Racing Fairbairns: From the novice to university lightweight through CUWBC Dev Squad

For the first time in many years, CUWBC returned to its roots on the Cam to race Fairbairns – a 4300m course starting at Jesus college boat house. CUWBC I and II were matched openweight crews, but still managed to be first and second women’s eights of the day! CUWBC I came out slightly ahead of the other crew, with a time that would have been 8th fastest in the men’s eight category! Cox of this crew, Catriona, said “Where we really capitalised on this race was the bends, the cam is a tricky course but instead of hiding away from the difficult steering we really attacked each bend, and I think that’s where we made the most ground on other crews”. The athletes used this race as vital preparation for their battle on the Tideway next Monday 10th December for Trial Eights.
CUWBC III was a crew of our lightweight squad and came a strong 4th overall in women’s eights. This crew contained many girls who had raced Fairbairns as novices for their colleges last year, but after less than a year of rowing have managed to progress through our development program to be part of the current lightweight team. Catherine walker, who noviced at Caius in 2017, talks about Fairbairns this year and her journey through the CUWBC Development squad.
CUWBC and CULRC racing Fairbairns saw some members of the squad returning to where they had learnt to row when they came to Cambridge. The CUR development squad system has provided a great path to university level rowing for college rowers, whether in their first year of rowing or more experienced. Through development squad ergs in both Michaelmas and Lent the doors of Goldie are opened to allow all to receive top coaching from the CUR coaching team. Opportunities to race are also afforded with CUW fielding both beginner and intermediate fours at BUCS in 2018 as well as a development 4+ at Henley Women’s. Dev Squad reaches its peak in summer with four weeks spent both sculling and sweeping, culminating in racing at Kingston Regatta. The development squad system is a great way to meet rowers from other colleges, as well as improving technique and getting a sense of what it might be like to trial. The success of dev squad graduates in recent years is testament to the strength of the opportunities provided by CUW. (I can’t remember the exact figures for how many people had done dev squad in the boat races last year, but feel free to stick them in)

My own experience of Dev Squad was having noviced in Michaelmas 2017.
Signing up to the open Dev Squad ergs I never anticipated it would lead to me trialling for the lightweight women for the 2018/19 season. Winning gold at Beginner BUCS marked the first time I’d ever progressed through the first round of racing. The experience of racing in light blue was such an honour and provided much excitement at the start of exam term. Ending May Week racing at Henley Women’s Regatta before spending four warm weeks in Cambridge taking part in Summer Dev Squad was a great culmination to my first year of rowing. CUW provides excellent opportunities to both explore how far you can push your rowing and how rewarding it can be whether you think trialling is for you or you’re just curious to see where your rowing could progress to.’

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