Developmental psychology, machine learning and computer vision, classical art and archaeology, and engineering driver vehicle dynamics. They are a is a broad range of subjects for the four Cambridge University Boat Club presidents this academic year.
Caoimhe Dempsey and Ollie Boyne are leading the women’s and men’s openweight squads respectively, while Daphne Martin and Harry Fieldhouse are setting the agenda for the women’s and men’s lightweight squads.
Caoimhe (Newnham) is studying a PhD in developmental psychology, in the Department of Psychology, with supervisor Professor Claire Hughes.
The 27-year-old is a two-time winning Blue, and has been part of the CUBC team for three years, having originally arrived to study for an MPhil.
It was the opportunity to give back that persuaded Caoimhe to stand to become president.
“It’s my fourth year here,” she explains. “I spent three years basically getting everything I wanted out of this club, making the most out of myself and pushing myself.
“I got to the end of last year, and the year was so amazing and I was so lucky to be part of it. I now feel like I want to give everyone else that experience as well.
“I want to feel like the people here this year, this really new group of girls with less experience, can have the quality of experience that I had and learn from the people that I spent the last years learning from. I want to play that role for everybody else as much as I can.”
Ollie (Downing) is in his second year of a PhD in computer vision, having previously completed an undergraduate degree in engineering at Downing.
He learned to cox at the college in 2016, and was part of their squad for three years before first trialling with CUBC.
Ollie, 24, has coxed Goldie in each of the last two years, with a win in 2021 and defeat in 2022, and is now leading the squad from a student perspective this year.
“Realistically, I just thought I might be good at the job and we have a process of electing where you can put yourself forward and be voted by your peers,” explains Ollie.
“I thought if there is a chance I might be good at the job, let’s see what everyone else thinks and see if they will vote me in and that’s what came about.
“I think it has gone well so far. I really enjoy the role. There are a lot of things you don’t realise that come about, a lot of scenarios you have to deal with, a lot of pressures, but I’m really enjoying it and I feel that the squad as a whole is progressing nicely and we’re in a good place.”
Daphne is the women’s lightweight president.
She is at Clare College, and a third year PhD candidate doing classical art and archaeology, with a dissertation on Ancient Sparta, specifically trying to change the perspective of Ancient Sparta that we have had through literary sources by looking at the material culture.
Daphne, 25, started rowing at Clare, having previously played football during her undergraduate degree at Yale, and is in her first year trialling with CUBC.
“It was coincidental that there was no president elected from last year’s squad because we only have one returner,” explains Daphne.
“But I really grew into the squad from the very beginning, loved all the girls and wanted to support them in the best way possible.
“It’s definitely been a baptism of fire, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it and Paddy has been extremely supportive throughout.”
Harry is the men’s lightweight president.
The 22-year-old did an undergraduate degree in engineering at St John’s, and is now in the first year of a PhD in engineering in driver vehicle dynamics.
Harry first took up rowing at Hampton School, and carried that on with his college for his first two years at Cambridge. In his first year trialling with CUBC two years ago he was cut immediately, but Harry returned last year to earn a place in the lightweight boat as the crew earned victory for the first time in four years.
“I really just wanted to do it again, to see if we could lead onto another victory, and to give a bit back to the club as well,” says Harry.
“I wanted to keep the trajectory running. It’s been a good start to the year. We’ve had a lot of people in so we didn’t have as many people returning from last year as we had from previous years – we had four returners, but we’ve had a lot of people in from colleges and freshers coming in from schools who have already brought a lot to the squad.
“I think we’ve got a good opportunity to move on and see what they can do.”