“There is a lot to make me smile” - Boat Club President’s Report

by Tom Dawson on 13 July 2016


As the academic year of 2015/2016 comes to a close I have taken this opportunity to look back on my time at Lucy Cavendish, in particular as outgoing President of the College Boat Club, and as I do there is a lot to make me smile.

When I first arrived in Cambridge back in 2013 I had to do a quick google search to make sure Lucy Cavendish actually had a Boat Club – on finding, much to my relief, that it did I immediately signed up for training and started looking forward to the opportunity to compete again in events like Bumps! This is a format of rowing race that is unlike any other: due to the number of Colleges and the narrow nature of much of the Cam and Isis rivers, Oxford and Cambridge developed bumps racing – crews line up with a boat length and a half between them, a canon fires, and everyone starts at the same time with the aim of ‘bumping’ (that is catching) the boat ahead before they are ‘bumped’ by the boat behind. If you bump every day you get blades, if you get bumped every day you get spoons. It is unpredictable, exciting, rather crazy, and I love it.

My first outing with HHLCCBC, despite being somewhat wobbly, introduced me to a group of girls who were welcoming, enthusiastic, and having been bumped (several times...) in the last year’s races, were dedicated and determined to make the boat move faster, to get that bump. Under the guidance of our new coach Hannah, W1 went on to get blades that year, twice.

That dedication and determination has continued and over the last couple of years the Boat Club has expanded in size and successes. This year we had record numbers of novices signing up in Michaelmas Term – Poly, our Lower Boats Captain, had her work cut out organising sessions, entering races, and coaching! But it paid off: all three novices crews produced excellent performances, winning races, and with NW1 even coming second in their category of Queens’ Ergs! The seniors meanwhile entered Uni Fours for the first time, borrowing a boat from Rob Roy, and achieved top-ten finish positions in Cambridge Winter Head and the Fairbairn Cup. In Lent Term it was time for the novices to join the senior squad and we all started intensive training together in preparation for Lent Bumps. The hard work and early mornings showed: W2 bumped Catz II, Darwin II, FaT II, and Queens’ II to get Blades! And W1 moved up five places (bumping Homerton, Selwyn, King’s, Magdalane, and Trinity Hall) to also win Blades and enter Division 1 for the first time ever! To round off the term W1 then went on to compete in the Women’s Head of the River Race on the Tideway in London. This is a 6.8km race that regularly attracts over 300 crews from around the world. We finished 83rd, a huge improvement on last year’s 146th, and the third fastest Oxbridge college.

We returned after the Easter holiday determined to continue the momentum built up last term. This was helped along with the arrival of the newest addition to the boat club family: Lucky Lucy, a recently refurbished eight for W2. Last year we sadly had to say goodbye to our novice boat Lady Charlotte, leaving us with just two boats for the entire squad. Fortunately Emeritus Fellow Lindsey Traub stepped in. Her generous donation allowed for the purchase of Lucky Lucy and for us to have three competitive crews training. Lucky Lucy, under the watchful eye of our new W2 coach Rachel, quickly lived up to her name, winning her first race in the Head of the Cam! W1, with the addition of our Blues Rowers Myriam Goudet and Peta Blundell, also put in good pre-bumps performances, winning both Champs VIIIs (for the third year in a row) and Xpress Head.

Then it was time for May Bumps itself! Before the first day of racing arrived we were already very excited: W3 had posted an excellent time in the Getting On Race qualifying them for May Bumps for the first time ever! They had a great week of racing, holding off some fast crews behind them and only being bumped by a vMay Bumps 2016ery strong Wolfson W2 crew who went on to get blades. W2 starting off 2nd in Division 4 knew they were going to have a tough couple of days if they wanted to achieve their aim of moving up into Division 3. Day One ended with a hard row-over behind Clare Hall W1, but the each of the following days saw a bump with the crew finishing 16th in Division 3! W1 also had a frustrating Day One: Robinson very quickly bumped Sidney Sussex ahead of them meaning they would have to go for the over bump, but with neither crew clearing the river W1 were forced to stop and awarded a technical row-over. The rest of the week went more smoothly: W1 bumped very quickly every day, never having to row further than First Post Corner (or for about 60 seconds). Overall, a very good Bumps for all crews!

Altogether this meant that HHLCCBC won the 2015-2016 Michell Cup for the Best Performance on the River over the course of the academic year. All that remains for me to say now is how proud I am of what LCCBC has achieved this year. This all comes down to the wonderful support offered by both the College (special mention has to go to Jackie Ashley, Jo Ryan, and Karen Ottewell) and our wonderful donors, particularly Lindsey Traub and Dame Veronica Sutherland, without whom we would not have the resources or equipment to train or enter races. Our coaches Hannah and Rachel have done wonderful jobs this year of pulling together great crews. I also need to thank my wonderful committee: April and Maria who have kept the club going behind the scenes, Poly for so enthusiastically getting so many novices involved and organising such successful Lower Boats campaigns, and finally Stella for actually getting us out training! Thanks too to the Hughes committee, particularly Sally whose collaboration and effort has made everything easier. Finally, to everyone who picked up a blade or cox box this year: it is your hard work that made those boats go faster, that got you that bump.

Sarah Roe, College Boat Club President 2015/2016