Reef Boericke

Club: CUBC

Height: 201cm

School: St. Paul’s School, London

International rowing record: n/a

Year you first started rowing: 2018

How have you coped this year?

Focusing on the land training (and rowing when we could) helped me avoid the cabin fever of being stuck in my room working all day. In terms of tackling the training a big factor for me was sticking to a routine of training as we would in a normal year and making sure I had people from my house training with me whenever possible, so it wasn’t a solitary grind.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

We made the best of the intermittent time on the water to build a very cohesive team, and during the lockdowns there was an effort to organise online events and chats to continue that team environment. My housemates and I created a really strong training environment and that pushed us all on in terms of fitness.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

The day-to-day workouts were definitely hard without the atmosphere of training in Goldie or being in a boat, and there was some amount of burnout over the course of each lockdown period, but overall I was able to make much bigger steps in my fitness than I anticipated which was rewarding and kept my motivation for the next workout high.

What was your lockdown training set up?

We were lucky enough to have a garden with a flat patio which could fit three and sometimes four ergs side by side. We took full advantage of that to get a bit of hype going for the workouts. We also assembled a set of weights for strength training. We set up a tarp across the garden so that we could train in the rain if necessary, although the wind eventually destroyed that set up.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

For me, the biggest factor is making sure I’m dialled into a routine so that I can minimise any uncertainty in how the day is going to go. I like to eat the same meal the night before a race (spaghetti carbonara) because I know it will fuel me well and not upset my stomach. I then like to have the timings of eating, warming up, etc. laid out in my head so I’m not stressed about what I should be doing at any time.

The biggest challenge?

Taking full advantage of the time we get on the water without pushing ourselves too hard and causing injuries.

The toughest session?

In my opinion, the 60-minute free rate is the hardest workout we do on the erg. It requires sitting on the redline from minute 0 and working at quite high rate for much longer than normal, and so mentally it is extremely challenging.

The best day, so far?

The Trial VIIIs race was definitely the highlight so far. It was a very close race, and it was a rare opportunity over the last year to get some proper racing in. Winning was of course a big bonus.

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

It is definitely strange and changes the dynamic of preparing for the race but for those of us fortunate enough to be out on the water now I think we’re mostly just thankful that any of it is possible.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Very. Benchmarking the boats against each other is normally a key piece of making sure the squad is on the right track, and so not having any reference points means we really have to be completely on it every day to make sure we’re getting the most out of the boat.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

Very fun, mostly. We had extremely benevolent weather for the first week or so and it felt surreal after so many months of land training.

Why do you want to beat Oxford?

For me, doing competitive sport is all about competing and getting the best out of myself and my team on race day. I didn’t come to Cambridge thinking I was going to row, but now that I am, beating Oxford feels like the biggest challenge I can set myself.