School: Hampton School
International rowing record: 2x 1st at Coupe De La Jeunesse 2016 in GB Junior 8+
Year you first started rowing: 2013
How have you coped this year?
By taking it one step at a time – there was no point in thinking too far ahead when the location and date of our race was so uncertain for so long. With a lot of time off the water there was not too much I could do as a cox, however I made sure to be 100% ready and prepared to be back at any time.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
Yeah, we were. We really used the early months of the season when Covid restrictions were more relaxed to grow together as a squad. Then in the two lockdowns we had regular Zoom calls where people could share their own thoughts and feelings about the weeks training to the rest of the squad.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
Personally, I like to embrace them. Nerves are just your body getting yourself ready to race and I find fighting them counterproductive. I actually enjoy the feeling of nerves on race day as it differentiates that day from every other day training in the boat. One thing I do to prepare myself to race is close my eyes and take three breaths five minutes before the start. It moves my focus inside the boat and helps all the distractions to fade into the background.
The biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been not having much time on the water. In a normal year the racing crews would start to form in January and be finalised in February, allowing three months to gel as a crew. This year we only have four weeks to both select and train our crew, so every session counts. We’ve had to fast track everything we do, which has been a real challenge.
The best day, so far?
I would have to say the first day we spent on the water back in September. After the cancellation of the 2020 Boat Race, I was devastated and felt a huge sense of unfinished business with rowing. Throughout the long first lockdown I was counting down the days before we could get back to rowing and when we finally did it felt amazing.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
It was awful. There is such a whole squad mentality at CUBC, with guys of all levels pushing each other on to improve. Nobody felt good about not having everyone there, but the people who did miss out have been super supportive of us who’ve been able to return to training.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Yes, it has been really strange. Usually, Goldie and the Blue Boat do a lot of paddling and pieces together in the run up to the race to both have competition and work on our match racing skills. Without Goldie being there, it will mean that come race day we will not have done side by side racing since Trial VIIIs in December. Both crews are very important to the club and all the guys in Goldie have been missed.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
It felt incredible. Throughout January and February there was so much uncertainty about when we would get back on the water and whether we could race. After missing out on racing last year, it was a huge relief to get back out there again and train on the Boat Race course in Ely.
Why do you want to beat Oxford?
The 2020 Blue Boat made a pact in February last year that we would beat Oxford at all costs. With no race happening last year, I still owe it to those guys to win this year along with all the reserves who will not get a chance to race on the 4th of April. Also, in the future, when this race is looked back on only one word is written to describe that year’s crew, and I do not want the word “Lost” next to my crew’s names.