Calum MacRae

Club CUBC Men

Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Belfast

Nationality Irish/British

College Gonville and Caius

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year Final

What are you studying? Rowing, History and German

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I am taking a paper on Ottoman History, which is really interesting. I enjoyed researching and writing my dissertation on German Colonialism, because this is an area which is relatively under-studied.

Future ambitions? I would like to continue rowing illness and injury free. If this works out then I’d like to race at the 2021 Boat Races in any of the crews. It has been a long term goal for me to race at the Under-23 world championships for Ireland.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? You need to know the right corners to cut. It is also very helpful to do a lot of extra work outside of term time to make up for time lost to rowing during term.

When did you start rowing, and why? My school was a big rugby school, but I wasn’t very good at rugby. I really liked endurance sports, so I took up rowing in Year 10.

What was your first club? Methodist College Belfast Rowing Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? My favourite part of rowing for Cambridge is knowing that all the people in the team are going through the same training that I am, and that we are all pushing ourselves to our physical and mental limits daily.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I started rowing at school and got a silver medal at the Irish Championships. I then represented Ireland at the Home International Regatta in 2017 and 2018. I won the Lightweight Boat Race in 2018, and won the Reserve Boat Race with Goldie in 2019, which is my biggest achievement in rowing so far. Notable mentions also go to reclaiming Headship with Caius Boat Club and winning the University eights at Marlow Regatta, thereby prequalifying for the Temple at Henley.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? Goldie 2019.

Your favourite race so far? My favourite race so far was winning the University eights at Marlow Regatta with Caius. We were underdogs in this race, being a college crew going up against crews from Oxford Brookes. It was my favourite race because we went out extremely hard off the start, got a length lead, and held it to the finish.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I have to sleep naked the night before racing, otherwise I simply cannot sleep. If I have even one single piece of clothing on, I can’t get a wink of sleep. Therefore, I must sleep naked. I wake up early and jump out of bed, down a litre of water, sprint to the bathroom and shave my face in an incredibly efficient manner. Then I sprint back to my bedroom and put on my racing kit.

Your sporting idol? Ben Dyer. Because he can do things mortal men cannot.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Ben Dyer, for the reasons above.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I get through a tough session by compartmentalising, breaking the session or piece down into smaller, manageable chunks. Towards the end of harder sessions I just count seven strokes at a time and grit my teeth.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I like history, so I read a lot of history books, in particular about Irish history. I also like to keep up with my language skills in French and German. In the off-season I like to go camping in the mountains.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I would describe myself as a ‘huge hype guy’. I am usually one of the first to motivate the other athletes by being loud and energetic in the boat. This involves bringing crews together around a certain focus. It’s also important to have fun and relax between sessions and not get too bogged down in tiny details of technique and telemetry.