Theo Weinberger

Club: CUBC

Height: 185cm on a good day

School: Eton College

International rowing record: I’ve taken a plane to go on training camp

Year you first started rowing: 2011 maybe (a little while ago)

How have you coped this year?

Accepting that I don’t have any control over what’s going on so there’s no point worrying. What happens will happen and you’ve got to take it on a day-byday basis. Don’t overthink it.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

Of course, it is different this year but the CUBC difference remains. We’ve definitely made the most of the times we’ve been able to train together so it feels like there is a strong squad atmosphere. Then during lockdown, the weekly calls were a great time to get together and see everyone even if it was virtually. It really helped remind everyone of why we are here and what we are training for.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

Better, then worse, then better, then worse. It’s been a rollercoaster with ups and downs all the way. Going into first lockdown I found it incredibly useful to be able to train in my own time and focus on improving my fitness but in the middle of lockdown 3.0 I was struggling with the combination of work stress and a bad run of training. Having the training log and seeing other people improving helped me pick myself back up and get back into a good block of training.

What was your lockdown training set up?

In the kitchen wrist twistin’ on the ergo. Think Rocky training montage but way more boring. Mostly going between the living room and the garage where I’d spend 70 minutes staring at a mattress. In all seriousness the training set up I had was ideal. I live with three other members of the squad which has been great for motivation and accountability on those tougher days of training. Being able to erg in the garage rather than my bedroom has also helped. Even though it’s only 15 meters out the door, being able to physically separate myself from rowing when I’m not training has been incredibly helpful when it comes to de-stressing. I did erg in the kitchen a couple of times though.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

By not getting nervous about being nervous. Worrying about race day nerves is a downwards spiral of increasing stress. It’s okay to be nervous, if I wasn’t getting nervous about racing, I’d be concerned. Nerves show that you care.

The biggest challenge?

Deciding whether to hold onto my Gamestop shares? With the majority of this year’s training being land-based, and being a small guy, I had to push on physiologically. I had to get myself to a point where I’m not just competitive on weight-adjusted scores but able to compete with the big guys on raw scores. It’s been tough, and particularly at the beginning of the year seeing myself at the bottom end of the erg rankings was tough, but I worked my way up. It has been a great opportunity to work on one of my biggest weaknesses: my weakness.

The toughest session?

I have a very bad history with the 5 times 5-minute ergs. For some reason they never seem to want to play ball with me. The number of times I’ve blown catastrophically in the 4th piece is upsetting.

The best day, so far?

I had a weirdly good time on my 60-minute free rate test, but that is probably because I am pretty weird. It has been the best test of my season and I paced it to perfection. Even though I wasn’t able to walk upstairs for the next two days, I was ecstatic with how it went.

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

Unsurprisingly it is incredibly strange. There are a lot of my good friends who didn’t make the cut which was tough and while selection is always a major part of rowing this came out of nowhere. At the same time having a small squad has brought a lot of focus to what we do. Each session we do has an intensity and drive that I hadn’t experienced up until now when training with the CUBC.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Having Goldie around is great because the direct competition drives both crews to be better. In most years I can imagine training without Goldie would be a huge detriment. However, this year, with the focus we have in this short campaign as well as knowing we have the full support of the rest of the squad who are still land training there’s more than enough motivation to push on.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

Odd, ergs don’t wobble and so the first day back is always a steep remembering curve. Honestly though it was amazing, it feels incredible to be part of something so special and we’re incredibly privileged to have this opportunity to row and hopefully race in the Boat Race. Also, it was an ideal day to go back, the weather was great, and the rowing (shockingly) was pretty good from the start.

Why do you want to beat Oxford?

To show my brother that he chose the wrong university.