History 1975-1980

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Captain: P.C. English
Hon. Secretary: W.S.H. Laidlaw
Hon. Vice Captain: O.H.C. Stobbs

The Boat Club in 1975-6 had another extremely successful year, proving there to be a genuine sustained revival in Caius rowing with several outstanding performances by individual crews.

This year the Boat Club entered two Clinker IVs and despite rigorous training the 1st IV were unluckily and narrowly beaten by Jesus in the first-round. The 2nd IV however were more fortunate and beat Peterhouse, Queens’ and Downing with an unashamed technique of brute force and ignorance which took them to the semi-final where they were only narrowly defeated by 1st & 3rd Trinity.

Caius then entered two crews for the Fairbairns whose performance gave an indication of the strength of the Boat Club. The 1st VIII came fourth and the 2nd VIII came 23rd both of which were very creditable performances on relatively few outings. The next hint of future success came in the Emmanuel Regatta where the 1st VIII won the VIIIs division beating Churchill, Sidney Sussex and Trinity Hall, this was the first time this event has been won by Caius for many years. Two competent novice VIIIs were also mustered for the Clare Novice’s Regatta and they acquitted themselves honourably but without distinction providing a solid basis for the lower boats.

In the Lent Bumps pride of place must go to the 1st VIII who once again won their oars by spectacularly rapid bumping, this year on more distinguished crews than last. After sharpening their teeth on Emmanuel and Selwyn on the first two nights they caught 1st & 3rd Trinity at First Post Corner on the third night and Jesus on the last night equally conclusively. The 2nd VIII: training was unfortunately plagued by ice on the Cam and an influenza epidemic but despite this they managed to retain if not improve their place on the river. The 3rd and 4th VIIIs each claimed three bumps. In each case they were prevented from getting their blades by crews bumping out in front. Thus 11 bumps out of 16 starts were recorded against other crews and the 1st VIII next year will be starting sixth, higher than that attained by a Caius crew for over 40 years.

The next week saw the Captain reach his second final in the Forster-Fairbairn Trial Pairs this time with the Vice Captain stroking where they were very unlucky to be beaten by fast Pembroke pair in windy conditions [primarily because the Captain was unable to steer successfully round Grassy Corner]. The next event for 1st VIII was the Bedford Ouse where despite a week of debauchery after the Lents, miserable conditions and a borrowed boat, the 1st VIII walked off with the Restricted Pennant proving they were more than a sprint crew.

This point was reinforced when the crew came together again in the Easter term for the CRA Head of the Cam where they were provisionally placed fourth after a very fine hard course and it is probable that they should have been placed higher still. A newly formed 2nd VIII also did very creditably to come 30th.

The 1st VIII then lost one of its crew members due to injury and failed to take away cups at either Norwich or Cambridge though experimentations with boats and rigs did not help. In the May Races unfortunately the elusive Clare once more slipped from the 1st VIII’s grasp and despite a courageous bump on St Catharine’s on the second night they could only rise one place. Although greater things had been hoped for nevertheless this is the highest Caius has been in the Mays since comfortably before the war. The 2nd VIII showed their true metal and though unable to bump on the first night recorded three other fine bumps on Corpus 2, Magdalene 2, and Queens’ 2. However, pride of place in the Mays must go to the 3rd VIII who bumped on the first three nights and overbumped Fitzwilliam 3 on the last thus earning their blades magnificently. The 4th VIII also recorded two convincing bumps on Clare and St Catharine’s VIIIs and what was lacking in finesse was more than compensated for by pluck and determination. Only the 5th VIII went down on the river due largely to an inability to arrange outings times, however, again they did manage to exhibit a bit of aggression when the situation looked fairly desperate.

This year the boat club sent an VIII to Henley for the first time for many years. Although we could only muster seven oarsmen we were extremely fortunate that David Searle of St Catharine’s (and future President of CUBC) volunteered his services as a substitute contributing greatly to the spirit and speed of the crew. Under the attentive care of Dr Bailey the crew began to shape up steadily as a powerful boat which did no longer fade after its initial frantic start and with more speed and less haste the VIII became one of the best Caius has known. The VIII drew Downing on the first day and although it did not defeat them as conclusively as it could have done this was due to complacency rather than inability. The next day Caius rowed a far harder race against the favoured Exeter University 1st VIII who had gone ahead by the barrier and stayed up for rest of the course. Nevertheless the experience was worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned and some good times were recorded for the course. It was a pity that the crew had to disband when it was finally beginning to reach the potential it had shown earlier in the year.

I would like to thank all the coaches this year particularly John Smith who selflessly finished both Lent and May crews, and Dr Joe Bailey who increased the speed and the enthusiasm of the Henley crew and Piet and Jill de Boer who enabled the 2nd VIII to continue its ascent towards the second division. I would also like to thank all coaches, oarsmen and coxes who are leaving particularly Geoffrey Vos, the voice of the 1st VIII Richard Hopkins and Andy Sears an invaluable and possibly irreplaceable stern pair of the 1st VIII and particularly the retiring captain Pete English. Pete has been responsible more than anyone else for the successes of boat club this year by his ability to always put the boat club first and has inspired enthusiasm and determination into the boat club, which has so helped its success.

I would also like to thank those many Caians who have contributed so generously to the appeal of last year. I do hope that as many old Caians, no matter how distant their connection with the boat club, will come to next year’s 150th anniversary dinner which is to be held on April 2nd 1977, which should prove an historic and enjoyable occasion.

Officers from 1976-77 
Captain: W. Sam H. Laidlaw
Hon Vice Captain: Oliver H. C. Stobbs
Hon Secretary: Anthony E. Cooke-Yarborough

1st Lent VIII 
Bow W.S.H. Laidlaw; 2 J. Rawlinson; 3 J.S. Nangle; 4 O.H.C. Stobbs; 5 P.C. English; 6 A.E. Cooke-Yarborough; 7 A.F. Sears; Str R. J. Hopkins; Cox G.C. Vos; Coaches G.C. Vos(CBC) Dr R. Poole (City BC) Ian Fleming (Goldie, and LMBC) J. H. Smith (CUBC)

1st May VIII/2nd May VIII
Bow W.S.H. Laidlaw / J. R. Delve; 2 J. Rawlinson / A. W. M. Reicher; 3 G.B. Barnes / W. J. Brampton; 4 O.H.C. Stobbs / M. C. Harrop; 5 P.C. English / E.J. Williams; 6 A.E. Cooke-Yarborough / M.A. de Belder; 7 A.F. Sears / C.F. Gilks; Str R. J. Hopkins / S.P. Oliff; Cox G.C. Vos / J. N. Weber; Coaches J. Hale (Goldie) / W.S H. Laidlaw; A. Twinn / G.C. Vos; J. Gleave (OUBC) / Dr P de Boer; J. H. Smith (CUBC) / Mrs J. de Boer

Captain: W.S.H. Laidlaw
Honorary Secretary: A.E. Cooke-Yarborough
Honorary Vice-Captain: O.H.C. Stobbs

The boat club in 1976-77 had a successful year although a little disappointing in comparison with the last few years. Nevertheless, Caius is certainly still one of the ten strongest clubs.

Two Clinker IVs were raised. The 1st IV caught up the Clare 2nd IV at Grassy in the first-round, but lost by three seconds in the second round, giving the eventual winners, Jesus, their closest race. The 2nd IV beat Peterhouse but then lost to 1st & 3rd Trinity.

Two crews were entered for the Fairbairn Head, with the absence of the Secretary, who was rowing in the University Trials. The 1st VIII were weakened by the withdrawal due to back strain on the race day of the No. 5, Eric Williams, for whom Chris Logan gallantly stood in, and despite being baulked by a slow Clare 1st VIII, managed to finish seventh. The 2nd VIII performed even better than last year, finishing 20th, equal with Pembroke 1st VIII. The following week saw the Vice-Captain and Chris Logan easily winning the coxless pairs division in the Emmanuel Regatta. Three crews were entered for the Clare Novice Regatta, one of which reached the semi-final.

The 1st Lent VIII was plagued throughout the term by its inability to find a suitable stroke, the excitable but temperamental Humphrey Birley eventually being preferred to the more controlled and reserved John Rawlinson. They were bumped by the fast Jesus crew on the first night, rowed over ahead of 1st & 3rd Trinity on the second, then were bumped by Selwyn and finally rowed over ahead of 1st & 3rd again. Pride of place goes to the 2nd VIII, which at last fulfilled the hopes of the last few years by getting into the 2nd division. They did this in spectacular style, winning their oars by bumping Christ’s 2, Downing 2,Churchill 2,and Selwyn 2. The 3rd and 4th VIIIs both performed well, giving hope for success in the Mays.

A week later, the Vice-Captain and Chris Logan entered the Forster-Fairbairn Trial Pairs, in which a Caius pair had been losing finalist for the previous two years. This year, however, they beat Fitzwilliam, and in the final, in very windy conditions, they easily beat a combined Magdalene-1st & 3rd Trinity pair. Meanwhile, the Secretary had been selected to row at No. 4 in the Blue Boat on March 19th, when they lost to the very strong Oxford Crew by seven lengths.

On April 2nd, a dinner was held in Hall to celebrate the Club’s 150th anniversary. This was a very enjoyable and well-attended occasion, and I would like to thank all those who came for making it so, especially those who came from overseas. The Easter term began with a re-arranged 1st VIII, which took some time to come together well. Despite a last-minute crew change, there was much confidence that Clare would be caught, they having eluded the 1st VIII several times since they narrowly prevented them from winning their oars in 1975. However on the first day the boat was blown into a poor position just before the starting gun was fired, and although they got within half a length of Clare, they were eventually caught by LMBC 2 on Ditton Corner. The next night they were bumped by the fast St Catharine’s crew. Unfortunately confidence was now badly undermined, and complete lack of togetherness under pressure led to their being bumped at the Railings by Trinity Hall. This ought never to have happened, and it was with a great deal of aggression the crew set off on the last night. With no danger from Downing behind, despite a quickly recovered shipwreck on the part of the Secretary (CUBC prerogative!), they got within a length of bumping back, thus finishing 11th.

The story of the 2nd May VIII is tragic. On the first two nights they made a spectacular rise into the second division. Then five members of crews got food poisoning, and were bumped back down to the 3rd division. The 3rd, 4th and 5th VIIIs all performed impressively, although none of them achieved outstanding success.

Bow and Stroke of the May VIII could not row at Henley, so the Captain moved to bow and two substitutes were brought in, Patrick Brooks, a Trial Cap from Selwyn, Robin Waterer, a Blue from Sidney Sussex, at No. 7 and Stroke respectively. Under the intensive and necessarily blunt coaching of Howard Jacobs (CUBC 1973-4, ex-Pembroke) confidence was quickly fostered for the qualifying race a week before the Regatta. An impressively powerful row over the course by this 13st 10lb average crew meant that they easily qualified for the Regatta proper, beating Edinburgh and Newcastle Universities, Cherwell Boat Club, and Downing and Clare Colleges. In the first-round they were drawn against Durham University, the joint favourites, and despite a powerful and relentless row they lost by one and a half lengths, never allowing Durham to slacken off. The Henley fortnight was very worthwhile and the new boat, which had arrived too late for the Mays, performed beautifully.

I would like to thank all this year’s Coaches, particularly John Smith, who once again gave up his increasingly valuable time to finish the Lent Boat, and Dr Joe Bailey, who selflessly commuted from Bourne End to finish the May Boat. I would also like to thank all those who are now leaving, especially the tremendously determined John Rawlinson, the dependable George Barnes, and the tall, aggressive Rhodesian John Nangle. We are all indebted to Chris Logan for standing in at the last-minute on so many occasions and for acting as Boatman at the start in the May Races. Few of us realise the full extent to which the almost fanatical enthusiasm of the Vice-Captain, Oliver Stobbs has kept the body and spirit of the Club going over the last four years. Finally, I must thank the retiring Captain, Sam Laidlaw, for the inestimable energy that he has expended over the last year in overcoming all the difficulties which have arisen.

The club owes many thanks to those who through their generous response to the appeal enabled us to buy our new sectionalised VIII, and to all those who, by their attendance, made the 150th anniversary dinner such a memorable occasion.

Officers for 1977-78
Captain A.E. Cooke-Yarborough
Honorary Secretary F.G. Gurry
Honorary Vice-Captain W. Brampton

1st Lent VIII 
Bow W. Brampton 2 M.A. de Belder 3 F.G. Jerry 4 J. Rawlinson 5 J.S. Nangle 6 O.H.C. Stobbs 7 W.S.H. Laidlaw Stroke H.D. Birley Cox M.D. Stockwood

1st May VIII 
Bow H.D.L. Birley 2 G.D. Barnes 3 F.G. Gurry 4 O.H.C. Stobbs 5 J.S. Nangle 6 A.E. Cooke-Yarborough 7 W.S.H. Laidlaw Stroke J. Rawlinson Cox N.G. Blanshard

2nd May VIII 
Bow H. Davis 2 P. Walton 3 J. H. Davies 4 M.A. de Belder 5 W. Brampton 6 R.G. Mayne 7 J.P. Treasure Stroke J. Delve Cox M.D. Stockwood

Captain: A.E. Cooke-Yarborough
Honorary Secretary: J.P. Treasure
Honorary Vice-Captain: W. Brampton

At the start of the year there was little cause for optimism: few experienced oarsmen were available, and strength in depth was not great. Consequently, a great deal of time was spent coaching and encouraging Novices in order to maintain the clubs present high standing.

Two Fairbairn VIIIs were selected, and both trained hard to minimise the effect of inexperience. The 1st VIII looked determined from the start of the race, and a solid row left them well up on Trinity Hall 1 in the last Reach – but then, with 30 strokes to go disaster struck as Peter Clark at No. 6 was catapulted out of the boat after crabbing. Despite struggling desperately over the line, the remaining Seven came 17th. The 2nd VIII, including three complete Novices, gained experienced but dropped far down the field.

During this term we learnt of the death of our boatman, Don Eagling following his stroke last year. Hundreds of old Caians will remember his invaluable service to the Club over many years, not least in his superb boat-building skills. The new sectional VIII was christened “Don Eagling” [this boat, after giving long and valuable service was eventually burned to celebrate the Caius Headship in the Lent Races 1999].

Don’s successor, Tony Baker, arrived at the start of the Lent Term and at once applied cheerful efficiency to the large backlog of jobs. For the 1st Lent VIII Humphrey Birley was back from trials, but coaches were very hard to find. The boat was moving well two weeks before the bumps when a succession of illnesses and injuries disrupted training. Morale sank, and after a dogged row a length behind Clare, they were bumped by Magdalene on Ditton. The slide continued, and four bumps were conceded. The 2nd VIII, however, with little experience in the boat, gained three bumps, consolidating their tenure in the 2nd division. The 3rd VIII was not as successful, conceding three bumps.

Meanwhile the Captain was selected to row at No. 6 for the University in a dramatic Boat Race, which was closely fought until the infamous sinking. Pete Ainsworth also gained representative colours in the winning lightweight VIII.

The Easter term brought new optimism as the Captain returned to complete an experience stern four in the 1st VIII. The VIII started to move fast – although it never looked neat – and the first success of the year came at Cambridge Regatta, where decisive victories over Jesus 2 and Bedford Modern School won the senior ‘B’ event.

Later in the term, the Captain and Rob Ross (LMBC) won the Magdalene Pairs without being unduly pressed.

Success bred confidence, and the 1st VIII were keen to hit a slow Trinity Hall boat fast on the first day of the May Bumps. Despite a spectacularly messy row this was achieved at First Post Corner. The next evening saw the 1st VIII behind Clare, the nemesis of recent years for Caius 1st VIIIs. The gap closed remorselessly and a satisfyingly solid bump was made at the Railings. LMBC 2 were the next target. With grim determination and less than the normal quota of shipwrecks LMBC were worn down at about six inches a stroke; after a tremendous struggle they surrendered at Peter’s Posts, 400 m from the finish. Thus on the last night the 1st VIII were pursuing St Catharine’s for their blades. All thoughts of the crew in front vanished, however, when LMBC 2 made a do-or-die attempt to bump back. At Grassy they had an overlap, but bad coxing lost them their chance and they fell back. This allowed Caius to concentrate again on St Catharine’s, who were now two lengths clear. The familiar grinding-down of the 1st VIII closed this gap, however, and at the Pink cottage they were closing fast from a canvas off when Humphrey Birley became somewhat overexcited and caught a crab. Despite further repeated attacks by a near-spent Caius crew, St Catherine’s crossed line half a length up. Caius finished 8th.

The 2nd May VIII performed magnificently, rising into the 2nd division on the second night and consolidating with another bump on the third to gain worthy oars and confirm the high standing of the Club.

The 3rd and 5th VIIIs improved on each day, but lack of experience told and they both conceded four bumps. The 4th VIII avoided the same feat with a gutsy row-over on the last night. The 6th VIII, a Gentleman’s VIII rose from the depths of the getting-on race to claim blades with four spectacular bumps.

It was unfortunately impractical to send an VIII to Henley but the year was nevertheless successful, not least in the large number of promising and enthusiastic novices, one of whom (Tony Williams) rowed bow in the 1st May VIII. Although most coaching was internal, the 1st May VIII benefited greatly from Alf Twinn’s groundwork, Simon Clegg’s creation of a racing crew, and Pete English’s expert final honing of the blade. Tony Baker coached the 2nd VIII to their May success.

This year we lose the service of Herbie Mayne, stalwart of recent 2nd VIIIs; Winsor Bowsher, fanatical competitor; Peter Clark, languid anecdotophile; and Mike Stockwood dauntless and vocal enthusiast. The Vice-Captain Bill Brampton also departs, having spent innumerable hours enthusing novices and administrating tirelessly not to mention rowing with intense dedication. Finally the Captain, Anthony Cooke-Yarborough, takes his leave. Having arrived from Eton 3rd VIII he leaves a successful and thriving boat club with two Blues and the prospect of competing at the highest level, should he so wish. We are grateful to them all.

Prospects for next year (last of 152 years of all-male rowing at Caius) are excellent if the present high level of enthusiasm is maintained.

Officers for 1978-79
Captain H.D. Birley
Honorary Secretary A.N. Williams
Honorary Vice Captain P. J. Ainsworth

1st Lent VIII
Bow S. Wills 2 J. H. Davis 3 J.P. Treasure 4 P.J. Clark 5 W. Brampton 6 H.D. Birley 7 W. Bowsher Stroke P.J. Ainsworth Cox N. Blanshard

1st May VIII
Bow A.N. Williams 2 P.J. Clark 3 W. Brampton 4 W. Bowsher 5 J.P. Treasure 6 A.E. Cooke-Yarborough 7 H.D. Birley Stroke P.J. Ainsworth Cox M. Stockwood

2nd May VIII
Bow J. Daniel 2 J. Whalley 3 S. Wills 4 I Nissenbaum 5 R. Saunders 6 R. Mayne 7 M. Thompson Stroke S. Weston-Smith Cox C.Benn

After losing many of our experienced oarsmen and with the prospect of a very tough fight in the Mays to keep our position gained so spectacularly the year before, the year’s rowing ahead was viewed with some concern. A clinker IV was hastily put on the river, and with very little training we achieved a very close second in our class in the Head of the Cam IVs. Spurred on by this we rowed hard in the University IVs, beating Selwyn and Fitzwilliam easily. In the final we faced Lady Margaret and after a very hard race, with some confusing bank calls when we were seven seconds down on Grassy we were beaten by only 1 1/2 seconds.

The Captain and Secretary then entered the Head of the Cam sculling race, both providing good times, with the secretary coming 13th and winning the senior ‘C’ lightweight pennant.

We then lost three of the IV, the Captain and John Baart, a freshman from Shrewsbury 1st VIII to trials and our star graduate John Davies. Unfortunately others followed, not wanting to row in a probably unsuccessful 1st Fairbairn VIII. We therefore assembled a very inexperienced crew. However after some excellent coaching by Tony Baker we improved fast and on the day, in the inevitable thunderstorm, we pulled out all the stops, moving from 17th to seventh and winning the restricted pennant. The 2nd VIII were not so fortunate, and containing several complete novices slid further down the field. The novice crews also were unsuccessful. After a good response, several soon gave up again, preferring to spend the afternoons in Physiology practicals. Having to then take the best for 2nd VIII, the resulting two VIIIs did not have much chance.

The next week saw the Emmanuel Sprints. After the 1st VIII, and Secretary and Vice Captain in single sculls all got through the their rounds on the first day, the river froze over. Although the races were held at the beginning of the Lent term we were unable to race.

Meanwhile John Baart was selected to row at row for Goldie against Isis on March 17th, winning easily by 12 lengths.

The start of the Lent term was very cold, outings taking place in the snow regularly throughout the term with several boats damaged by ice. The Captain was back from trials, and we also saw two others return to boost our strength. However the Vice-Captain unfortunately broke his ankle in an unusual accident (I believe it involved snow and the Captain of 1st & 3rd) and was unable to row. Tony Baker again coached us throughout the term, in which the high point was the Peterborough Head. In a very high wind we again rowed hard, coming fifth (fourth of the college crews). However the inevitable ‘flu struck and in the Lents, after the bung line caught on the first night we failed to catch the crew in front. Disappointed we were brushed by Lady Margaret 2 at the Railway Bridge and although we pulled away they were awarded the bump, so we were down one overall.

Inexperienced again showed lower down, the 4th VIII failing to row on and the 3rd and 2nd VIIIs both going down four.

At the start of the Easter term, John Baart and the Vice-Captain both returned, and with a remodelled 1st VIII we hoped for better things. Julian Pinfold worked hard to bring us together, and after a slow race in the Head of the Cam, coming 15th, Simon Clegg from St Catharine’s took over. After much bullying we began to move fast, being beaten by Jesus in the Cambridge Regatta by only one and a half lengths. Olly Stobbs and Peter English them took over, producing a fast sprint crew (although we were still prone to shipwrecks). Anton Cooke-Yarborough then returned to finish us. Chasing a slow St Catharine’s boat on the first night we went off hard, bumping on First Post and keeping well away from Downing behind. On the second night we were more confident, bumping Fitzwilliam before First Post. With many more bumps in the first division than usual we were chasing 1st & 3rd Trinity on the third night. Although we closed to three-quarters of a length, after a bad shipwreck at the Plough we were unable to catch them. Disappointed, we had a poor start on the last night and after a messy row fell to Downing just before the Plough [Nevertheless, finishing seventh, the highest position for half a century].

The 2nd VIII, again inexperienced, held its ground well on the first two nights, eventually falling to LMBC IV. In spite of equipment problems the 3rd and 4th VIII both provided good rows, although the 5th VIII went down four.

I would like to thank all the Coaches this year, especially Tony Baker who kept doggedly on through rain, mud and snow and Simon Clegg who selflessly forsook St Catharine’s. Very few oarsmen are leaving us this year – we say goodbye to Humphrey Birley, a somewhat temperament lanky individual who nevertheless proved very useful in the stern four and did his best to fit in with the less cogitative aspects of boat club life. We also lose Simon Weston-Smith and Mike Clarke. Thus with most oarsmen hopefully remaining in the club next year we look forward to much success throughout the club.

Officers for 1979-80 
Captain A.N. Williams
Honorary Secretary W. J. Robinson
Honorary Vice Captain I. Nissenbaum

1st Lent VIII
Bow J.P. Treasure 2 J. Whalley 3 P. Waddams 4 S. Weston-Smith 5 H. Birley 6 N. Robinson 7 A.N. Williams Stroke I Nissenbaum Cox C. Beattie

2nd May VIII
Bow M Clarke 2 M. Wright 3 A. Bartlett 4 A. Gibb 5 M. Cosans 6 S. Laird 7 P. Gibson Stroke J. Davies Cox I. Radford

1st May VIII
Bow A. Hanning 2 N. Upton 3 W. Robinson 4. A. Williams 5 H. Birley 6 P. Ainsworth 7 I. Nissenbaum Stroke J. Baart Cox C. Beattie


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