James Forward


Year of Birth 2002

Hometown Nottingham

Nationality British

College Pembroke

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 1st

What are you studying? Philosophy, Politics and Economics

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? At the moment I am thoroughly enjoying the logic we have been studying in philosophy; it has been entirely new to me but very interesting. I don’t yet know what I want to do as a career after university.

Future ambitions? Get selected for and then win the Boat Race - if I manage, I will become the youngest person in history.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I feel rowing and academics complement each other well - it is quite full on, but I have got used to being busy. If anything, the sport makes me more efficient when I work.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing at the age of 12 at my local rowing club, as I was inspired by my dad. He erged every night in the garage, and I thought it looked like an exciting challenge.

What was your first club? Nottingham and Union Rowing Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Feeling part of something which is much bigger than me.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I learned to row at Nottingham and Union RC, where I stayed until I came to Oxford. They taught me to row, and I was able to progress through the GB junior system, which eventually led to me getting selected for Coupe in 2019. I won two bronze medals in the quad, the second of which was on my 17th birthday. I was hoping to get selected for the junior world championships last summer, however this was cancelled due to the pandemic. Before I came to Oxford, I had only ever sculled - I have learned to sweep since the start of the season. This has been quite challenging, particularly with being off the water for a month during November. However I think I am getting there now.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Coupe 2019.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I try to treat it as just another day, so I aim to stay as relaxed as possible to order to be able to race to the best of my ability.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Lewis Hamilton as a cox - he has good steering, and his chat on the team radio sounds like it might be fun to have during a race.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Remembering why I am doing all the training - I have a clear target of winning the Boat Race, and also because I really enjoy rowing, even if it is tough at times. Often, I like to have a snack half way through if a session is particularly long. Generally it’s a box of raisins.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Academics and rowing are quite time consuming, but I enjoy surfing and sailing when I get the chance.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I try to take each day as it comes, and make my training as good as possible. I find that I am motivated by the desire to get better.