It may be just the men’s and women’s openweight crews that feature in the broader public’s gaze in the Gemini Boat Race, but realistically that’s only a fragment of the wider work carried out at Goldie Boathouse.
One of the most important and growing aspects has been the Development Squad, which creates a possible route to the Blue Boats and the lightweight first crews.
Of course, not every rower who walks through the doors to the boat club will find a place in one of the crews, but the aim is to help them develop and make the most of their abilities.
Bill Lucas, Men’s Assistant Coach explains:
“We have three talent streams in terms of people coming in – undergrads and postgrads that come to Cambridge with a rowing background and those who learn to row at their respective colleges.
In the United States, these rowers are often referred to as ‘walk-ons’ – as they would be athletes who have not previously rowed.”
The system at Cambridge means that ‘walk-ons’ would first pick up an oar at their colleges, but the CUBC development squad would then get up and running with some land training sessions at the end of the Michaelmas term.
“Traditionally, it’s a big part of bringing in new guys. This year, we’ve got a really big group of development squad guys between the heavyweights and lightweights.”
It’s an important way for guys that have noviced at college but are interested in trialling and want to be a part of the Boat Race, that’s their way in.”
The hopefuls are taught some of the fundamentals about what day-to-day trialling may look like, the standards that can be expected, and aims to put them in a stronger position if they do decide to join the trialling process the following academic year. It is a vital part of the club.
“We know each year that more guys turn up than we have seats available for them. The top eight guys will make the Blue Boat. There will be guys that miss out, but they are no less important to us in terms of it is that squad’s year and they make the culture their own.
Everyone that signs up to trial is a part of that. It’s definitely not limited to the Blue Boat alone. It’s the whole squad that creates that culture and reinforces that day to day.”
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