Easter Newsletter 2020

Published by Evie Hair on

Recap of Lent Term

Men’s Side

After rowing through every day of 2019 Lents, members of the crew returned with a solid will to earn some bumps. At the first race of the term – Winter Head to Head – we came a very close third, with a massive gap behind. Robinson Head came next, which we won comfortably, 27 seconds ahead of Girton M1 in second place. With a second place on Newnham Head (previously Newnham Short Course) we developed a solid reputation for being one of the fastest boats on the river. From there it was clear that Lents Headship would come down to us or LMBC. Sadly, a pre-race incident resulting in a technical bump on Thursday robbed us of this chance, but it did not stop us from going up two, and ending second on the river. This is the highest place Pembroke has held in Lents since 1990, and six members of the crew are returning next year to finish the job. The crew was disappointed not to have had the chance to take on LMBC, but they were aiming to redeem themselves as the fastest Cambridge crew at HoRR. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  We would like to personally thank PCBC alumnus John Hughes for his amazing support, coaching and even jumping back into the cox’s seat in desperate times.

 M2 had a strong start to the term winning our first race of term, Winter Head to Head. We continued this form into Robinson Head and won this race too. Next, for Newnham Head, we finished as the second fastest M2 on the river against strong opposition, only being beaten by Queens M2. Going into Lent Bumps, the crew knew it would be tough being surrounded by fast crews. To make things even more challenging the weekend before Bumps, injury and illness struck meaning that on every day of bumps we needed at least one sub.  Despite the setbacks, the crew showed their form during the week of racing; on the first day they held a fast Homerton M1 from station 14 all of the way until Ditton before being bumped. For the second and third days, M2 had comfortable row-overs, easily opening up the gap to Emmanuel M2 who was chasing on both days. On the final day, it was our chance to bump back up as we were now chasing Jesus M2, who were decisively slower than us in the previous races of term. However, Queens M2 were behind us and weren’t going to let us get complacent. We rowed well, consistently eating into the gap to Jesus whilst holding Queens off until bumping Jesus outside the Plough, thus ending the week net zero at station 14 of the M2 division, an outstanding achievement nonetheless due to our position amongst many first boats.

Following one of our strongest ever novice turnouts last term, hopes were high for what our lower boats could achieve this Lents. M3 got off to a strong start to term, with great support from long-term PCBC alumnus Alan Foster. M3 won our division in Newnham Head, beating all but three second boats in the process. The following week, we also won our division at the Pembroke Regatta, and were looking strong for Bumps. Even though this year was one of the most competitive in recent history, with 44 crews competing for 16 spaces in the Getting on Race, M3 smashed it and easily got on. We started Bumps in a good position, surrounded by Boats we knew we could beat on a good day. After quick bumps on Day 1 and 2, we narrowly missed out on bumping on the third day due to being at the wrong end of a three-boat sandwich. However, we had a strong row over and came back even stronger on the Saturday, bumping Wolfson M2 and going up three overall, one of the best results for a Lents Pembroke M3 in recent years.

M4 similarly put in an impressive performance this term, recording solid times in both Winter Head-to-Head where they battled Downing M3 and in Newnham Head. M5 also competed in Newnham Head, one of only two M5s on the river! We are especially proud of M4 for putting in an incredible performance in the Getting on Race for Lent Bumps, the first time in recent memory since Pembroke has fielded an M4 for Lents. Although they missed getting on for Lent Bumps, we can’t wait to see where they take the men’s side in future years!

M2 racing Newnham Head
M4 racing Newnham Head

Women’s Side

W1 grew in strength every week this term, as proved by a very strong performance in Bumps. They moved up one, finishing sixth on the river at the end of the campaign, with each day presenting a challenge to the crew’s grit and determination. The first day presented the challenge of catching First and Third, who finished Newnham Head with a marginally faster time than W1 earlier in the term.  W1 caught First and Third on the Reach, after a painful thirty seconds of overlap, demonstrating not only the crew’s progression through term, but their fierce determination. The third day was further testament to the crew’s mental strength, as they successfully pulled away from Clare’s overlap, allowing them to finish the final day of bumps having not only put a comfortable distance between themselves and Clare, but crossing the finish line within station of Lady Margaret. Following success in bumps, W1 had hoped to race Women’s Head of the River on the 7th of March, but unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the unsafe strength of the tideway’s stream.

W2 have grown each week this term and have worked so hard to achieve the best result that the boat has seen in 4 years of Lent Bumps. They started the term with Winter Head-to-Head and then went on to race Newnham Head, pulling impressive times in both – and earning themselves a spot as one of the strongest second boats on the river. Progressing on to Bumps, they then went on to within 45 seconds on Day One. While they continued to gain on crews ahead of them throughout the week, there were unfortunately no more bumps, although the crew was pleased with a very strong set of row overs. Their net result of +1 was a very impressive feat and we are so proud of the success that W2 earned with their dedicated training this term.

A huge turnout in Michaelmas term meant that the lower boats were bound to be a force to be reckoned with in Lents! Our W3 put in a strong performance for Newnham Head, although they narrowly missed out on qualifying for Lents Bumps, placing only two seconds behind the Kings’ II, the first non-qualifying boat. W4 made some major improvements this term, massively stepping up their commitment to PCBC and proving their resilience in some unfavourable weather conditions. They put in a strong effort for Pembroke Regatta – their first race of the term – and only narrowly missed out on the win to Lucy Cavendish W3. They then went on to compete in the Getting-On Race. Although they did not qualify for Lent Bumps, the crew put in a fantastic effort and we are so proud of how much they have improved over the term. While all members of the crew were hoping continue rowing in Mays, which has now been cancelled, we are looking forward to their bright future with PCBC next year!

W3 racing Newnham Head

Pembroke Charity Ergathon 2020

On 2nd February, 54 PCBC members completed a 12-hour ergathon to raise money for the Jo Cox Studentship. Together they rowed 522,096 meters over twelve hours and raised £634.24!

For many, the erging formed part of their usual weekly training plans, which is a testament to how much hard work PCBC puts in every week during terms that are already very busy. With that in mind, special mentions go to Callum Bowler (M2), who rowed 50k, Toby Chesser (M1) for completing a full marathon, Daniel Harwood (M2), Jenny Hill (W1) and Ben Hatton (M2) for completing a half-marathon, Steph Jat who rowed furthest as a cox (M3), and to M2 who covered more than 164k in total.

We also had two PCBC alumni drop in, and one person from outside the boat club (!), proving once and for all rowing is not, and never has been a cult. The Master, Lord Smith of Finsbury, also popped his head in during the afternoon, but unfortunately did not get on an erg. We look forward to trying again next year to persuade him to put in some watts. Finally, a big thank you to Jan Deller for sorting out all of the tech and to Dan Shailer for organising the whole event. A massive thank you to everyone who took part, contributed to the donations and for all of the support.

Pembroke Regatta 2020

This year Pembroke Regatta took place on Saturday 15th February. The preparations were running smooth, we had more than 90 boats signed up to race in eight divisions, and 50 current PCBC members offered their hands with marshalling and umpiring. With the help of Darwin College Boat Club, PCBC entered one men’s and one women’s crew in each alumni division. However, a couple of days before the event is was clear that storm Dennis would make the Regatta challenging.

After discussion with CUCBC and PCBC boatman Kevin Bowles, we decided to proceed with the event following the original division schedule, allowing crews to scratch if they did not feel safe to race, and refunding their entry fees. The weather conditions were carefully assessed at 6am – light crosswind allowed the W3 division to start shortly after the sunrise, with Lucy Cavendish W3 finishing victorious. The M3 division kicked off right after W3, and its thrilling finals saw Pembroke M3 winning over First and Third M3!

Towards the end of the M3 division the wind picked up and further racing was deemed unsafe. Thus the first boats, the second boats as well as the alumni divisions were cancelled. After a speedy prize giving in the Boat House, Pembroke Alumni joined the current boat club members at the celebrations at the Regatta and Association Dinner.
A big thank you to Roxy Southern for organising the event second time in a row, and for dealing with the uneasy conditions! We would also like to thank to Pembroke College Development Office for their support and for providing the pre-dinner and post-dinner drinks. Congratulations to all crews, and see you in Pembroke Regatta 2021, which will provisionally take place on Saturday 20th February.

M3 celebrating their victory

Lent Bumps


Overall, PCBC has had an incredibly strong Lents campaign. All five of our racing crews either maintained or increased their position on the river, an impressive achievement and a promising sign of things to come for the club as a whole.

We are so proud of the performance across the board of every single crew, with M1 ending their campaign second on the river, their highest placement in 30 years, and M3 going up 3 places. The women’s side had similar success, with both W1 and W2 proving that they are forces to be reckoned with. Congratulations to all our rowers and coxes – bring on Mays! Full race reports are now available here.

M3 (Photo: Giorgio Divitini)

Pembroke Trialists in the University Squad

Two Pembroke rowers – Jonty Page (Blue Boat-elect, 4-seat) and Rob Harris (Goldie-elect, 5-seat), celebrated the New Year at a CUBC training camp in sunlit Banyoles. For the first time we remember, a third eight was boated to broaden the squad and continue to develop the athletes for as long as possible. After the training camp, two fixtures were announced – Goldie and the CUBC 3rd Eight against Imperial College London’s 1st and 2nd crews on 3rd February, and Blue Boat and Goldie against Oxford Brookes’ 1st and 2nd crews on 1st March.

At the beginning of February, the Goldie crew won both pieces against Imperial easily, the second by four lengths! The 3rd Eight lost their first race, but took the lead at the beginning of the second piece and finished victorious. 

Oxford Brookes turned out to be a tough competition. In their first race against the Blue Boat they beat Cambridge after numerous blade clashes. Following an aggressive start from CUBC, the Cambridge crew was in the lead for most of the race course, but were beaten by OBUBC in the final stage of the race. Unfortunately, Brookes moved away from Goldie to a victory in both pieces as well. As a result of the current situation with COVID-19, The 166th Boat Race on 29th March has been cancelled. It is the first time since the Second World War for the men’s rowing competition and the first year since its inception for the women’s race.

CUBC in Banyoles with Pembroke trialists – Jonty Page (top row, 7th from left) and Rob Harris (top row, 8th from left). Photo by CUBC.

Thoughts from the Head Coach

PCBC’s results in Lent Bumps really reflected the hard work all the students and coaches put in in the Michaelmas Term. After being hit with a number of storms this term, we struggled to get a lot of our boats out on the water. Many of the boats persevered and were able to complete the training program. Despite wet and windy bumps conditions, all of them were able to cope with the pressure and come out with some great results, with no crews going down in the bumps charts. I would like to say thank you to all of the coaches, boatman and captains that helped this term. If there are any alumni that wish to coach in the future, please get in contact with the Head coach, Seb Matthews (headcoach@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com). We have ten boats that had hoped to race in May Bumps that will be eager for the chance to prove themselves next year!

Diary Dates

Unfortunately, due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, there will be no face-to-face teaching in Easter term this year. All planned rowing events are cancelled and we are unsure exactly when regular rowing will be able to resume. In the meantime, we would like to thank you for your support for all of our PCBC family this past academic year and into the future. We hope to return in Michaelmas 2020 even stronger than before, and we look forward to having additional clarity in the coming months.

However, we do have one set of dates for your diary! Without any May Bumps on the river, some Cambridge boaties are organizing a Virtual May Bumps! Additional details can be found on the Facebook event here and we will be keeping you updated on social media as the time approaches.
 If you would like to participate in an alumni boat for Virtual May Bumps, please email the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives!

June 24 – 27: Virtual May Bumps Thanks again to our sponsors, King and Spalding, for their continued support. They have allowed us to continue investing in high quality coaching and equipment, as well as injury prevention and recovery for all of our athletes.

Volunteering and Staying Connected

If you would like to be involved in the ongoing success of PCBC through coaching, please get in touch with the Overall Captain, Jenny Hill, or the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives. It would be fantastic to see our current crews inspired by previous successes!

Seb Matthews, our head coach, has been particularly grateful for the help of John Hughes, Alan Foster, Emily Bowyer, Lata Persson, Emma Andrews and Laura Stewart in Lent. Volunteer next year to earn your very own special shout-out in future newsletters!

And, as always, follow our social media for the latest news!

Website: www.pembrokecollegeboatclub.com

IG: www.instagram.com/pcbccambridge

FB: www.facebook.com/PCBCCambridge

Twitter: twitter.com/pcbccambridge

Pembroke Regatta Twitter: twitter.com/pemregatta

We are especially pleased to have rolled out a Facebook group for PCBC alumni in September 2019. If you are not already connected, please visit us here to join in order to stay updated with the latest news and alumni rowing opportunities!

Row on PCBC!

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