Rowing is an intrinsic part of University life at Cambridge, and Lucy Cavendish is no exception. Every year, novices sign up in Fresher’s Week, and before they know it, we’re putting them through their paces, getting ready for all the exciting Michaelmas Term races, which include the fancy dress Emma Sprints and the indoor sprinting of Queens’ Ergs. Whereas, in other undergraduate colleges, crews are likely to remain set with people staying for several years, we experience a high turnover of rowers each year. We really pride ourselves on the effort we invest in our novices in those first few crucial weeks so that they too may possibly have the opportunity to row in the First Boat come Lent Term. Most of our yearly intake are on one year courses, and as such want to have the fullest Cambridge experience; what better way than to join the University Rowing Community!
The Rowing year is incredibly condensed as it only falls in the weeks of Full Term, allowing for only 8 weeks of training, as well as competing. In Michaelmas, the first competition falls in Week Four giving the Club only 28 days to teach the novices the rowing technique, as well as the all-important ‘rowing together’. With such little time, training is very intense with the W1 (our first boat) having 3 outings a week, with 2 erg sessions, and W2 having 3 outings a week, with 2 erg session. We are also fortunate to be able to put out a weekend boat for those whose courses do not allow them to train during the week, or those who want to maintain fitness. Of course, these are only the expected sessions; most rowers will do extra fitness work, such as fitness or crew runs. We are fortunate at Lucy to have our own gym which is free for students to use and comes equipped with 8 rowing machines for the rowers to use in their free time.
This success would not have been possible without the continual support of our benefactors Dame Veronica Sutherland, former Lucy Cavendish President, and Dr Lindsey Traub. Their donations of both Speedwell and Lucky Lucy were exceptionally generous and we are very grateful for two such wonderful gifts.
Of course, it’s not all early icy mornings and exhausting ergs: we also organize fortnightly pub meets and swaps with other college boat clubs, where we can all share the joys and frustrations of rowing. Although training is important, the social aspect is even more so, as it gives you an opportunity to get to know the people in your crew and in the boat club. When we row, we are working not just for ourselves but for each other. A crew can achieve so much more when they work together as a unit.
With the numerous successes at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games for our national squads over the past decade, rowing has become a sport not just for the elite of the public schools but for everyone. Women’s rowing especially is coming more to the foreground of the public media, with the Women’s University Boat Race moving from Henley to the Thames. Since 2015, they have raced the same course as the Men’s crews, giving the event greater prominence in the Sporting Calendar. Katherine Grainger, the most successful female rower in the UK, didn’t win her Gold medal till she was 37 and only started rowing once she went to Edinburgh University. There has never been a better time to strap your feet into the foot straps and get your hands on that blade – so come and join the Lucy Cavendish Boat Club!