Nick Mayhew in the Blue Boat crew

Nick Mayhew on his academic journey and CUBC’s united mission

Nick is at Peterhouse, studying for an MPhil in Management at the Judge Business School and describes the course and the prospect of being able to row and attend Cambridge as the ‘perfect opportunity’. Nick has been selected to race in the Blue Boat in the 2023 Gemini Boat Race on the 26th March.

Nick was born and raised in London. He first started rowing at Latymer Upper School as a 13-year-old and arrived at Cambridge having previously done a four-year undergraduate degree at Stanford University in the US, majoring in computer science.

The perfect combination of sport and academia

Nick explains:
“I think the MPhil in Management is pretty unique in England. It brings an MBA-style level of academics, but you can still apply without the work experience usually required and that’s pretty unique within master’s programmes.

You combine that of course with the renown of the Judge Business School at Cambridge University as well, and it’s a very attractive offer. On top of that  I had some rowing abilities, and the Boat Race at Cambridge was an attractive proposition. Altogether it was the perfect course and the perfect opportunity.”

Academia and rowing have been dovetailing in Nick’s life for a long time. Having taken a gap year after finishing his A levels, he rowed at Thames Rowing Club while working as a teacher at his former school.

Nick says:

“I was hired as a computer science teaching assistant because they were very short staffed, and they wanted a teacher to support as many students as possible, so I was brought back and ended up teaching some of my own classmates in younger years which was an interesting experience.

While I was on that gap year, I was recruited to Stanford University. I got help from the rowing department and my work as a computer science teacher made me an attractive student as a computer science major.”

Contrasting student-athlete experiences

With regards to the student-athlete experience, there are plenty of contrasts between the UK and the US. Across the Pond, college sports have a big viewership and that leads to a vastly different level of funding.

He explains:

“It was more an institution of sport than rowing being the focus. At Cambridge, rowing is one of the top tier sports whereas in a place like Stanford it sits in the shadow of basketball, baseball, American football and the rest. 

You’re in an institution of sport where there are 36 Varsity teams who are all funded with several million dollars. It’s an incredible experience, but it’s great to come to a university where rowing is at the highest level, and it is the focus of the top performers of sport here.”

Nick has a rowing benchmark from Stanford to follow as well. Drew Taylor was the stroke for Cambridge in their success in the 2021 Boat Race on the River Great Ouse at Ely and was a previous captain of Stanford. Nick held the role in the final year of his undergraduate degree in the US, while his best result with the university in the IRA Rowing Championship was fifth in his third year. Taylor has set the standard to try to reach, and that has been aided by the ease in which Nick has slotted into life at Cambridge.

Nick continues:
“It’s an incredible experience. You come from a place that’s the Silicon Valley, it’s the cutting edge of technology, to a place that has the history of education, experience of education and you get a totally different experience from that. 

It has that breadth of experience – a city of education almost, not just a university or college campus. You absorb all that. One of the unique things about Cambridge, especially the college system compared to the US, is that you are surrounded by it wherever you go.

You’re having dinner at a college or you’re talking to PhDs of history and political science, and you’re surrounded by so many different ideas. I’ve found that I’m learning so much just through conversations with peers, almost more than I ever did at Stanford just in an academic sense.”

CUBC is a cohesive club with a united mission

CUBC is now into the third academic year as a unified Club, which brought together the men’s, women’s and lightweights’ squads.It’s an aspect that Nick has enjoyed, believing that it helps to provide a broader understanding of the whole purpose of the programme by being together.

He concludes:

“I think it’s unique and also an incredible experience – you’re not just closer with the other squads, but also you feel like it’s a united mission. It’s not just our aim to win the men’s boat races, or the women’s or the lightweight boat races, it’s to win all of them. You get passionate about all of their wins and their losses so it becomes a more cohesive club and cohesive atmosphere because of that.”