On April 11 this year the Women’s Boat Race will take place on the Tideway for the very first time.
Women’s rowing at Cambridge has travelled a long journey from the first ‘races’ in the 1920s when crews were marked on ‘style’ and not timed, through the ’50s when the crews had to fight to wear shorts to row in rather than skirts, through the tough financial times in the ’80s and ’90s when there was no money to buy boats and blades and nowhere of our own to train – up to the present-day and the ground-breaking progress that will be marked on Saturday when the women’s Blue Boat will race on the Tideway course with equal standing alongside the men’s race and equal sponsorship funding for the very first time.
Our determination to break down barriers and boundaries in the face of adversity paved the way for equality for today’s women at Cambridge. Along the way our women have learnt the value of determination, discipline, resilience and teamwork, skills that helped them not just to achieve their potential on the water, but also in their personal and professional lives.
Our goal is not just to beat Oxford and win the Boat Race, but to become the leading women’s rowing university globally. That means attracting the best student athletes from around the world, recruiting expert coaches and developing a training plan that helps the next generation of women rowers to be the very best they can be, both on the water and in the lecture theatre.
We have started to put many of these elements in place but there is still much to do, and at the centre of that is Project Ely, developing a new boathouse at Ely which will enable us to train our crews to the highest possible standards.
CUWBC rowing has never stood still. Just as the standards of the Olympics continue to rise, so do the standards of university sport around the world, and we want to ensure that Cambridge women stay at the top.
Project Ely – Building a Home of our own
With over 2,000 rowers training each morning on the River Cam, CUWBC took the decision in 1999 to train on the River Great Ouse at Ely. Ely plays a vital role in our training – allowing us to row side-by-side on a straight stretch of water for over 15km without needing to turn.
We’ve developed a partnership with the men’s clubs – Cambridge University Boat Club and Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club – to build a new, shared boathouse at Ely for all Cambridge University rowers.
How you can help
CUWBC needs to raise £750,000 towards the overall £4.3m cost of Ely. Reaching our goal will not only help us to complete the Boathouse but will mean we deserve to be there on merit and can play an equal part in running the boathouse in the future.
Thanks to the generous support of our alumni we’ve already raised £189,000. This, combined with the amounts raised by the other Clubs, has meant we’ve been able to make a great deal of progress: land has been purchased, planning permission granted and the site has been levelled, power and water installed and an access road created.
Our aim is to complete our fundraising by the summer of 2015, enabling the boathouse to be open and ready for action by autumn 2016.
Ely will play a crucial role in preparing our women in the best possible way for the race of a lifetime. Please consider making a donation to help the next generation of women rowers fulfil their talent and ambitions and to make Cambridge the leading rowing university in the world.