History 1995-2000

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Despite a poor performance in the Mays and Henley, this year could not be described as a bad one for CBC. The blade-winning Lents VIII finishing second and the Fairbairn VIII, minus two of the club’s best oarsmen, coming second also must record this as a good year with some excellent results in other competitions. Morale has been up and down, as it always has to be in such close, intense groups of people, and disasters in the form of illness and banana milkshakes have not helped.

The year started gently with training and racing in small boats for the first half of term. Pots were collected at Cambridge Small Boats Head in various IVs and Pairs. In the University IVs competition Caius entered three competitive boats, the fastest of which was knocked out by the eventual winners in the semi-final.

Once in the VIII things went well and the first speed test was at the Cambridge Winter Head where we won comfortably over most of our college rivals. Things looked good for the Fairbairn race, but Trinity 1st and 3rd managed to find an extra 30 seconds in those two weeks and beat us comfortably on the day (along with an Addenbrookes boat stacked with old blues!).

The New Year for CBC started a week into 1996 at Twickenham Rowing Club in London. This was an eventful week with capsizing launches and some good rowing. Back at college the VIII was chosen swiftly and training began well. It did not out, however, continue so well, as it became very cold through January and February, freezing the Cam and other rivers in the region. Thus training was greatly impaired and races cancelled. Our form was finally tested at a revised Cambridge Head-to-Head, which we won convincingly.

On the Friday directly before the bumps our stroke came down badly with fever and it looked as those things were going again. Against the odds, however, a substitute and crew change with three days training proved enough to win us four bumps, and visible proof that we were faster than the Downing crew which (just) remained head. Caius starts second in the Lent Races this year and I would encourage any old members of CBC or the college to come and cheer the VIII on for the headship next February.

A different crew was collected together to stay up in training for the Head of The River Race, including three 2nd VIII men. The crew finished in 68th place ahead of all other Oxbridge colleges and our highest position for six years.

The May crew was chosen carefully and early – before term began. Training was particularly tough and we had a trip to Peterborough to train on the Nene with a new coach, Bill Parker. The VIII also split into two IVs that were raced and trained in to improve general boatmanship. At Nottingham City Regatta no medals were won but several second and third places, our opposition (Durham University) being of a different class. In Bedford the next weekend the VIII and IV won their senior 2 events. After this, one member of the crew managed to cut two tendons in his hand whilst making a banana milkshake. Two weeks before the bumps luck was not on our side. Another last-minute substitution and we were narrowly beaten by Churchill at the Cambridge Regatta. They went on to win. In the May races the crew never rowed to its full ability and went down one. At Henley, in a slightly different crew, we qualified but were beaten easily in the first-round by a strong Nottingham University crew. I would like to say thank you to all the coaches who have generously given us their time this year, especially Tony Baker and Martin Blakemore who “ran the show”.

Alistair Flett, CBC Captain 1995-96

Officers for 1996-97
Captain Paul Rutkowski
Vice Captain Jeremy Morris
Treasurer Daniel Edwards
Lower Boats Captain Tom Fardon

The women’s side of the boat club had a very mixed year. We proved by the Mays that we had a very steep learning curve!

Michaelmas term was definitely our low point. We started the year with approximately seven rowers – only two of whom had ever rowed in a 1st VIII before – and no coxes. The large number of novices held some promise for the future but in the lead-up to Fairbairns things weren’t looking great for the senior women. After a couple of injuries we were only able to enter a IV. Although the boat finished last out of five the times were only separated by a few seconds.

For the Lent Bumps things looked brighter. We had a strong squad of keen novices and after failing to make the final lightweight crew I returned to row for college. The plan for the term was to enter several races as the crew was still inexperienced. However the weather failed to oblige and every race we entered was called off. When the Bumps arrived we therefore had very little idea as to how we compared to the competition. The 1st VIII had an eventful four days. We came within half a length of bumping Pembroke – a boat containing two Blues-however in true Bumps style we ended up being bumped by Downing after someone caught a crab. The next three days saw us challenging Downing to within half a length and then bumping Selwyn on Saturday. Despite the initial disappointment of Wednesday the crew were very happy with their performance, especially considering the state of the club the term before. The 2nd VIII had a disappointing bumps – going down four – possibly due to lack of land training!?

May term was to see the culmination of our development. With two crew changes to the 1st VIII we entered several races, often changing at crew order at the last minute just to add a bit of variety! We won the Cambridge Head. Although not that many colleges entered, this was still achieved after only one week’s training. We then reached the final at Nottingham. Finally we won the novice category at Bedford. The bumps were a final triumph – seeing Sidney Sussex, St Catharine’s and Magdalene all falling to us in the first three days. On the final day we unfortunately missed blades, getting to within 3/4 of a length of Downing who then managed to hold us off – a familiar story! The 2nd VIII had an unfortunate draw, being made sandwich boat at the last minute. The crew rowed brilliantly, ending where they started partly due to a very strong CCAT boat who remained an obstacle throughout the four days.

All in all, the women’s side of the club has made a remarkable recovery from its weak and depleted position at the start of the year. A special mention must go to Tony Baker who made a long-awaited returned to coaching women’s boats; I think we soon proved we were a lot more than a “bunch of girls”!

Helen Gearing, Ladies Captain 1995-96

Officers for 1996-97 
Ladies Captain: Rhiannon Turner
Ladies Lower Boats Captain: Joe Rose
Ladies Secretary: Fiona Townend


This has been a great building and groundbreaking year for CBC, culminating in blades and a second position on the river in the May bumps. A building year because for most of the first two terms we had to compete without four of the Club’s best oarsmen who were away on University boat club business – Dunstan Bertschinger, Paul Cunningham, Ali Flett, and Seb Korbei – and a ground breaking year because for the first time in a number of years we had two rowers in Goldie (Paul and Seb).

The Michaelmas term began as ever by training and racing in small boats. For the University IVs races Caius entered three crews, the top two being of an equal standard. The idea was therefore, because we were without the four oarsmen mentioned previously, to use the University IVs races to bring on the squad as a whole with the aim of competing not necessarily to win the University IVs but to produce an VIII of high quality to race in the Fairbairn Cup. In the University IVs as expected, we had limited success, with one IV reaching the semi-finals. However the IVs were not slow and the other 1st IV went on to win the Cambridge Winter Head.

The move into the VIII work well, as planned, and we were confident on the day of the Fairbairn race. The crew did very well, finishing as the second fastest college behind the winning Downing crew, which retained most of their oarsmen from the boat which took the Mays headship last year, and an Addenbrookes crew which was packed full of old blues.

High hopes were held for the Lent Bumps with Caius starting at number two in the first division and our sights set on headship. However, we were still without the boys in the CUBC squad, and unfortunately due to work pressures and other commitments five of the Michaelmas VIII were forced to stay off the river for this term. The omens seemed foreboding and when the big January freeze caused the cancellation of the intensive training week we had planned on the Nene in Peterborough and the first two weeks of Cam rowing, the prospects looked somewhat bleak. The crew trained hard together all term, but without much experience and a lack of mileage together due to the ice, the poor results obtained in the term’s races were not unexpected. The bumps arrived and although we managed a row over on the first day despite Christ’s being overlapped on us most of way down the course, we disappointingly dropped three places over the following days. Although this situation was a little sad after winning blades the previous year, I feel it must be looked upon as a valuable opportunity for those that rowed in the crew to have gained experience. In fact two of the rowers and the cox were novices and five out of the nine in the boat were freshman.

As a prelude to the May term, Caius again put a crew together for the Head of The River Race. One change was ringed from the Lent VIII and the two weeks of training before the race went well. However as the crew had not significantly changed for the Lents, we would have done well to maintain out starting position of 67 and inevitably we dropped a disappointing 97 places to 150th. We did manage though, to beat quite a few of the other Cambridge Colleges that had entered and we do retain our right to automatic entry for next year’s race.

Preparation for the Mays began in earnest a week before term. With certainly the best turn out for the trials week that I have seen in my time Caius, there was stiff opposition for places in both of the top two VIIIs. Eventually, after 2000m ergo testing and many sets of seat racing, the crews were selected. There was an air of confidence in all crews as we embarked upon the term’s training. Both crews went to Nottingham and Bedford to race and although no victories were recorded valuable racing experience was gained by all.

The run into the bumps went smoothly and the VIII was looking fast. In a splendid four days or rowing Caius won blades, rising four places for the first time since 1968, finishing second on the river and from many of the spectators winning the accolades of the fastest crew on the river. In fact, as last year in the Lents, when we bumped the second place crew they had significantly closed on Downing to within a length, thus providing visible proof that we were indeed faster than the headship boat. Next year at least five out of the eight rowers and the cox will be returning to do battle for the headship, and I am certain that we will achieve it. Therefore, if at all possible I would encourage old members of CBC and the College to come and support the VIII next year.

Unfortunately, Caius has been unable to enter a boat for Henley this year because of the many commitments the people in the boat have, including three of the crew rowing in a Goldie crew in the Temple Challenge Cup [Which they won, the first Caius oarsmen to do so at Henley Royal Regatta since 1951].

Finally I would like to thank all the coaches who have generously given us their time and patience this year, and especially Tony Baker our boatman and coach who once again has given everything for Caius.

Paul Rutkowski, CBC Captain 1996-97

Officers for 1997-98
Captain Tom Fardon
Vice Captain Andrew McLean
Lower Boats Captain Simon Pilgrim
Secretary David Tait
Treasurer Jeremy Morris

Caius women have capitalised on the success of last year where we ended up by going up three in the May bumps. The beginning of this year saw us with a strong squad preparing for the University IVs with two crews. One of these got through several rounds of the competition, the other losing to a strong Trinity Hall crew in the first-round. After this point two girls went to trial for the University, so we formed a composite Fairbairn VIII with two King’s girls. This looked to be a very strong crew but was struck by a ‘flu epidemic at the last moment. Therefore a last minute scratch crew raced, including a King’s novice. However we still came seventh overall, the best Fairbairn result for several years.

The girls’ trialling up for CUWBC did very well this year, with the Fiona Townend rowing at bow for the Lightweights and Elizabeth Usher as spare for Blondie. Elizabeth was able to row with us for the Lent term, so our squad was again complete. The training camp at the beginning of term was slightly disrupted due to the Cam being frozen solid. When we eventually found an unfrozen stretched downstream, our novices were toughened up when seven of them fell in! In the end however we were able to train, and selected two crews. Due to very cold and windy conditions that lasted all term the 2nd VIII were unable to get out very often. They raced in the Getting On Race for the Bumps, and made a good time, only narrowly failing to gain a place.

The 1st VIII competed in many races and Regattas during the term, coming second in almost all of them. As a crew we were only ever beaten by the ladies of Pembroke (who won the Fairbairn Cup) and Emmanuel (who are the Lent Headship crew). In the bumps we performed very well, never racing past First Post Corner on any day, and winning blades by bumping Downing, Sidney Sussex, Clare and Girton. After the bumps we also went to the Women’s Head of The River Race between Mortlake and Putney. Caius women have not been to this race for many years, and we rowed very well, comparing favourably with other crews.

The May term saw a squad eager to do were as well in the May Bumps as we had in the Lents. Again we had a short pre-term training camp, with the 1st VIII selected in time for the Head of the Cam, in which we were the fastest Cambridge College crew for the second consecutive year. Other races of the term should have included the Nottingham Regatta, which was cancelled due to boat-sinking conditions, and the Bedford Amateur Regatta. In the first-round all this we suffered equipment failure early in the race. Stern 6 managed to hold opponents for 800m, and we lost by only half a length.

In the bumps we were gained chasing a now strengthened Downing crew. We proved to be evenly matched and were forced to row over for two days before bumping New Hall and Homerton on the Friday and Saturday. Friday’s race was made more exciting when we broke our bows on the way to the start. A quick fix allowed us to race, but the bump took considerably longer than it should have due to our bows being virtually submerged meaning that we had to row against a very large bow wave – it was hard work! The 2nd VIII took some time to assemble and really only ever came about due to the hard work of Jo Rose, Lower Boats Captain. The crew went up one overall, bumping twice and being bumped on the last day by a very strong 1st & 3rd Trinity crew. They also had more fun than anyone else on the river!

five girls trialled for the CUWBC 1997 development squad, and all five gained a place, with one girl in the ‘A’ crew and two in the ‘B’ crew. CUWBC is clearly going to be greatly strengthened by the success of Caius Women. In my new capacity as Honorary Secretary of CUWBC I hope to help the success of CUWBC to be passed back down into College rowing, hoping of calls that Caius will benefit most of all!

In the last three sets of bumps we have gone up a total nine places, and have not been bumped. None of this success would be possible without the input of all our coaches, but especially Tony Baker, our boatman. He also deserves a special mention this time around for his all-night repair job on our bows! All of us at CBC owe a great deal to his dedication to the club. I look forward to seeing Caius women moving right up amongst the top class crews on the Cam over the next few years.

Rhiannon Turner, Ladies Captain 1996-97

Officers for 1997-98 
Ladies Captain Julia Davies
Lower boats Captain Julie Palmer


The 650th anniversary year has been the most successful year in CBC history. Everything CBC touched this year turned into rowing gold.

The year began as usual with novice rowing and the University trialling. This year we sent 13 people to the University trials, the most in recent history. The remaining senior oarspeople took CBC to fourth position in the Fairbairn Cup. Michaelmas is the term for novices though, and this year we hoped to improve the standard of novice rowing at Caius with the end of improving the follow-through of novices to senior rowing. Early mornings gave way to earlier mornings and then the novices reached the races. In the Clare Novice Regatta Caius finished third with equipment failure again our downfall. In the Fairbairn Cup CBC Novice VIII finished third, one place higher than last year, only one second behind second place. Next year’s aim must be to win the senior and novice Fairbairn Cups, a feat never achieved by CBC in one year.

The Lent Term began with the usual training camp held this year in Cambridge and Peterborough. Last term’s novices entered the senior squad and made up the whole of the 2nd VIII. The return of a couple of the University triallists swelled the ranks and the boat looked to be set for good things. The first test was the Cam Head to Head of 24 January. Always a good measure of what is to come, the 1st VIII came a promising second behind the swift 1st & 3rd Trinity VIII, two seconds in front of a “Blue packed” LMBC VIII. The good form continued into February as the VIII travelled to Peterborough for the Head of the Nene. With a much stronger competition the Caius VIII once again proved their speed by placing ahead LMBC once more with only 1st & 3rd the faster Cambridge crew. Pembroke Regatta gave crews the chance to prove their worth over the Sprint distance, 1000m head to head races against the bumps opposition. In the first-round Christ’s 1 who start the bumps behind us, proved to be quick off the start but after 500 m were quickly rowed through. Beating Emma 1 in the quarter-final led to a semi against LMBC who start in front of us in the Lents. After a fast start we were beaten by just under a length.

The Lent bumps saw a change in the headship for the first time in a number of years. Downing were toppled on Wednesday by 1st & 3rd Trinity who have risen nine places in nine days of Lent bumps racing. Caius 1 caught a falling Trinity Hall on Thursday and were close to catching Downing on Saturday, only a canvas saving the previous Head crew. The 2nd VIII had a successful bumps: Day one, the first day of bumps racing for all nine members of the crew, saw Queens’ 2 bumped by Caius 2 half way down the Long Reach. The following days proved to be frustrating for Caius 2. Chasing a strong Downing 2, in turn chasing the quick 1st & 3rd Trinity 2, meant two days of spirited rowing over. The last day gave the onlookers a bit scare, though, as by the Pike and Eel Corpus Christi 1st VIII had closed to within a canvas and were still moving up. Caius 2 held on to be bumped 2 metres after the finishing line, winning the rowover in nerve-wracking style. Caius 3 were cruelly denied their blades: Day one: Bumped CCAT 2 at First Post Corner. Day two: sharp coxing prevented Caius 3 hitting a stranded boat ahead of us but left them stationary for almost 20 seconds. Incredibly Caius 3 did another start and pulled away from a CCAT, which had three feet of overlap at one point. The task of overbumping with a 20 second head start was beyond the Caius crew, although they did make up a creditable 10 lengths. Day three: Bumped St Edmunds 1 at the Motorway Bridge. Day four: bumped Churchill 3 in the Gut. So denied blades and the finishing position of eighth does not guarantee a place next year but the system of getting on will put us back in eighth if we do get on again, leaving us ready to take the fourth division by storm.

CBC again competed in the Head of The River Race in March. Caius finished 98th, one place behind 1st & 3rd Trinity, winners of the Novice Pennant. We have to climb higher next year.

May term saw the return of our University oarsmen and coxswain. Lightweights David Tait and Laura Watkins returned to the club along with Seb Korbei from Goldie and Paul Cunningham from the victorious Blue boat. Paul has been particularly successful this term trialling for the Great Britain Under 23 squad. Ranked first in the coxless pair with Emmanuel oarsman John Bull, and also unbeaten in the coxless IV and VIII during trials, we are hopeful for his selection for the final VIII. With the return of Paul Cunningham came the adjustments of adapting to Paul’s busy schedule. With commitments for CBC, Goldie and the GB Under 23 squad to juggle we adopted a squad mentality for the top three VIII this year – with oarsmen rowing for all three crews. Among the oarsmen in the first Eight are one Blue, two Goldie Colours, two Lightweights Colours, three heavyweights triallists, seven of the nine who claimed their oars last year in the May bumps, one man who had only noviced in Michaelmas 1997 and one man from Oxford. The proposed 2nd VIII has two 1st May Colours, nine 1st Lent Colours, and has only one change to the crew which went up three in the Mays 1997. The 3rd VIII shows great promise for the future with mainly novices from 1997.

On 25th April the 2nd VIII entered the Head of the Cam and finished fourth behind 1st & 3rd Trinity 1, Queens’ 1 and Cambridge ’99 1. We were not only the faster 2nd VIII by over 30 seconds; we also beat ten 1st VIIIs. This shows that once again CBC has the depth of rowing talent that we hope will reinforce Caius as the foremost rowing college in Cambridge. However to be a good college boat club isn’t the final word in rowing ability – we have to face Town Clubs and School Clubs to prove our worth.

So we travelled to Holme Pierrepoint in Nottingham to the National Water Sports Centre to race in the Nottingham City Regatta. Like last year, weather was to play a large part in the racing. A strong tailwind produced fast times for crews who could cope, and was the downfall of lesser crews. The 1st VIII finished second in the Senior 2 VIIIs final, were also second in the Senior 2 coxed IV final and won the senior 3 coxed IV final. The 2nd VIII fared less well and finished a creditable third in the Novice VIIIs final and in the Senior 4 coxed IV we had a very exciting race between bow four and stern four with bow four handling the conditions somewhat better to finish ahead by half a length.

One week later we travelled to Bedford for the Amateur Regatta. The 1000m course is excellent preparation for bumps: a fast start is very important. We set off to a bad start, as the boat club trailer broke on the eve of the day’s racing. Fortunately we were able to borrow a trailer at very short notice from the Free Press Boat Club. Once at Bedford the sun came out and we had a good day’s racing. The 1st VIII were beaten in the first round by last year’s winners Bedford School in the senior 2 VIIIs but continued to win the plate event. In the senior 2 coxed IV event the 1st VIII were unlucky to be defeated in the first-round, but they also continued to win the Plate event. The 2nd VIII progressed to the semi-finals of the senior 4 VIIIs, the final of the senior 4 coxed IVs and the quarter-final of the Novice VIIIs. We were unable to enter the Plate events due to time constraints. An excellent day’s racing in the sun.

The bumps began on the 10th June with Caius most hopeful for a successful four days racing. No-one could have imagined the unprecedented successes that were to follow. Firstly we put out three crews into the Getting On Race. The Rugger VIII and the MCR VIII were both placed onto the bumps, the Maths VIII were only a few seconds behind and thoroughly enjoyed their rowing experience – hopefully many will continue next year. The 4th and 5th VIIIs as they became, were in the interesting position of chasing each other at the very foot of the sixth division. Exciting racing led to the boats both rowing over for all four days. The 3rd VIII last year were dreadfully unlucky not to get blades in the sixth division. This year the 3rd VIII were a quality unit, training as much as the 1st VIII with at least 2nd VIII speed. They started seven places higher than they finished last year due to higher crews dropping out and the trend continued. On the first day they made the quickest bump of the week, only 18 strokes needed to take the headship of the sixth division. Rowing again as the sandwich both they made their second bump of the day to take themselves into the fifth division. The following three days all provided bumps and took the 3rd VIII to the first set of blades for CBC ’98. Day two provided controversy as we bumped Corpus 3 at the Motorway Bridge only for them not to acknowledge and to move off again. After a second start, a crab and a seat falling off Caius 3 made up another three lengths to bump again at First Post. In the four days Caius 3 bumped St Catharine’s 4, Selwyn 4, Corpus 3,Wolfson 2, Queens’ 4.

Last year the 2nd VIII were cruelly denied blades due to the coxing disaster that was Emmanuel 2. This year with eight 1st VIII colours on board, the 2nd VIII trained to remove the possibility of losing out on blades. Day one – Jesus 2 on First Post Corner. Day two – Corpus 1 on Grassy Corner, meanwhile Corpus had overlapped on the King’s 1. Day three – King’s 1 on Grassy Corner. Day four = Girton 1 in the Gut. Easy work made of three 1st VIIIs and blades duly awarded. The 2nd VIII are now seventh in the second division. Hopefully next year we can make it to third and then on into the first division, a goal that we must now realistically set for the 2nd VIII.

The 1st VIII started second in the first division. On day one we caught Downing just after Grassy Corner. Possibly the fastest bump for the headship ever? Days two and three were easy row overs in front of Downing then Jesus. Day four gave us all a scare. Jesus wanted the headship and were understandably keen to catch Caius quickly. After and indifferent start from Caius, Jesus were only a canvas off at the Plough. Closing towards the Reach Jesus looked sure of the bump. However a push from Ditton Corner saw Caius push away to a length. We held them away all to the finish where the boat was met by a large crowd of Caians past and present. Headship after 11 years was a fantastic end to a fantastic week for the boat club.

All that remained was to carry the boat through Cambridge to burn in Harvey Court. The boat club dinner was the largest in recent history and certainly the most enjoyable in my time here at Caius. Without doubt the most successful year CBC has had this century and probably the most successful May bumps any college has ever had. All in the 650th Anniversary year.

Next year CBC will be presided over by David Tait, a member of the headship crew and University lightweight oarsman. I wish him the best of luck for 1998-99. It must be the priority to keep the headship in Mays 1999 but Headship in Lents and victory in the Fairbairn Cup are realistic possibilities for first time in many years.

It only remains for me to thank Tony Baker, the CBC boatman, without whom none of this would have happened and all the Coaches for the whole year for their continuing support of Caius Boat Club.

Tom Fardon Captain of Boats

The Women’s Boats

Mays of 1998 has been the most successful term for women’s rowing at Caius. Not to be upstaged by the men, all three women’s crews rowing in this term rowed in the bumps (with the 3rd VIII rowing on), and all three boats gained blades by bumping every day. We now have three permanent places in the Mays which has never been achieved before; and the first boat is now seventh on the river which is the highest position held by a Caius Women’s VIII.

The Lents term was slightly more disappointing with the 1st VIII going down three, and the 2nd VIII unlucky only to go up one. The 1st VIII came seventh in the Cam Head to Head and the 2nd VIII would have been the fastest second VIII in Newnham Regatta, had it not been for the “4 man”, who was literally a man on the day! A boat went down to London for the Women’s Head of The River Race, and came 131st overall, which was very promising for the inexperienced crew.

Caius showed promise at the beginning of the year with five people in the CUWBC development squad. Four then trialled in the Michaelmas term. Julia Davis rowed at three in Blondie, who beat Osiris by four and a half lengths. Julia Davies was made lightweight spare.

The committee next year would include Eilis Harron as Women’s Captain, and Helen Nakielny as Women’s Lower Boats Captain. I wish them well for next year and am sure that they can continue to lead Caius women to even greater heights.

Julia Davis CBC Women’s Captain

Officers for 1998-99
Captain: David Tait
Women’s Captain: Eilis Harron
Vice-Captain: Paul Steen
Secretary: Chris Wright
Treasurer: Ed Anderson
Men’s Lower Boat’s Captain: Luke Lewis
Women’s Lower Boat’s Captain: Helen Nakielny


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