time and attention. During the last ten days des Clayes was unable to coach and no new coach could be found to bring the crew to the top of their form.

The first night of the races was not encouraging, as St. Catharine’s, a good crew, bumped us in the Gut; on the second night everyone worked hard but the timing was poor and in spite of our best efforts we were bumped by Selwyn. Both these crews made several bumps. On the third night we rowed as far as the Red Grind before being overtaken, and on the fourth we rowed over.

The Second Boat was bumped each night, but improved throughout the races under Dr Miles’ coaching. The Third Boat Captain had valiantly coached a very mixed crew for nearly a year, but in the end his work went by the board, for during the May Term two other crews were raised, a Third Boat rowing in remarkable clothing as a Hunting, Shooting and Fishing Boat which suffered the same fate as the Second Boat and a crew of freshman who were entered for the Getting-on Races. They called three crabs during the course and did not get on!

After the end of term certain Gentleman of Caius challenged the Scholars of King’s to race up the Reach; neither crew had rowing experience, and Victorian attire was worn by crews, coaches and some of the spectators.

The First Eight, with some alterations, went to Henley. There, with good food and nothing to do but row, the boat made great progress. We were drawn against the Henley Rowing Club in the first round of the Thames, a heavier crew occupying the Bucks. station. They led from start but did not increase their lead until after the Mile; down the enclosures we were catching up, but they finished over a length ahead.

The Club would like to thank all their coaches throughout the year, especially Q. des Clayes. Fred Johnstone our boatman during the war, retired in January. Fred, who knew so many old rowing men, is still greatly interested in the Club, and we hope to see plenty of him in the future; he has asked us to thank all those Caians who subscribed to his present. Bert Jackson has taken his place as a full-time boat.

As rowing never ceased during the war, and as the war-time orders have been retained for the races, the club is having the boards filled in with the names of war-time offices. Dr Greaves, our treasurer has been appointed Reader in Bacteriology, which may prevent him continuing in this post; we should like to congratulate him on his new appointment and thank him for managing our accounts and defending our expenditures against the Amalgamated Clubs. Several old rowing men have returned and more are expected in the Michaelmas Term; it is hoped with their assistance to restore Caius to a high place on the river.


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