Alumna Ostacchini Represents UK Armed Forces in King’s Cup
Christina Ostacchini represents her country in her everyday life as an RAF officer. On Friday 5th July, she’ll be representing the UK on the water in the King’s Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta against the French Armed Forces. She is one of two Cambridge alumni in the crew, the other being cox Giles Moon.
The King’s Cup began as a race between the armed forces of different nations to celebrate the end of World War I, and now 100 years later, the competition is being rebirthed in its original spirit. Christina was in the 2014 and 2015 Lightweight Women’s crews, winning in 2015 at the Henley Boat Races. We asked Christina a few questions about her experience in the RAF and her thoughts on the King’s Cup. Her answers are below:
1. Why did you decide to go into the Armed Forces?
I’d been a member of Cambridge University Air Squadron throughout my time at Cambridge – I was lucky that they were so understanding of my rowing commitments with CUWBC, and was able to concentrate on rowing in the lead up to the boat race and spend my summer learning how to fly, going on military exercises, and adventure training expeditions.
I knew that I didn’t want a regular office job after graduating and the RAF offered a meaningful career with the chance to get involved with some really interesting things all around the world.
2. What does racing in the King’s Cup mean to you?
Racing in the King’s Cup is a huge honour – it’s humbling to think that 100 years ago the Stewards of Henley decided to hold a Peace Regatta to help civil society move on from the horrors of the First World War. We’ve progressed so much in the last century in terms of international co-operation, societal change, and gender equality and I see the King’s Cup as a celebration of all these advances as well as a commemoration of all those who lost their lives in WWI.
For the UK Armed Forces crew personally, unlike some of the other nations who’ve been able to draw from a pre-existing academy rowing programme or military sponsored athletes, our boat comprises service personnel from the RAF, various difference Army units, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. Most of us had spent a few years out of serious rowing training prior to the start of the King’s Cup campaign due to our military commitments – our 3 seat even had to be flown back from Afghanistan 2 weeks before Henley!
We’ve all put in countless solo hours on the erg all over the world in the last year and had to juggle our primary commitments very carefully to enable us to train together so we’re very excited to get out on the river and show what we can do.
3. What do you enjoy most about your role in the RAF?
I joined the RAF in 2015, not long after graduating from Cambridge and so far have been able to travel around the world on coalition exercises, from Malaysia, to the USA. I’ve also been on a six month overseas deployment and then had the chance to concentrate on rowing training for the last few weeks. My favourite thing about my job is how varied it is – I’m constantly learning about different aspects of the RAF and frequently get to work with different services and nations.
4. What differences are there between rowing in an all-women’s versus a mixed crew? What’s the same?
The most obvious difference is the amount of power that goes into the water. It’s been a bit weird to go from being one of the strongest in a lightweight women’s crew to being the shortest, lightest and weakest person in a mixed boat!
What doesn’t change is the fundamentals of racing and the way the crew comes together to fight for a common goal.
5. Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be considering joining the Armed Forces?
I’ve had an incredible time in the RAF so far, and would definitely encourage women considering a career in the armed forces to go for it! There are so many different career paths, if the armed forces are something you’re interested in, you’re almost certain to find a role to match your strengths.
We’re looking forward to watching Christina race this weekend! We’ll be cheering for her from the bank and from home as she races down the course.
And a massive thank you to everyone in the Armed Forces for their service!
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