Charlie Buchanan


Year of Birth 1996

Hometown London

Nationality British

College Pembroke

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 3rd (7th at Oxford)

What are you studying? DPhil Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? Without doubt the purity of a simple science experiment. I have found that as I have progressed with research, the best approach is to break down a complex problem into a number of simple experiments that will either confirm or dismantle your hypothesis. We used this approach this summer to develop a new tool to help understand why the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is so infective. This was successful and our paper is currently under review. While very demanding, this was highly rewarding, so my current plan is to continue in academic chemistry.

Future ambitions? In the immediate term, I hope to stop rowing after the Boat Race and focus on my DPhil. Once I have completed that, I plan to continue exploring academia.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? It’s certainly a challenge, but over four years at OUBC I have learnt to be much more efficient and become a very smooth talker!

When did you start rowing, and why? I started at age 13 because I erged for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed pushing myself physically and mentally.

What was your first club? KCS Wimbledon.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? The team and the simplicity of the race. The binary nature is so much more intense than anything else I have experienced.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I rowed at school, took three years off serious rowing when I started at Oxford before rowing in Isis in my last year of my undergrad. I rowed in the Blue boat in my first year of postgrad and was selected again last year before the race got cancelled due to Covid.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? Yes, in 2018 Isis and the 2019 Blue boat.

Your favourite race so far? I don’t really have a favourite race. My favourite rowing memories are the times I feel I have grown as an athlete.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? No, I don’t really believe in superstitions. I think it is much more important to be focused on the task at hand. Rowing is generally not a sport where luck is particularly relevant.

Your sporting idol? Paula Radcliffe. Exceptionally driven, and she held the marathon record for 16 years.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Geraint Thomas if he could row. In my opinion rowing is the ultimate team sport and he sacrificed individual performance at 12 grand tours before winning the Tour de France in 2018. I have no doubt he would be an excellent crew rower.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? The balance of intensity on the water with relaxation off the water is very important for me. I give everything mentally on the water, so every session is quite intense. Being able to kick back with my friends afterwards lets me recharge and bring the same intensity to every row.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Cooking. My mum’s dad, though I never met him, was a chef so I like to think I have inherited his enjoyment of flavour combinations.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I came in slightly late this season and I think it is incredibly important to enjoy the ability to train as a team under the current circumstances. Every opportunity we have in the next three and a half months cannot be wasted.