Luke Robinson

Club: OUBC

Height: 182cm

School: Winchester College

International rowing record: 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships, bronze

Year you first started rowing: 2012

How have you coped this year?

This year has definitely been very different to any other year I’ve been at OUBC but I’ve treated my training the same as always. You just have to focus on the things you can control. If a lockdown stops you from training on the water, you take it as an opportunity to get fitter by spending more time on the erg than you would normally have time for.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

I think a big part of building a good team culture is done in the pre-season which we were lucky enough to spend training in boats. Then in the lockdowns we’ve been trying to keep up this momentum with Zoom ergs and virtual meet-ups.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

Obviously for the September lockdown we were annoyed to be off the water but in the end it went quite quickly and I just used the time to get super fit on the erg. The last lockdown however was much more tedious and the isolated ergs were starting to get more and more dull.

What was your lockdown training set up?

One of my housemates this year is also on the squad, so we’ve been sharing a dynamic that the club leant us. We’ve got it in a shed outside with a mirror in the corner to keep an eye on the technique. We also managed to pick up a few weights plates from the gym so we’ve been throwing those around as well.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

Before big races I will often do a lot of visualisation. That way, I have pictured myself sitting on the start line quite a few times so when the time comes, I don’t feel as nervous. It also helps to plan out the day, so you do not have to worry on race day with when you need to have your last food and so on.

The biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge will definitely be the short lead up to the race. In a normal year, by March, you would already have two months of training and a few fixtures with your crew under your belt. This year we are having to mould together much quicker.

The toughest session?

Test day on the erg is always a big one and 5k tests never get easier. We also often have days when we will go to Caversham and just do a load of pieces on the lake which gets pretty tough after a long week of training.

The best day, so far?

I always enjoy the build up to Trial VIIIs. It is fun to get two matched boats paddling side by side and it really brings out the competitive spirit in everyone.

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

It is weird having such a small squad and only one eight on the water. I know it is also quite tough for the guys who are having to stay on the erg for yet another month but at the same time, we know what our mission is and that is our only focus at the moment.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Yes. Having both the Blue Boat and Isis on the water is usually good for the squad. In a normal year, we often do pieces together which provides a good target for Isis and keeps the Blue Boat on its toes.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

We had been thinking a lot about technical focuses on the erg in the most recent lockdown to help the transition, so we all knew what to focus on, but it still took us a while to get used to it again. It is nice to finally get back in a boat again though.

Why do you want to beat Cambridge?

This is my fourth year on the squad. We were put on the back foot in 2018 and since then, I have watched the club strengthen and grow to put Oxford’s name back on the trophy. We have got a rare opportunity this year to beat them on their own water and I couldn’t think of a better opportunity to get our club back on top.