Augustin Wambersie

Club: OUBC

Height: 192cm

School: Princeton University

International rowing record: n/a

Year started rowing: 2010

How have you coped this year?

Teammates – living with other people on the squad who are going through the same thing as you makes everything a hundred times easier. While it is still very bleak at times, the real challenges: loneliness, boredom, laziness, monotony aren’t nearly as bad.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

It was certainly more of a challenge this year that had to be taken on. We benefited from having many returners, which meant that we already knew each other well.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

Having already had indoor erging seasons in the US I thought I would know exactly what was coming. However, a big part of what makes indoor training bearable and at times very fun is the erg room vibes. It is a very different thing to be in a big room with all your teammates with the music blasting, compared to in a hallway, trying to keep the noise down as to not annoy the neighbours in the care home next door – it’s a different energy.

What was your lockdown training set up?

I was lucky enough to share a house with 5 other rowers. We erected a tarp in the back yard and had 3 ergs set up beneath it. When it got too cold we had to move them all into the hallway, where we had a static bike as well. When that happened, about half of our communal living space was occupied by exercise equipment. We didn’t have much to look at other than the neighbours’ cats that like to patrol our back yard. Our setup was probably best adapted for the long steady ergs as once you got into them, there was something about being outside that made it feel like you could go a long way without getting tired or bored.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

Think about taking good strokes, that usually takes up almost 100% of my mental bandwidth.

The biggest challenge?

The uncertainty of the season ahead. Being stuck on the erg not knowing when we would next be able to row.

The toughest session?

8x2min at around 2k pace (hard) by myself in the backyard during winter break when everyone else had gone home for Christmas. That was a bleak session and day.

The best day, so far?

Today, as the rowing and the boat speed have been improving constantly, so each day is better than the last.

Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?

It’s quite hard as I know that there are people that haven’t been allowed to return to rowing that really deserve to, and have trained as hard if not harder than I have.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

It certainly is – it feels strange that half the squad has been put a bit on standby. One thing I will really look forward to is being able to watch them race and support them 100% as the Blue Boat doesn’t really have the chance to do that normally.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

Even though we had been training loads on land for this moment, once we got back to Wallingford, in a way it felt like the season had restarted and each crew had 4 weeks to start from scratch. Game on.

Why do you want to beat Cambridge?

A couple of us have been waiting since 2019 to beat Cambridge. We were extremely excited to race them last year and we had a very strong boat as well. Having the 2020 race cancelled felt like the chance to redeem ourselves had been taken away from us. We are not going to let this opportunity go to waste.