With many of last year’s experienced oarsmen and in encouraging entry from the freshman to draw from, prospects for the boat club must have been brighter in October of 1950 than for many years. Yet successes rarely come to the club that draws up its lists of crews and naively hopes for the best on the day. Training an oarsman is a long-term process, and may take years of his time and enthusiasm. It was thus considered rash to adopt a term-by-term policy, and with the numbers so carefully built up by captains of previous years, the club as a whole was in a good position to think liberally and in envisage the May Races, still eight months away in the sunny future, as a goal to be achieved while we were still shivering in the dark gloom of the October Cam.
Freshmen were trained from the very beginning, and their chaotic early struggles slowly emerged to form something recognisable as embryo rowing. Meanwhile the elders, possibly imagining that their knowledge of this finest of all arts was complete, were politely re-educated on our new medium, the swivel rowlock. Thus everyone had something with which to occupy his mind. Like financial returns in a new business, success did not overwhelm us immediately. In the Fairbairn Race, for which we had not immediately lost sight of things beyond, the First Boat came 8th, and the other four crews entered acquitted themselves with credit, especially the Fourth Boat, composed almost entirely of novice freshman. At the Fairbairn Supper we had a verdict of “satisfactory” passed on us, followed by the warning, that the club must unconditionally improved next term, if only because other Clubs in the University would be at the same game too.
The results of the Lent Races were an indication that we had perhaps improved as admonished to do so. A strong First Boat rose three places to 11th, the Third and Fourth Boats also gaining three places apiece. The Second Boat, never spectacular, retained its place in the Second Division. After the Lent Races a pleasant custom was revived, the College Regatta for Sculls and pairs. Nineteen entries were received, and rowed off in heats on two afternoons, in admittedly hostile weather, yet no one denied the fun and watermanship value. Mention must also be made of J. G. P. Williams, who won the Bushe-Fox Freshman’s Sculls in a close Final from Hooper, of Trinity Hall.
The May Races brought further success to the club. The First Boat, starting with uneven material after much experimenting with the order, became quite fast and run well, coached in the early stages on Mike Symons and David Reid, old Caians, and finally by Conrad Skinner, who coxed the University Crew for several years before the Great War. It went up two places to 11th, perhaps not quite a fulfilling our visions of four bumps, but as we improved each night, so did the crew ahead, and it was only in the third attempt that we caught Christ’s, having disposed of the LMBC II comfortably on the first night. The Second and Third crews also raced well and improved their positions, although having come up respectively against the First and Second Boats of other colleges on the first night, they belong to the “one down and two up” type of performance. A good Rugger Boat, with five complete novices aboard, performed the remarkable feat of winning their oars with four quick and devastatingly workmanlike bumps, as did the 7th Boat, consisting of oarsmen with a certain amount of latent experience in rowing to fall back upon. Old members may be surprised hear of a seventh Boat in the Mays – it is indeed a prototype. We managed therefore with a total credit, that is allowing already for the few bump Caius suffered and later made good, of 15 places – no boat lost ground in the final reckoning, and a general improvement was apparent overall.
A week later Caius was represented at Reading Regatta in a handsome style. The Second Boat got into the semi-finals of the Junior Eights, beating the University College of Southampton and the Queen’s College, Oxford; they were beaten by half a length by New College, who won the event. A Coxwainless Four won the Maiden Erlegh Challenge Cup in the Junior-Senior class, and Williams won the Junior Sculls somewhat easily. The next week at Marlow the May Boat was beaten in the Marlow Eights by the winners, Pembroke College, but the Four again did well to reach the semi-finals of the Town Cup Fours, we met our Waterloo in the shape of Worcester College, Oxford. Williams sculled well once more in the Junior-Senior Sculls, but couldn’t beat Nesbit of London R.C. who won the event.
At Henley the eight, slightly reformed, came on with great strides under the inspiring coaching of Joe Bailey, a former Club captain and the fountain of much wisdom on all subjects of difficulty. Out debt to him grows yearly – we only hope we are able to repay him from time to time by responding with success to the efforts he makes on our behalf. In the Ladies’ plate we drew First and Third Trinity. Nearly the whole way we were level or slightly ahead of them, but along the enclosures they drew away and won by 3/4 of a length, after a magnificent stroke-for-stroke battle. Entered for the Wyfold Cup the four beat Isis, First and Third Trinity, Emmanuel, Molesey BC, and Clare in the final, to win for Caius at Henley, the first success there of the College since the Peace Regatta of 1919, a lapse of some 32 years.
In retrospect it has been a good year for Caius. But our successes, small by some standards, must beget success. There has been an excellent spirit throughout the club, and it seems that within the College no small interest is taken in our doings, witness the response to the call for a Rugger Boat, and many welcome supporters along the towing path during the races. Earlier captains were right in assembling large numbers in the club, in an attempt ultimately to raise the standard of Caius rowing. To this year’s Captain fell the lot of improving their technical ability. John Walker was the right man if anyone was, and to him and all those who came with patience to teach, club is greatly indebted. Inevitably there are losses, and among them that of Malcolm Clark as Treasurer, will surely be most felt. Within a short space of time all were aware of his active personality and interest in the Club. We wish him every success in the United States. There is no shortcut and less luck in rowing, in which only the best that each can give is half good enough. Similarly there is no end. We hope that this year will stimulate the doubters and lead to more success, but that must be a slow business, requiring the exertions of all. It only requires a little confidence.
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After a successful year culminating in the winning of the Wyfold Cup at Henley and with five members of the Ladies’ Plate crew still up, the prospects for Club seems bright at the beginning of the year. Yet that promise was not fulfilled, and throughout the year the First Boat’s position fell in all its races.
In the Fairbairn Cup the First Boat did not settle down until a fortnight before the race; they unfortunately did not produce their best row on the day of the races, and after losing ground over the second half of the course dropped 12 places to 20th.
The lower boats, however showed some good racing spirit and all improved their position.
In the Colquhoun Sculls J. G. P. Williams after getting within three seconds of the record in the first-round, lost to the winner, J. R. A. Macmillan of 1st and 3rd, in the second round.
In the Lent Races the First Boat after bumping Christ’s at the Railings on the first day, fell on Friday to Corpus who won their oars, and again to Peterhouse on the last day. The second boat fell one place to Kings II, who won their oars. It was once again the lower boats who distinguished themselves, both the Third and Fourth Boats going up three places, and narrowly missing their fourth bump. The fourth boat achieved the rare success of making a bump with six and a half oars, after hitting a boat on Grassy Corner which completely broke one oar and splintered another, they did not lose heart and made their bump at Ditton.
A boat consisting of first and second eight oarsmen completed at the Reading Head of the River race where, after waiting at the start in pouring rain, they rowed a creditable race, finishing 16th.
The first May Boat, in spite of its excellent and untiring Coaches, never acquired the speed and drive necessary to make bumps in the First Division. It fell three places to Christ’s, LMBC II and King’s, ending up 14th in the First Division. The Second Boat also suffered, going down all four nights, the Third and Fifth went down one place and the Fourth two. The Sixth and Seventh boats, however, improved their position. The Sixth boat are to be congratulated on going up 7 places by means of an overbump and four bumps, moving up into the Sixth Division.
After the result of the Mays it was decided not to send an eight to Henley, but a four was entered for the Wyfolds and competed at Marlow and Reading Regattas. A composite crew was also sent to Reading Regatta and competed in the Junior-Senior Eights. They beat Burway Rowing Club and lost to Marlow in the second round. The Four lost their heat to Lensbury R.C., who reached the semi-finals.
After Reading the four was taken over by Dr A.G.S. Bailey and entered for the Town Cup at Marlow. In the first round we beat Trinity Hall B after a steady row. In the next round, after being a length and a half behind at half-way, we beat Thames R.C. by half a length after a good race by the enclosures. We met Trinity Hall A in the next round, who proved too good for us, and who, after beating us by some three lengths, went on to win the finals.
In the Wyfold Cup at Henley we drew London R.C. in the first round, an experienced crew who beat us by a length after a good race.
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J. G. P. Williams sculled during the Long Vacation with some successes, among them being the Senior Sculls at Stains and St. Ives. The following were elected officers for 1952-3
Captain G.H.E. Hart
Secretary H.K. Litherland
Second Boat Captain J.N. Stenhouse
Michaelmas Term, 1952
It was decided not to enter a crew for the Light Fours this year, but instead to concentrate on the Clinker Fours. This boat, with two freshmen in the stern, achieved considerable speed and rowed their best on the day, being beaten by St. Catharine’s by one second after a very close race. St. Catherine’s went on and won the event. Training for the Fairbairn race was once again affected by University trials, and until the last three weeks the order often had to change. The training for the Fairbairn was undertaken with the aim of building up crews for the Lents and May Races. In the race the First Boat rose seven places to 14th, while the others, with the exception of the fifth boat which went up 13 places, more or less maintained their position. Six Caius crews competed in the races, the lower three of these consisting almost entirely of freshman. We are fortunate this year in having several freshmen with previous rowing experience, three of whom rowed in the First Fairbairn Eight. We now look forward to the Lent and May Races to provide us with an opportunity of seeing the First Boat rise to a more worthy position on the river. This can only the achieved by hard work and determination to improve, together with a sound and uniform coaching policy.
Throughout the term that has been an excellent spirit in the boat house, a most important factor, if successes are to be achieved.
Finally we would like to extend our thanks to all our Coaches, and to all the old Caians who have supported the club throughout the year, and also to our untiring treasurer, Michael Pritchard, who did much to secure for us the new Clinker Four.
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In the early part of the Lent Term of 1953, the First Boat showed considerable promise, but despite great enthusiasm this promise was not fulfilled and they went down on the first two nights of the races to Kings and Christ’s. They rallied courageously, however, and retained their position at 14th on the last two nights. The second boat made three bumps, and the third and four boats also improved their positions. After the Lents, the college Regatta was held. It consisted of the usual small boat events plus a race in coxed fours between two halves of the Second Boat. A crew then went to the Reading Head of the River race. After very few outings and a change of order they did not disgrace themselves by coming 22nd.
The year’s real failure was the First May Boat. It fell from 14th to 18th, being bumped by Jesus II, 1st and 3rd Trinity II, Corpus and Peterhouse, ending up in the Second Division. Some little blame rests with the coaches, but the real weakness was within. Individual enthusiasm there was, but individuals acting as such can only weaken a team. For successful rowing real unity and confidence are necessary. They cannot be achieved without leadership, a clear policy, and consistent effort. All these were missing. The Second May Boat gained three places as did the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Boats. The Third boat made two bumps, while the Sixth went up five places and were awarded their oars.
A Light Four and Eight composed of members of the first and second boats were sent to Reading Regatta. The Four was beaten in the second round of the Junior-Senior Fours after a row-over. The Eight did well to reach the final of the Junior-Senior Eights where they lost to Queen’s, Oxford.
The crew that rowed at Marlow Regatta, and subsequently at Henley, contained two members of the Second May Boat. Mr Brian Coulton coached the crew at Marlow. In the first round of the Marlow Eights they lost to Imperial College, the eventual winners; though Caius held their opponents for some distance they did not settle into a stride and blew-up after half way.
At Henley the coaching was taken over by Dr A. G. S Bailey. The order was changed and the crew slowly settled down but never achieved real pace and were beaten in the first round of the Thames Challenge Cup by Queen’s Oxford.
The boat was sent Henley not primarily on its merits but in order to gain experience. Justifiable from this point of view it was a pity that the crew did not consist entirely of people who would be coming up the following Michaelmas.
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The following were elected officers for the season 1953-4
Crews were entered this Michaelmas Term for both the Light and the Clinker Fours. The Light Four lost to Jesus ‘A’ crew by 5 seconds in the first round. The Jesus crew contained members of the boat that won the Ladies’ Plate at Henley in the summer, and two of them have since been awarded Trial Caps. The Clinker Four raced well to beat Fitzwilliam House in the first round by a fair margin. They then lost to St Catharine’s after a hard tussle.
Crews then began to settle down for the Fairbairn Race. They were coached with the aim of building up crews for the Lent and May Races. The First Boat finished 9th and the Second Boat 28th.
It is well worth mentioning that, although no oarsman of experience and promise came up this year and the second boat contained four freshman, two of whom had no previous experience, they nevertheless finished well up among the second boats. The remaining three boats fell from positions at which they started, though this may be partly because the starting positions were relatively high.
Our thanks are due to those old members of the Boat Club, and many others, who display an interest in its doings and who coach us from time to time. Also we wish to thank Mr H. Jackson for the trouble he has taken in maintaining the club equipment and keeping the boat house ship-shape.
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At the beginning of the 1953-4 season, the Captain decided that the position of the First Boat in the Mays (Second Division, 18th on the river) must be improved, so throughout the year special attention was paid to that boat. Encouraged by good performances in the Fairbairn and Lent races, the crew began the training in the Easter term, under the Rev. J. M. Plumley. H.T. Putman (Pembroke), who had coached the Lent Crew, took over, followed by J.M. Money-Kyrle (First and Third Trinity) and finally R. S. King, of the same club.
Quite fast times were recorded in practice and the crew developed a good racing spirit. On the first light of the May races, the first boat started behind Peterhouse I and did not produce sufficient speed to catch them before they bumped Corpus I. On the next night the First Boat had little difficulty in catching Corpus on Grassy corner. Peterhouse were bumped on the Friday on Ditton corner and the first boat became top of the Second Division and therefore “sandwich boat”. Racing again that evening at the bottom of the First Division, it bumped LMBC II on Ditton, and so was back in the First Division. On the final night of the bumps, Jesus II were caught on Grassy. The crew were awarded their oars.
The Second Boat contained seven freshmen. The crew showed a very good spirit, but after rowing over on the first two nights were bumped by Peterhouse II and Magdalene II. The other five boats rowing under Caius colours were made of up of rugger and hockey men and old lags. The Third, Fifth and Seventh boats fell on four successive nights, while the fourth was overbumped twice, bumped once and rowed over once. The Sixth boat made a bump and were bumped once.
The failure of the five Lower boats was partly due to their high positions on the river and also to the greater attention given to the First Boat. The Second Boat suffered slightly for this latter reason, and also because they were inexperienced and many of its crew were new to the river. The success of the First Boat justified all the time spent on it. The gratitude of the Club is due, not only to the coaches but also to John Price, the Captain, whose tireless energy and real ability brought about the return of the Club Boat to the First Division.
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Marlow Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta
Shortly after the Mays, the May Boat began training for Marlow and Henley. The Eight and a Four (from members of the Eight) was entered for both. At Marlow the Eight lost to the winners, Magdalen, in the first round of the Marlow Eights. The Four beat Westminster Bank in the first round of the Town Cup for coxless Fours, but lost to Queens’ College in the second.
This year the club took a house in Henley for the period of training. This not only made the stay more enjoyable, but was cheaper than staying at an inn, as had been practice for the last few years. There was some difficulty finding a coach, and G. W. T. Hodges of King’s, who finally took over, did all he could in the short time. The Eight was beginning to settle down when it was drawn to race Trinity College, Oxford, in a preliminary heat of the Ladies’ Plate. This was held half a week before the Regatta proper. Caius were a canvas down all the way to Fawley, then nosed ahead to lead, for a short distance, by a few feet. Trinity then spurted and kept in front to the finish, winning by two-thirds of a length.
The order of the Four was changed after Marlow, Price stroking the boat from bowside. This crew improved quite quickly in practice. It beat King’s College, London, in the first round of Wyfold Cup by two and a half lengths. The Master and Lady Chadwick visited Henley on Thursday, to see the Wyfold Four beat Oxford City by two and a quarter lengths. In the third round, on Friday, Caius were beaten by Imperial College. The latter were in the lead by just over a length near the finish, when Caius struck the booms and had to stop.
The Eight had to change to a shell-boat after the Mays, and did not have time to settle down in the unfamiliar craft. The crew was therefore not confident and could not recapture their former speed. There was one change from the May crew D. S. Mair replaced Surtees, who was unable to row after the end of term.
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In the Easter Term G. Every was elected Captain for the 1954-55 season. C. B. d’A. Fearn was appointed Secretary, and D. S. Mair Second Boat Captain.
In the Michaelmas Term of 1954 training began early for the Light and Clinker Fours. O.J. Price and R. A. B. Nicolle (First and Third Trinity) coached the Light Four, which was beaten by Pembroke in the first round by 14 seconds, although leading at the Ditch by one second. The Clinker Four was beaten by Emmanuel in the first round by 25 seconds.
The Fairbairn Boats then began training in earnest, the First Boat being coached by Professor Walker and N. S. Dixon. During training this boat did not move very fast, whereas the second showed much promised. In the race, the First rowed well after a scrappy start, and finished seventh (a rise of two places), but the Second dropped to finish 29th. The club also had three other boats containing a large proportion of freshman, which finished 50th, 74th and 68th respectively.
The performance of the first boat was encouraging and there are some useful oarsmen developing in the lower boats.