Sophie Paine

The perseverance and team spirit shown by our squad throughout this unusual campaign has been special.

Establishing the necessary safety measures and protocols to hold a Covid-secure event required a big collective effort. I am extremely grateful for all those who have gone above and beyond to make this happen.

From our side this has been a really tricky campaign to manage but the fortitude and enthusiasm shown by the Cambridge women is second to none. Every crew that hit the water were keen to make it count and maximise that rare opportunity to row. For me, the biggest challenge was staying in touch with all the rowers during lockdown. Keeping tabs on the team is far easier when physically training in the same location. Despite the adversity and disruption caused by Covid-19 and the long bouts of isolated training the squad bonded together well. At times, reaching the start line felt like an insurmountable effort but together we continued to meet each challenge as it came, and I am sure we will continue to do so. I am proud of the team culture that has developed in spite of the unusual circumstances and distanced training. Upon returning to Ely it felt as if all the ergo mileage and the many hours spent chatting virtually had served its purpose.

For many of us this race has been two years in the making. A longterm goal soon to be a tangible reality. Everything is finally falling into place and the start is within reach. Having practised the race virtually on the erg we know how painful this will be but the whole crew is ready and totally committed.

I am really excited to get on that start line and bring the fire to Oxford.