2020-2021 Winter Newsletter

Hello, and welcome to PCBC’s Winter Newsletter! It has been another extraordinary term for PCBC marked again by the challenges of Covid and increased social restrictions, but our crews and committee have certainly risen to the challenge. We would also like to thank our alumnus Mark Reed (1978), and Mike Champion (City of Cambridge Rowing Club) for getting involved with coaching this term. We here at PCBC hope that you are all keeping safe and well, and we would love to see as many of you as we can (restrictions allowing) at future events, whether that is through coaching, racing in alumni/ae crews or just showing up to spectate and offer your support. 

Call for Alumni Volunteers

This year we plan to morph the PCBC Association into an official legal entity to better support the PCBC and alumni/ae communities. If you would like to get involved, please get in touch with the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives at sponsorshipalumni@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com. We are particularly looking for anyone with experience setting up not-for-profit organisations in the UK or who is able to help us navigate the UK legal system.

PCBC cross training in brand new cycling stash (thank you to Jonathan Vibhishanan and Rob Perry). Photo by Tom Sharp.

Words from the Overall Captain

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… PCBC’s senior eights have shown extraordinary promise this term and achieved sensational speeds for so early in the year; if only there were races to prove ourselves! Everyone who returned to Cambridge after the summer vacation found that the student experience had changed drastically and yet the Boat Club and the fantastic PCBC community were ready to welcome people back and give our senior rowers something to do together and enjoy.

We were proud to be the first college boat club to get eights back on the Cam after summer when we started our pre-season training in September. It quickly became clear that we would have plenty of strength and depth to the crews on both sides this year and soon we were planning to enter six senior eights into Fairbairn’s. Without swaps, members found new and safe ways to have fun together. Our new social secretary, Ben, has done an awesome job of arranging activities. Meanwhile, group cycle rides have been made all the snazzier by PCBC’s brand new cycling kit.

Once Fairbairn Cup had officially been cancelled and the boathouse closed for lockdown, focus naturally turned towards Lent term and so our senior rowers started making good use of the outdoor ergs in the gazebo (now known as the Gazergbo) on the Red Buildings’ lawn to get fit and ready for Lent Bumps campaigns. Next term we hope to run the Pembroke Regatta and we look forward to getting our crews back on the Cam for some racing! Keep an eye on our freshly redesigned website for more updates as we kick off 2021.

Senior Boats

Men’s Side

Despite the many challenges that faced the world and sport of rowing this term, we have had a successful couple of months. The Michaelmas season started off with an intense two-week pre-term training camp where we did a lot of whole-club training to recover our technique after such a long hiatus. When term began our forces were bolstered by the arrival of freshers, including both grads and undergrads with previous rowing experience. There was such a large pool of quality that we decided to run two squads rather than pick boats, as with no races we had time to concentrate on training. Thus, we had an 11-person M1 squad, and a 14-person M2 squad, which helped to generate a supportive and competitive environment in the club. We rowed as often as we could until lockdown struck, and then moved to a land-training programme. Although we could no longer gather to row, we did bike rides in pairs, and made full use of the new Pembroke Gazergbo to keep our rowing fitness. We are now making a final push for fitness through the Christmas holiday, and preparing to return to the water in Lent.

M1 after their last pre-lockdown outing on 4th November. Photo by Seb Matthews.
Strong commitment from the women's side already during pre-season training! Photo by Seb Matthews.

Women’s Side 

This term the women’s side hit off to a very strong start with our pre-season training camp, which was attended by all seniors and a few new freshers and graduate students with previous rowing experience. From then onwards W1 was set and then reset a few times before settling on our final crew line-up, which was destined for much success, but unfortunately COVID had other plans. The crew was blessed with many returning rowers and two more new college members with significant rowing experience. To start with we focussed around a mix of boats, with some VIIIs, IVs, pairs and singles, allowing the squad to become more familiar with the different boat sizes so that all could then become competent foot steerers and scullers, in case of changes in rowing restrictions. We then moved on to spending more time within the VIII as term progressed. We managed to build up significant speed during the short time we had, becoming even faster than some men’s 1st crews (better luck next time Christs M1!), and we look forward to seeing where the crew can take this in the next term! The whole crew has continued to train hard throughout the most recent lockdown and into the holidays, with the aim of making sure our success will continue into Lent enabling us to go up in bumps, but more importantly ensuring that our head coach buys the boathouse dog he promised us! PUSH FOR MARTY!

The women’s side has grown hugely, with enough rowers to form a W2 and W3! This was largely down to a fantastic number of seniors continuing to row again, as well as four freshers with previous rowing experience stepping straight into W2 and W3, further strengthening the women’s side. Despite a combination of national lockdown and poor weather curbing a lot of water training, the women’s side has continued training hard. The ‘Buddy System’ was set up to get people training with other seniors and novices who they may not have met yet as a result of restrictions. They were paired up with a new partner each week in lockdown and undertook a fantastic amount of training, whether that was erging, running or cycling. The women’s side has maintained fitness and morale, and are ready to smash Lent term.

PCBC Coxes

The PCBC coxes, both seniors and novices, rose to the challenge of coxing in times of COVID with great enthusiasm, donning their PPE with style in every session! We had a fantastic intake of novice coxes, with 10 people learning to cox in the first half of term. In addition, we continued to run coxing analysis sessions, with the coxes meeting for an hour each Monday evening on Zoom to analyse rowing clips and discuss how the PCBC coxing community can continue to improve and support one another. Considering the disruption of 2020, we are in a strong position moving into Lent term and look forward to welcoming back many of our coxes to further develop their skills.

Michaelmas Novices

Women’s Side

The novices on the women’s side have had a great Michaelmas term! In total, we had about thirty novices learning to row, and all have shown determination, enthusiasm and commitment in their water training sessions. Most of our novices have had four training sessions this term, and we were all very impressed with the amount of progress they made in this time, which should set them up well for their next term of rowing. We are very proud of how our novices have performed and have enjoyed getting to know them both through coaching and the training buddy scheme. The vast majority of our novices are keen to commit to PCBC next term and we look forward to seeing them back on the river again!

Covid-secure gear to make sure all PCBC members stayed safe throughout the term. Thank you to Elizabeth Bedwell for the personalised PCBC masks! Photo by Tom Sharp.

Men’s Side

Michaelmas was a very strong first term for the novices on the men’s side, and we were very pleased with their vast improvements over the limited number of on-the-water sessions available. This year we have had just above thirty novices, all of whom were enthusiastic to have some water sessions this term (even if it means waking up a bit earlier than they are used to!). Although it was an unusual term, we are extremely proud of our novices’ commitment to PCBC already, and as first-time coaches, seeing the novices progress this quickly and genuinely enjoying their time rowing made us all extremely happy. Next term our plan is to continue to build on this incredible progress from Michaelmas, as well as setting novice crews to get them more familiar with each other! Can’t wait for the start of Lent, it is going to be a good one!!

Pembroke Trialists

In Michaelmas term, Laura Stewart and Rob Harris have been trialling for university crews in the newly merged Cambridge University Boat Club. There is all the more mystery regarding how Oxford and Cambridge crews compare this year with so few events that have been able to take place in the last couple of months. The boat races have been moved from the Tideway in London to Ely for 2021 so Cambridge crews will be racing on the same stretch of the Great Ouse they train on. Michaelmas term culminated with Oxford and Cambridge Trial Eights Races. The event was held on 17th and 19th December 2020 without being announced to the public to ensure maximum event safety with minimum outside attendees. Despite an aggressive start from 10,000 Eels (with Rob Harris rowing in the 3-seat), the crew ultimately succumbed to Henry I by 1/3 length.

The Boat Race will be held without spectators and with strict safety measures too – you can find more details on the Boat Race website, including the race reports from the Trial Eights. If you want to stay up-to-date, sign up to The Boat Race E-Newsletter, and the new digital magazine The Boat Race – the first issue includes an interview with Rob! We wish our PCBC trialists the best of luck and hope they can make the most of this home advantage against Oxford!

Laura Stewart (left) and Rob Harris (right, bow-seat) working day and night to leave the Other Place lengths behind in Ely in April. Photos by Jon Attenborough.

Pembroke Circuits Society

Although PemCircSoc is a separate student organisation that is not officially affiliated with PCBC, we are extremely thankful to them for keeping up the morale, fitness and sanity of PCBC members and hope that they remain an inherent part of PCBC’s culture.

Squat on, PemCircSoc!

Thoughts from the Head Coach

Despite everything going on with COVID, I was thoroughly impressed with how the captains and the students dealt with the measures that were put in place for rowing to go ahead by the college. Tom Sharp, our overall captain, did an amazing job with getting the Boat Club back up and running as soon as possible. Without his work, along with that of the committee and Kevin, the boathouse would not have been able to get as much rowing done this term, even if it was only for a month. In that time we were lucky to be joined by one of the Pembroke alumni Mark Reed (1978). From having Mark back down at the boathouse after 20 years, I felt the athletes really gained a lot from having him share his expertise when he was coaching.

The main theme of the term was that we had a shortage of coxes due to COVID not allowing students to return to the UK. Thankfully Amy Richardson, our coxing representative, made sure that we found and trained as many coxes as possible. Although it was very stressful, it was great to see so many coxes learn how to steer the Cam. One thing I am looking forward to going into the Lent term is how many senior and novice boats I am going to be coaching. We are close to having over 100 athletes at the Boat Club this year, which is really promising for years to come. This is the highest standard of senior boats I have coached in the last couple of years I have been at Pembroke. I truly believe we are going to have a really strong Lent term. It is a shame we were not able to take part in any races this term as I feel we would have had really strong results from our top women’s and men’s crews.

It would be great to have any alumni back down at the boat club to coach as I am only able to coach so many sessions per day.  It would be hugely appreciated by myself and the club even if you are only able to coach for one session.

Lent Term Diary Dates

For anyone who lives in Cambridge or fancies making the trek on a weekend, we would love to have the support of PCBC members past and present on the bank at our upcoming races if the COVID-19 rules and regulations allow! The following dates are provisional and will change according to the pandemic situation.

March 6th – WEHoRR (London)

March 20th – HoRR (London)

April 4th – The Boat Race (Ely)

Thank you 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.

Pembroke Regatta 2021

Due to the current COVID situation, Pembroke Regatta cannon take place in the traditional format. We are considering an alternative format in line with UK government and BR guidelines, but cannot confirm anything at this stage. Follow PCBC Twitter @PCBCCambridge, Regatta Twitter @pemregatta and our Facebook page for updates!

Volunteering and Staying Connected

In order to maintain a lively relationship between current rowers and our alumni/ae, and to strengthen the PCBC community, we would like to morph the PCBC Association into an official legal entity. If you are keen to get involved, please get in touch with the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives at sponsorshipalumni@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com – particularly if you have any experience with setting up not-for-profit organisations or working in the UK legal system!

Alumni support is especially crucial when it comes to coaching of Pembroke crews – we can all think about the alums who sharpened our catches back in the day! If you would like to contribute to the ongoing success of PCBC through coaching, please get in touch directly with the Head Coach Seb Matthews or Overall Captain Tom Sharp, or email the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives to be connected. It would be fantastic to see our current crews inspired by previous successes, especially in these challenging times!

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 continue to use our PCBC alumni Facebook group for keeping in contact between newsletters.  If you are not already connected, please visit us here to join in order to stay updated with the latest news, opportunities to order PCBC stash, and alumni rowing opportunities!

Row on PCBC!

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