Michaelmas Newsletter 2022

Published by El Stiles on

Hello, and welcome to PCBC’s Michaelmas Newsletter!

Words from the Overall Captain

PCBC has had a wonderful start to the 2022-2023 season. We started with a training camp in Budapest, Hungary where both seniors and newcomers were able to strengthen their technical skills and build a solid foundation of fitness going into the term. We got to train in everything from 8+s to single sculls, and having the week devoted to training allowed for rapid improvements. A special thank you to Bálint Homonnay and his family for allowing us all the opportunity to row on a beautiful river.

We returned to Cambridge excited and eager to begin rowing, as well as recruiting a new group of fantastic novices. Our LBCs organised our annual Big Rowing Day to allow freshers to give rowing a try and speak to both current and previous rowers, and were able to recruit our biggest ever intake of freshers! I am incredibly impressed and inspired by our novices this year – they are eager, determined, and devoted, giving me much excitement for the future of the club. They have started the year off brilliantly!

All of our senior boats did wonderfully, especially as we all focused on rowing in 4+s for the beginning of term before transitioning into the 8+. As our captains will expand upon below, we can point to multiple great performances during term, culminating in the Fairbairns Cup.

I must give particular congratulations to the Novice Men, who won Emma Sprints! Quite a start to what will be, I am sure, many successful years on the Men’s side. I must also congratulate our Senior W1 Boat, who pushed through multiple injuries to achieve 2nd place in Fairbairns by a mere 3 seconds! We feel very strong as we look to Lent Term, and missing out on first place has certainly stoked our competitive spirit as we prepare for Bumps.

I want to thank all of our coaches and captains, as well as Kevin Bowles, our boatman, who is celebrating an incredible 40 years with the club. It is a true asset to the club to have a boatman with such experience on the Cam. I also want to thank all of our alumni for their involvement, encouragement, and support. It motivates and excites us and I am very grateful for everyone in the PCBC community, past and present. I look forward to the next term of rowing and hopefully meeting more of our fantastic alumni community at this year’s annual Regatta Dinner, held on 18th February.


Women’s Side

W1 had a very strong Michaelmas. Despite a number of changes in the crew due to injuries at the start of term, the rowers never lost drive or momentum and worked hard to gel together as one crew. Even with subs, W1 performed very well in each race, showing how effort and commitment to sessions leads to speed and rhythm on the water. We had two strong fours in the University Fours, knocked out by only a couple of seconds. The crew’s highlight of the term was their performance in Fairbairns, where they stormed their way to second place overall – just 3 seconds away from first place. Their strong start and finish to the term bodes well for Lent Term, where I expect to see their passion and determination reap benefits once again in Lent Bumps.

W2 began Michaelmas as a squad of 12. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the boat and everyone was excited about what could be achieved. Within a few weeks, the squad split into a set W2 and W3 crew. W2 improved leaps and bounds in their training. In Winter Head, they placed 6th out of the other W2 and W3 boats on the Cam. Their aim for Fairbairns was to progress further up the rankings, and they achieved this: they came 4th out of the other College W2s, with a time of 18:43. Their strong start to the year promises some great results for Lent and May Bumps.

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W3 became a set crew in Week 4 of Michaelmas, and came together to perform well in Fairbairns. Their success as a crew was down to their enthusiasm. In particular, there was a lot of commitment from the novices, who made up half of the crew. We are one of the few colleges on the river with a W3 in Michaelmas term competing in several races, which is a credit to the boat club. Our hope is that W3 continues in their progress to compete in Lent Bumps.

Men’s Side

M1 has had an encouraging term. Despite having only one returner from last year’s Mays crew, they have begun rebuilding. Starting the term with a disappointing Winter Head result, they worked towards a terrific Fairbairns row, miles ahead of where they were 8 weeks before. With this steep upwards trajectory, engendered by their commitment to every outing, and desire to push themselves beyond their limits, a strong Lent Bumps performance is theirs for the taking!

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M2 had a fantastic Michaelmas. Coming together as a crew at record pace, we went straight into turning our enthusiasm into speed on the water. Because a lot of our rowers graduated last year, M2 this term ended up recruiting a couple of novices into the boat. Their keenness and energy spread to the seniors, making nearly every session an absolute treat to row in. All this translated to stellar results, with M2 coming 3rd in their division at Winter Head by only 9 seconds (with an exciting overtake on a tideway crew down the gut), and 5th in their division at Fairbairns (with an even more exciting overtake on St Edmunds M1 just before the finish line). Between this current crew’s successes, and the excellent work of the lower boat captains, M2 has great momentum going into Lents. I’m certain we’ll maintain our upwards streak in Lent Bumps.


It was wonderful to see that many of our senior coxes had kept up their training over the summer vacation: coxing with town clubs and participating in our online video analysis sessions. We’re happy to welcome back our (rather large!) team of coxes from their year abroad and those returning after taking a break from rowing.

Coxing at PCBC was an attractive choice for many freshers at Big Rowing Day this year, with over 35 of them expressing interest in trying it out! Several semester students got on the water as well, with some of them racing with our novices towards the end of term. We also saw several PCBC rowers, past and present, catch the coxing bug. We look forward to seeing how combining the two skill sets can improve the standard of rowing all-round. Looking forward to Lent Bumps, already we have keen Pembroke students signing up to embark on their coxing journey before term even begins. After the disruption of Covid, we can’t wait for this growing bank of institutional knowledge to pay dividends for our crews.



Men’s Side

The Novice Men’s and Non-binary side had an amazing start to the term, with some of the novices moving into the M2 boat almost immediately. They kicked off their campaign with Qergs, finishing with an average split of 1:36.3. This pace was soon joined by strong crew energy and spirit, leading to an excellent Winter Head race for NM1 and winning Emma Sprints! They finished with an incredible row at Fairbairns, placing 6th in their category. NM2 were not to be outdone, also winning their Emma Sprints division and placing 8th in their category at Fairbairns. The LBCs expect many more good results to come: fuelled by the same team spirit and work ethic we’ve seen this term, and by semester students joining come Lent.

Women’s Side

The Novice Women’s and Non-binary side took to the river with good spirits and enthusiasm, and their LBCs could not have been prouder. Several of our keener novices moved up to W2 and W3 in the first weeks of term, making the performances put in by our NW1 crew at Clare Novice Regatta and Fairbairns all the more impressive. Having ended the term on a high, finishing in the top half of Women’s Novice boats, we can’t wait to see what our novices have in store as they move into senior rowing. Going into Lent, we are looking forward to welcoming a cohort of semester students at PCBC!


Last season’s Men’s and Women’s Captains are now trialling with Cambridge University Boat Club. Molly Foxell is training with the Openweight Women and Hamish Elder is training with the Lightweight Men. They have written a summary of their experiences thus far.

Molly Foxell –

I’m about halfway through my first season trialling with CUBC and it’s been quite a term! Preseason started at the beginning of September and we finished with a 5k on the 19th December, so it’s a long training block but an incredibly productive one. The first major event was Fours Head, for which I raced in the second four in the Champ 4- category and came 7th. The highlight so far has been Trial 8s. This is where the coaches select matched crews to race the full length of the Championship course, almost like a Boat Race dress rehearsal. It was an incredibly eventful race which my crew won by only 6 inches after over 20 minutes of racing, including a restart… I would recommend watching the livestream back – it’s a very exciting race! After a short Christmas break we’re going on a training camp to Spain and then it’s not long until the Boat Races.

Hamish Elder –

I’ve had a great few months trialling with CUBC. While it certainly has been a serious commitment, it’s really enjoyable to be part of such a professional setup. I missed out on Four’s Head through injury, but made a return for Lightweight Trial Eights. Like most of the Cambridge races, I was part of a close battle. Down by 3/4 length at Hammersmith, my crew moved to almost level around the outside of the Surrey bend, before the other crew edged away past Barnes Bridge. While it’s disappointing to miss out on winning, the squad is in an exciting place for taking on Oxford in March!


For the first time in recent history, we had 5 alumni crews race this term. For Fairbairns we entered a Men’s 4+ and a Women’s 4+. The men, in particular, came together well and were the 2nd fastest alumni boat. The following day PCBC took to the river again for Christmas Head. Thankfully a shorter race this time, we entered a Men’s 1x, a Men’s 4+ and a Women’s 4+. Credit again goes to the men who were the fastest alumni 4+. The strength and depth of our alumni squad is a testament to the history of the club and the enthusiasm of our alumni. Our ambition is to enter a Men’s 8+ and a Women’s 8+ for Pembroke Regatta. Please get in touch if you are interested in racing – no 2k tests required!


This term has definitely been a mixed bag of results due to a lot of injuries and inexperience, but I look forward to continuing to develop the athletes we have and go on to a really strong Lent term. The main highlights for me were NM1 and NM2 winning Emma Sprints and W1 finishing second at Fairbairns. I would like to say a massive thank you to all the coaches this term that have helped me, and also Bálint for hosting us at our Budapest camp in September.


Planning for the Pembroke Regatta 2023 is now underway, which is taking place on Saturday, 18th February 2023.

If you would like to take part, please get in contact at sponsorshipalumni@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com.

We hope that many of you will be able to join us at the Regatta Dinner, which will take place on the same night. Details about booking your place for this will come in due course.



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. Our crews will also take on the Thames in Lent, so do come along to cheer for them – it will certainly make them row faster!

January 9th – Pre-Term Cambridge Training Camp January 21st – Winter Head to Head
January 29th – Quintin Head
February 4th – Newnham Head

February 18th – Pembroke Regatta March 3rd – Lent Bumps Getting on Race March 4th – WEHoRR (London) (TBC) March 7th-11th – Lent Bumps
March 18th – HoRR (London)
March 26th – The Boat Race (London)


Alumni support is 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 with the Head Coach Seb Matthews or the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives Lily and Jasmine. It would be fantastic to see our current crews inspired by previous successes.

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 also post regularly on our PCBC Alumni Facebook group for the latest news and alumni rowing opportunities. If you are not already connected, please visit us here to join!

Row on PCBC!