James Forward

Club: OUBC

Height: 188cm

School: Nottingham High School

International rowing record: 2 bronzes at the 2019 Coupe De La Jeunesse in the quad

Year started rowing: 2013

How have you coped this year?

I try to take my training one session at a time, focusing on the process rather than the outcome. By doing this, I am able to continue to make progress despite the difficult circumstances.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

During the most recent lockdown, I feel we developed a strong team culture; we had regular meetings with the team psychologist, and in the second half of the lockdown we also introduced Zoom sessions for erging. In addition, we were lucky enough to receive inspirational talks from former OUBC rowers including Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Pete Reed.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

As a junior, I did a lot of my ergs at home in order to balance my school workload with rowing, so I had previous experience training like this. As a result, I think I coped well with training from home, though the addition of Zoom ergs in this lockdown made the process better than expected.

What was your lockdown training set up?

I spent lockdown at home, where I erged in my garage – often my training was interrupted by our three chickens wandering in from outside!

How do you cope with race day nerves?

I try to treat a race day as just another day, so as to stay as relaxed as possible in order to be able to race to the best of my ability.

The biggest challenge?

Throughout the season, and in particular since the start of lockdown in January, there has been great uncertainty surrounding the date of the race, and whether or not it would go ahead. I feel this has been the biggest challenge in the build-up, so I am glad that the race is now confirmed for April 4th.

The toughest session?

It has to be a 5k test.

The best day, so far?

Trial VIIIs. This was my first opportunity to race for the club, and although I was in the boat that finished second it was a very exciting experience.

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

I was very sad that the squad has had to be cut down for the time being; I understand why it was necessary in order to ensure a Blue Boat race, however, it is pretty brutal for us all. I am looking forward to the whole squad being back on the water together.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Yes, it is strange having so few people on the water – given that we are one of very few clubs who are able to train together, there are often only our two boats on the entire stretch where we row.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

It was awesome to be back, it reminded me why I love this sport so much; nothing beats rowing fast.

Why do you want to beat Cambridge?

I like to win, and as I am racing Cambridge, I need to beat them to win the Boat Race.