History 1980-1985

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Captain: A.N. Williams
Secretary: W. J. Robinson
Vice Captain: I.I. Nissenbaum

This last year the College Boat Club seems to have been more a conglomeration of individuals than a coherent body. This was reflected not only by certain in-fighting, but also by success in sculling competitions. The VIIIs throughout year had mixed results, on some occasions not as good as others.

The year started with the IVs racing, where Caius entered two boats, one Clinker and one shell. The Shell boat improved rapidly under the guidance of Alf Twinn, the CUBC boatman and gained a good result in the University IVs, losing narrowly to LMBC II in the semi-finals, having had two good races on the previous days. The Clinker IV went down to St Catharine’s on the second day.

In the Head of the Cam Sculls, a team of six managed to carry off the team trophy, narrowly beating St Ives R.C. The Captain came seventh and 15th in two races at senior ‘C’ lightweight and senior ‘C’ respectively. With John Baart winning senior ‘C’ at ninth and Pete Ainsworth at tenth, and one member succeeding in capsizing a sculler who was trying to overtake him, we had an extremely successful day.

The college 1st VIII coached by Tony Baker and Julian Pinfold started seventh in the Fairbairns. The race was for once on an excellent cold bright day, but having started well we settled down too rapidly and although we picked up at the end of the Long Reach we came in ninth. The 2nd boat in this race, for the first time for some years containing no novices, did well to rise from 43rd to 21st thus being the third 2nd VIII on the river.

The novice crews showed promise but all three were beaten in the first-round when they panicked. However in the Plate the 1st VIII won its first race while the 2nd won right through to the semi-final where they met the eventual winners.

The club also entered two scullers in the Head of the River where the Captain came around 70th and Rory O’Conor ended a creditable 230th.

The Lents were blessed with good weather and the 1st VIII was extremely lucky to be coached for the whole term by visiting fellow, Derek Winterbottom. With the emphasis on sprint training on the first night we bumped LMBC 2 in 30 strokes. On the second and third we were chasing Downing and although we came within three-quarters of a length in both nights, we were always beaten on First Post Corner. On the fourth night we set off with a vengeance after Magdalene and scored another fast bump before First Post, ending up 11th on the river.

The 2nd VIII, being essentially that in the Fairbairns, were unlucky to miss their blades, missing one bump on the second night by a canvas. The 3rd VIII, inexperienced at first learned fast and ended level.

In the Easter Vacation we had three members representing the University, with the Captain and Vice-Captain in the successful lightweight crew and John Baart in the Blue Boat, with the chance of another try at Oxford this year.

The start of the May term saw an unfortunate disposition among certain members towards the classroom. It was thus with a 1st VIII that was well under its possible strength that we started training. We picked up well under Alf Twinn, who works wonders with Caius crews, and then spent two instructive weeks under Edgar Harbourne. After an unsuccessful Wallingford Regatta we learned more from Julian Pinfold, who helped us to look prettier, and Geoffrey Vos, who taught us how to work. At Cambridge Sprint Regatta we got through to the final, beating Peterhouse along the way, to lose to Star Club, Bedford. After a final week under John Smith we started the bumps seventh, chasing Downing and rowing over hard pressed by LMBC 2. On the second night we were about half a length off 1st & 3rd Trinity going into First Post. However corners can be taken too tight and we were two lengths down when we extricated ourselves, never to recover the spark. On the third night with Emmanuel behind us and 1st & 3rd in front we set off fast but had only caught up half the distance when we ourselves were bumped. On the last day we went off faster, gaining on Emmanuel before First Post but fell to Trinity Hall on Grassy.

The 2nd VIII, also having had its strength severely sapped by ‘work pressures’ and people opting for easier 3rd VIII bumps finished two down, despite improving well under Tony Baker, Olly Stobbs and Peter English and thus will have to get back into the second division this year. The 3rd VIII was frightfully unlucky with a Blue, a lightweight, and three 1st VIII colours, to only get three bumps. The 4th VIII ended up one through brute force (Rugby boat), while the 5th VIII went down three.

We found difficulty in collecting eight men for Henley and so entered the Visitors Cup. However, with the Captain retaking exams we had to train in Cambridge and failed to qualify. Nevertheless, the experienced was useful.

The Clubs saw the influx of women this year, and although not much success was gained, we now have the nucleus on which to build. They were successful in the Clare Novices, getting through two rounds, but against more experienced crews in the bumps they did not fare so well. The Lents saw them get two bumps due to good fortune and then go down two due to the opposite. In the Mays they sometimes rowed well but were inconsistent and went down three.

I would like to thank Tony Baker for all his hard work keeping the boats ‘Camworthy’, and for his invaluable coaching. My thanks are also due to other Caians who have given up their time to coach us. Tony Williams, Ian Nissenbaum and Pete Ainsworth went down last term, together with James Whalley and Dick Zambuni.

Our best wishes go to them, and this year we hope to be successful with a heavyweight crew.

1st Lent VIII
J. Whalley R. Zambuni W. Robinson C. Porter T. Hems A. Williams I. Nissenbaum P. Ainsworth I. Radford

1st Womens IV
C. Staughton S. Phillips J. Ibison A. Jones A. Pinto

2nd May VIII
C. Ashton S. Boddie R. Lander M. Gunton M. Pottinger R. Cross P. Gibson R O’Conor M. Brown

1st May VIII
R. Zambuni J. Whalley M. Cosans W. Robinson N. Upton T. Hems A. Williams I. Nissenbaum J. Black

Officials 1980-81
Captain W. J. Robinson
Secretary R.A. O’Conor
Vice Captain T.E.J. Hems

Extract from the Masters Speech at the annual gathering June 1980

John Baart won his blue in the Boat Race and though Cambridge lost the race the crews were so close in this year’s thrilling finish that Baart was the second man in either crew to pass the winning post. In the Lent races the 1st VIII made two bumps, contrary to the report in the Times (notorious for the unreliability of its Cambridge news) which showed us as being bumped on the last night when in fact we bumped Magdalene.


No boat club report in the Caian.

Lent Races 1981

1st VIII down four to 15th
Bumped by Magdalene, Christ’s, Peterhouse & Sidney Sussex
Bow R O’Conor 2 M Gunton 3 N Dodd 4 M Wright 5 M Cousins 6 T Hems 7 P Gibson Stroke P Dally Cox A Pinto

2nd VIII up two to 27th
Rowed over, Bumped LMBC 3, Queens’ 2, rowed over
Bow C Ashton 2 M Porter 3 S Fox 4 J Collinge 5 A Simon 6 S Boddie 7 J Pitman Stroke R Lander Cox T Rochford

3rd VIII down two to 60th
Bumped by Addenbrooks 1, Girton 1, rowed over twice
Bow M Wells 2 M Fitchett 3 S Riordan 4 T Bardwell 5 C Rogers 6 A Thorn 7 J Reggler Stroke M Cahill Cox T Kabir

1st Ladies VIII up two to 15th
Rowed over as sandwich boat(twice on Wednesday once on Thursday), bumped Darwin I, rowed over, bumped New Hall II
Bow H Tierney 2 K Towlson 3 C Staughton 4 C Jenkins 5 S Law 6 S Phillips 7 E Holmes Stroke A Jones Cox J Castle

Boat Race, LWJ Baart rowed bow in the Blue Boat (lost by 8 lengths)

Reserve Race WJ Robinson rowed 4 in Goldie (lost by 2 lengths)

May Races 1981

1st VIII up three to sixth
Rowed over, bumped 1st & 3rd Trinity, Selwyn, Pembroke
Quote from The Times, 12 June 1981 ‘1st & 3rd, in dire straits at Ditton, struggled on to the Railway Bridge before Caius scored’
Bow A Barlett 2 O Harwood 3 M Cosans 4 T Hems 5 N Upton 6 W Robinson 7 J Baart Stroke I Nissenbaum Cox R O’Conor

2nd VIII up five to 30th
Bumped Fitzwilliam 2, LMBC4 and Queens’ 2, King’s 1, Sidney Sussex 2
Bow P Gibson 2 M Wright 3 J Reggler 4 S Boddie 5 J Pitman 6 R Lander 7 A Simon Stroke M Gunton Cox T Rochford

3rd VIII up four to 50th
Bumped Darwin 1,Sidney Sussex 3, St Catharine’s 3, Churchill 3

4th VIII up one and down one to stay 85th
Bumped LMBC 9, rowed over twice, bumped by Sidney Sussex 4

1st Ladies IV up six to 21st
Bumped St Catharine’s, Girton 3 (over Girton 4 and Hughes Hall), Fitzwilliam, Wolfson

2nd Ladies IV up one to 44th
Rowed over, Bumped 1st & 3rd Trinity 2, rowed over twice

Extract from the Master’s Speech at the annual gathering, June 1981

Among the sporting achievements of the year I must give pride of place to be successes of the boat club in the May Races, which can only be described as sensational. The 1st VIII made three bumps, the 2nd five, the 3rd four and the 1st Ladies boat, not to be outdone, contrived to go up six places in four nights by dint of an overbump. It is not often, I am afraid, that Caius rowing is commended in the national press but the Times singled out the fact the 1st VIII is now sixth on the river and in a higher position than for 60 years. So our boat, which for so many years has belonged to the upper middle class, is climbing into the ranks of the aristocracy. With one or to more years like this we might see the return of the great days of Caius rowing, for which I am afraid we must look back as far as the 1840s, and in which an outstanding figure was William Brett, the future Lord Esher, whose portrait is hanging here in Hall and who was as fine an oarsman in his youth as he was a judge in his maturity.

On 18 June, 1981 Ollie Stobbs was fatally injured when his car was in collision with a run-away horse at Newmarket. He had rowed in Three 1st May VIIIs and Four 1st Lent VIIIs between 1974 and 1977 and had been a fanatical supporter and coach afterwards.


Extract from the Master’s Speech at the annual gathering, June 1982

Our athletes have had an energetic year, and on the river although we have had no major triumph the Caius star is still in the ascendant with a total of 19 bumps recorded. The 1st Lent VIII has a phenomenal turn of speed combined with remarkable economy of energy, since they made four bumps, none of which took them more than three minutes. So we had high hopes for the Mays, where we was starting sixth, a higher position than Caius had had for 50 years. But alas, on the second night the rudder was fouled by a floating branch and the good ship went out of control. Had it not been for this act of God, on whom such things can conveniently be blamed, we would almost certainly have gone up to fifth place, but that is one of the might-have-beens of history.

Lent Races 1982

1st VIII up four to 11th
Bumped Sidney Sussex, Peterhouse, Magdalene, Selwyn
Cambridge Evening News (Saturday 27/2/82) At the bottom of the division Caius are also after their oars, and are competing with Downing to see how few strokes they can do it in, yesterdays victims were Magdalene “just out of Bovis Bridge”

2nd VIII up one to 26th
Rowed over, Bumped King’s 1, rowed over twice

3rd VIII up two to 59th
Rowed over, Bumped 1st & 3rd Trinity 4, Addenbrooks 1, rowed over

1st Ladies VIII up one, down three to 17th (sandwich boat)
Bumped Sidney Sussex, Bumped by Sidney Sussex, Christ’s, Darwin

May Races 1982

1st VIII down one to seventh
Rowed over, Bumped by Pembroke, rowed over twice

2nd VIII up two to 28th
Rowed over twice, Bumped Trinity Hall 2, 1st & 3rd Trinity 2

3rd VIII up two to 50th
Rowed over twice, Bumped King’s 2, Queens’ 3

4th VIII down two to 91st
Bumped by Downing 4, rowed over, Bumped by Magdalene 5, LMBC 9

1st Ladies IV up three to 18th
Bumped Newnham 3, Selwyn 2, rowed over, Bumped New Hall 3

2nd Ladies IV down one up two to
Bumped by 1st & 3rd Trinity 2, rowed over, Bumped Fitzwilliam, Churchill 3,

At Henley, A.N. Williams (Captain 1979-80, sculled in St Thomas’s Hospital colours in the Diamond Challenge Sculls, but was drawn against the Australian Champion Lovrich in the first round and progressed no further).

Carole Collins, who rowed in the early Caius Women’s crews and the University 2nd VIII (Blondie) went on to represent Great Britain

1983-84 My copy of the Caian is missing

Lent Races 1983

Letter from Tom Rochford, 27 February 1983

The women arrived at the start on Wednesday with less than 20 seconds to go, and so were pushed out crooked, with a tangled chain and not much idea of what was happening. The half length gap between them and Fitz (behind) reduced to nothing before Caius woke up to realise that the start gun had gone, but we kept going and bumped Darwin. They got another on Thursday, just missed it on Friday and rowed over again on Saturday.

An inexperienced 3rd VIII surprised everyone by closing on the crew ahead on Wednesday before being involved in a pile-up in the Gut. The stroke (John O’Conor) being flung into the Cam and the Daily Telegraph. They got the crew in the re-row, made another bump on Thursday, rowed over on Friday then bumped Downing 3, who with no rudder hit the bank.

The veteran 2nd VIII (Baart, Gunton etc) made four quick bumps, and are now the third highest 2nd VIII on the river.

And so to the 1st VIII. Four fell ill on Sunday, so when he failed to recover, Pete Dally replaced him on the Tuesday. A fairly scrappy row on Wednesday saw Selwyn close slightly on us Christ’s getting clear away. Thursday produced a better row, but Christ’s still drew away to about two or three lengths at the Plough, before we closed back to finish more or less on station. On Friday, with a fast Peterhouse crew behind us, we were especially keen to catch Christ’s and felt confident. We had a good start, and they were unable to draw away as they had done. Then on First Post Corner they were obstructed by Jesus, who had bumped out ahead. We got through, and rowed on to the finish hoping for a technical bump, but expecting a re-row. The re-row was, however, refused on the grounds that we wouldn’t have caught Christ’s anyway. Not content with this, the CUBC Secretary and President also failed to turn up to see me as we arranged, and I only tracked them down by chance to have the decision confirmed. There is to be a Captain’s meeting soon, and Baart and myself will both fling a lot of mud about this.

Saturday saw us out for Christ’s, chased by Peterhouse. We went off well, but Christ’s bumped out fairly early. Peterhouse closed to about half a length in the Plough, where they had made all their other bumps. They then kept producing pressure ‘tens’, but Caius always held them off in a superb row all the way to the finish, which I won’t forget in a long while. It was a really gutsy, level-headed row from a crew which, on paper, shouldn’t have stood a chance in the Bumps. Two novices from last term, a sub the day before the races, only two 1st Lent or May colours (one of them the sub) etc. etc. All that, and the fact that stroke and five were both ill on Saturday with some fairly unpleasant stomach upset.

So, all in all, a surprisingly successful Bumps – nine bumps made, none conceded. And of course a memorable dinner afterwards.

May Races 1983

1st VIII up three, down two to sixth
Rowed over, bumped Pembroke (over Emmanuel, Jesus), bumped by Emmanuel, Pembroke
This rare First Division overbump was due to the Pembroke rudder being fouled by a floating branch

2nd VIII up four to 22nd
Bumped Magdalene 2, Clare 2, Trinity Hall 2, Emmanuel 2

3rd VIII up three

Henley 1983

Ladies Plate
Lost to Jesus ‘B’ by 1/2 length, winners time 7min 12sec, Caius leading at Fawley
Bow R.A. Warne 2 P.D. Hickman 3 G.S. Dodge 4 M de la R. Gunton 5 C.J.R. van de Velde 6 P.A. Dally 7 N.P.D. Upton Stroke J.S.Mair Cox T.N.B. Rochford

Captain J.W.N. Read
Honorary Secretary S. A. Kirkpatrick
Vice Captain N.J. Taffinder
Captain of Lower Boats P.S. Gordon
Ladies Captain J. Shrewry

With no experienced freshman coming up this year, the returning members of the boat club, including four May Colours (with another being involved in University trials from the beginning of term) and four from a very strong 2nd May VIII set to work in October to train in small boats in preparation for the University IVs competition. This saw the coxed IV unlucky to be knocked out in the second round; but the light IV cruised right through to the final, losing a very close race with Clare, perhaps due more to surprise at being in the situation than lack of speed, and decided to end the race by steering into the bank rather than reach the finish second.

Both IVs then travelled down to London to race in the Tideway Head, the one coming 65th and the other being the fastest college coxed IV and subsequently combined for the Fairbairn VIII. Some very solid and lengthy water training and a stepped up land programme to provide much-needed extra fitness brought us an excellent result, the 1st VIII going off hard to finish second behind Pembroke, having started tenth and catching Clare by the Bovis Bridge – suitable revenge for an earlier defeat. A hastily formed 2nd VIII rowed with unexpected composure and rose ten places. The women’s VIII won the restricted class coming fifth out of a larger field than usual.

And influx of 62 Novices at the start of the Michaelmas term stretched coaching resources (and the boatman’s toolbox) to the limit, but a good novice ‘A’ VIII came third in their Fairbairn race and in the Clare Novice Regatta went out to the eventual winners in the semi-final, while the Ladies VIII stormed through the heats to win in fine form.

The Lent VIII, plagued by accident and late University trials, lasted only three weeks as initially constituted, but managed in that time to show its potential by winning the Pembroke Regatta convincingly by three lengths from Clare in the final. The 7-man then obtained crutches and a plaster cast; the Captain J. W. N. Reid was lost to University trials, eventually being selected for the Goldie crew (G. S. Dodge was also awarded a Trial Cap) and just before the races a further two of the crew were confined to their beds with food poisoning. Fortunately, experienced substitutes were available and the 1st VIII, in spite of everything bumped Christ’s to finish ninth, the bowman making doubly sure by striking the cox in the back after a dubious umpire’s decision not to allow the bump the previous day. The 2nd VIII composing entirely of Novices went down three places to blade-winning crews, and a hard-working Rugby VIII rose three and the Ladies benefitting from some well-built novices, gained four bumps and their blades.

In the May term, the crew came once again under the guidance of Chris George, we drew up a comprehensive training programme using the experience gained the previous year to introduce flexibility in the form of greater freedom for the coaches on the spot to make useful changes. The peculiarities of rowing on the Cam were thus provided for and the result was a very crew-like, if not expertly technical 1st VIII. The few weeks before the bumps, the potential of the crew was evident in the Cambridge Regatta, where Trinity Hall was trounced and a brave fight put up against Pembroke, future Head crew. The classroom seemed to hold no greater attraction for the 1st VIII despite approaching examinations, so this success was consolidated in the next few weeks by a high workload of speed training.

On the first day of the bumps, revenge was sought against 1st & 3rd Trinity for the failures of 1984 and sheer aggression brought it in the Gut, despite a very late acknowledgement by the Trinity cox. A much more controlled and ruthless row on the second day saw Trinity Hall bumped opposite the Plough after a stiff fight, leaving the crew to chase Lady Margaret on the third day. Without the proper change in approach and attitude, the crew got only within three-quarters of a length, but on the last day, better prepared psychologically 1st VIII threw everything into the row and made up all but three feet on ‘Maggie’. They still refused to give in, but the result nevertheless left Caius at fifth, the highest finishing position since 1922.

The 2nd May VIII, virtually unchanged since the Lents, profited from more consistent training and coaching, gaining great speed by the time of races and fully deserved the four places they moved up, bumping two 1st VIIIs to win their blades. The 4th VIII also won their blades, more through brute force than skill and the 3rd Rugby VIII moved up three places. The Ladies 1st IV went up one place overall as did the 2nd IV.

After a week’s debauchery the 1st VIII with two substitutes began training for Henley. Lack of funds meant that the crew had to stay in Cambridge right up until the qualifying race, with further substitutes for members of the crews who could not be in Cambridge for that period. Nevertheless with the last drop of Pimm’s out of the bloodstreams the crew did find its feet again, the necessary racing spirit was inculcated by Chris George and the VIII qualified (with a fast unofficial time) along with five other Cambridge and one Oxford College for the Thames Cup (the entry qualifications changed in 1984 to attract the stronger Student and Club crews into the Ladies Challenge Plate). The first round race, against Cambridge ’99 club saw the crew down by about half a length, not rowing on form, all the way up the course. However, by the Mile Post we pulled level, the town crew ‘blew up’ and in the next 40 strokes we drew nearly two lengths clear [Verdict one and two-thirds lengths, time 7min 1sec]. In the second round tough opposition appeared in the shape of University College Galway, Irish University Champions, and despite a good clean rowed Caius went down by about two lengths [Verdict two and a quarter lengths, no time taken]. Despite this, the crew had good reason to feel pleased with its performance and with five returning May colours next year and virtually the whole of the 2nd VIII hopes must be high for even greater successes in the bumps, particularly if plans to train consistently all year round, under Chris George, with occasional rowing camps on the Tideway come to fruition.

At present the Boat Club is engaged in launching an appeal to provide funds over and above what small amount the Amalgamated Clubs can provide, so success at the high level the club has now reached is possible. Caians are invited to participate in this and any contributions will be gratefully received and effectively used.

1st IV
Bow P.S. Gordon 2 J.W.N. Read (Steers) 3 N.J. Taffinder Stroke S.A. Kirkpatrick

1st Lent VIII
Bow A. Strowbridge 2 P.Hickman 3 R. Lewis 4 R. Payn 5 G.S. Dodge 6 N.J. Taffinder 7 A.Simon Stroke P.S. Gordon Cox G. Duff

1st May VIII
Bow A. Hobart 2 A. Strowbridge 3 P.S. Gordon 4 N. Campbell 5 R. Payn 6 J.W.N. Read 7 N.J. Taffinder Stroke S.A. Kirkpatrick Cox G. Duff

Ladies 1st May IV
Bow J. Graham 2 J. Shrewry 3 L. Geary Stroke D. Bethell Cox T. Harris

2nd May VIII
Bow A. Brooks 2 C. Shore 3 N. Downing 4. M. Crundwell 5. G. Budden 6 P. Rawlins 7 T.R. Portwood Stroke D. Griffin Cox M. Holgate

Henley VIII
Bow a Hobart 2 A. Strowbridge 3 P. Rawlins 4 N. Campbell 5. R. Payn 6 J.W.N. Read 7 G.S. Dodge Stroke S.A. Kirkpatrick Cox G. Duff

Congratulations are due to Members of the Club who represented the University J. W. N. Reid for a Goldie Cap
G. S. Dodge for a Trial Cap
A Hobart for a Lightweight Cap and his election to President, CULRC

Officers for 1985-86 
Captain: S.A. Kirkpatrick
Secretary: G. Budden
Vice Captain: R. Payn
Captain of Lower Boats: A. Strowbridge
Ladies Captain: D. Bethell


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