Bumps to the Boat Race: College rowers already making waves in 2020 Boat Races campaign.


We are one month into building a new team for the 2020 Boat Races.  The student athletes are working hard under the careful eye of Chief Coach Robert Weber.   CUWBC President Larkin Sayre (Emmanuel College) and CULRC President Teague Smith (Girton College) are developing the positive and competitive team culture needed to ensure every student athlete becomes the best version of themselves.

We have 26 of 31 Cambridge College Boat Clubs represented within the team,.  Many of the new generation of Light Blue rowers joined via the CUWBC & CULRC Development Squad following a season learning to row with their College.

Impact of College rowing on University Boat Races


The existence and continued success of the University Light Blues depends on the College Boat Club system.  CUWBC and CULRC are very proud of their close links with this incredible rowing community, whose support continues to be essential for the university clubs to produce winning crews for The Boat Race.

College rowing is where hundreds of young people learn to love rowing each October.  The warm welcome and inclusive nature of the college boat clubs ensures ‘Freshers’ (and any new Cambridge students) are enticed out of the library, off the fields or out of swimming pools into a boat!  The sight of the novice boats zig-zagging their way through the mist on the early morning Cam showcases the accessibility of our sport for every student.

Assistant Coach Patrick Ryan has been leading the Development Squad programme over the past few years.  The programme encourages novice athletes to take the step up from College rowing to the university team.  Collaboration with the College Coaches continues to give more young women and men the support they need to progress.   As President Larkin Sayre comments

“So many of our athletes either learned to row at their college and are heavily involved in either coaching or Bumps rowing. Over 20 CUWBC triallists either rowed in Mays 2019 or coached crews to glorious Bumps campaigns. The colleges and town clubs are an incredible support structure! “

New team member, Emma Pike (Emmanuel College) shares her experience of learning to row and joining CUWBC,

“I learnt to row last year at Emmanuel College Boat Club, being part of Novice Women 1 in Michaelmas term and then W1 in Lent and May term. During this time it was obvious how much I enjoyed training and racing.  It was an easy progression to Development Squad ergs at Goldie Boathouse.  This led to the Development Squad Camp in the summer. Throughout the year I have received a lot of support from my College Boat Club to push myself to be stronger and faster whilst still maintaining the most important part- enjoyment!

After a successful May Bumps campaign, and a fun few weeks in Dev Squad, I knew I wanted to further progress my rowing by trialling for the university team. Trialling seemed quite daunting to start with, but already knowing the routine from camp in the summer and the friendly supportive atmosphere meant I quickly settled in.”


Each year, the team has experienced student athletes training and rowing with those new to the sport.  This is an exciting dynamic for the coaching and support team.  Our coaches work hard to field the best possible crews from a squad that has a diverse and exciting mix of talent from novices to experienced international standard oarswomen and men.

This new generation of rowers are inspired by the women and men who have gone before.  The current team look to recent alumni who were racing at the 2019 World Championships.  With six alumni winning medals and seats for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Regatta in Tokyo.  This number includes recent alumna Imogen Grant (Trinity College) who learned to row as a Fresher with First and Third Boat Club.


Who knows how many Future Blues (or even Olympians) will be starting their rowing journey this October along the River Cam.

2020 celebrates the  75th Women’s and 45th Lightweight Men’s Boat Races