Summer Newsletter 2020

Published by Victoria Moreland on

      PCBC 2020 Summer Newsletter


To all of PCBCs newest alumni,

Firstly, we’d like to say congratulations on making it out into the real world of adulting and good luck in whatever you are going on to do.

Although your time at PCBC was abruptly cut short, this is not the end! You are now a part of the alumni community of PCBC. Here the wonderful Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives – Stefan, Sophie and Roxy – will be keeping you up to date with all of PCBCs successes and organising the alumni events throughout the year so you can keep in touch and stay involved. Other ways to keep up to date with what we are doing is following PCBC on Instagram @pcbccambridge if you don’t already. Look out for all the glorious pictures of us rowing (hopefully!) that Vic will be posting next year.

As you know PCBC is always looking for coaches, and now you have graduated you are certified experts, so if you ever find yourself wanting some PCBC back in your life and to inspire the next generation of rowers do not hesitate to get in touch. Whether it is this year, or in many years to come – it will always be greatly appreciated. All that’s left to say is we hope to see you maybe representing PCBC’s alumni at the regatta next year, or enjoying the sunshine at the May bumps marquee 2021.

Wishing you all the best,

Jenny Hill, Overall Captain 2019-2020

Tom Sharp, Overall Captain 2020-2021

Please note: One of our primary methods of communication with PCBC alumni is through our alumni facebook group. If you are not already connected, please visit us here to join in order to stay updated with the latest news and alumni rowing opportunities!

Virtual May Bumps

As the traditional May Bumps was not possible this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a group of current rowers from several Cambridge colleges came up with a breakthrough idea – Virtual Bumps. Crews were entered as teams of 9 “rowers”, each of whom had to run 800 m every day from 24th to 27th June. The times were fed into a simulator which determined the bumps, (double-)overbumps and row-overs and the starting order for the next day. True Bumps atmosphere was provided by regular CamFM results coverage, daily fines and Virtual Bumps boat charts. PCBC showed glorious effort and amazing team spirit, entering 10 crews of current students, alumni and alumnae, and staff members, which made up more than 10 % of all racing crews!

Virtual Bumps was a charity event, raising money for the Milton branch of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice (EACH). Almost £6000 was raised in total – we would like to thank all of you who contributed for the worthy cause! Pembroke came second to St. John’s for the Pegasus Cup, which was this year awarded to the College which raised most through seat donations relative to its size.

For more information about the event please explore the VMB website:

Men’s Side

M1 entered Virtual May Bumps with high hopes of turning around last year’s drop in the rankings. Almost every member of this year’s successful M1 Lents crew wanted to take part and reclaim their rightful place on the river. With minimal training, but with great banter and enthusiasm they faced the challenge. M1 proved their speed on day 1 by a quick bump on Emma in the first third of the course. Each day showed great improvement in speed, and meant that they quickly dispatched both LMBC and Magdalene M1. The final day of racing had great possibility, with M1 pushing for blades and the second place on the river. The crew put in a great effort, improving even further on times of the previous days, but sadly it was not enough to catch Downing before they bumped Caius, and as such “rowed” over to end up +3 to third on the river.

The M2 Mays crew consisted of half of the Lents M2 crew and half returning grads. Starting as the second M2 on the river, they were surrounded by M1 crews and had a tough week. For the first three days, the crew ran hard but were unfortunately bumped by faster boats. However, each day they ran faster and made it further along the course, so on the final day were able to row over. This left the crew -3 for the week, but avoiding spoons. Most importantly, over the four days of racing every member of the crew got faster and the overall average time improved by an impressive 15 seconds.

M3 entered Virtual May Bumps hoping to earn blades for the seventh year in a row. Alas, it was not to be. Chased by a fast Churchill M3 on day one, the crew gave it their all, but were unfortunately bumped for the first time since 2012. A strong row over on day 2 meant day 3 would make or break M3’s 2020 bumps campaign. Chasing a slower Selwyn M2, but being chased by the dubiously strong Addenbrookes M1, M3 went out hard, with the fastest individual time of the week posted on this day. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and they were caught before they could make the bump. The crew rowed over on the final day, and although the final result of -2 may not have been what they were hoping for, M3 improved their average time on every day of Virtual Bumps. On to Lents 2021, which will hopefully be back on the river so M3 can show off their rowing rather than their running!

Women’s Side

Virtual Bumps saw four days of consistently strong performances from W1, who finished the week fourth on the river, with an excellent result of +3. Though apart, and adjusting to a new (and it was agreed, uncomfortable) distance and sport, the crew managed to capture some classic Bumps atmosphere, even with some bleeding blisters. Many crew members made significant gains in their 800m speeds as the campaign progressed, a testament to the determination they have been showing all year. Day 1 resulted in a tense and dramatic row-over for Pembroke W1, who were unfortunately just unable to catch Downing before they bumped Lady Margaret. The second day saw W1’s first gain of the week, with a strong bump on Lady Margaret. On day 3, W1 effortlessly maintained their upward trajectory after they were automatically awarded a bump on Emmanuel, who had failed to submit times. W1 concluded their campaign strongly, taking care of day 1’s unfinished business with a quick, decisive bump on Downing.

Virtual Bumps for W2 was a tough challenge for the whole crew whilst adjusting to a different sport, with some members being keen runners and others pure boaties who would much rather be on the river. Nevertheless, despite the results, the crew managed to get stronger and faster each day and it was amazing to see the individual improvements in each crew member’s times as the week progressed. Being awarded superspoons was not the crew’s intention, but the crew did end -6 after being bumped each day, and rather unfortunately over-bumped on day 2 right by the bottom finish, on day 1 by Lady Margaret W2, then Emmanuel W3, Clare Hall W1, and Addenbrookes W1 on the final day. However, this did not faze the crew’s morale, and despite being chased by some experienced and highly competitive crews, they still put up a fantastic fight. Let’s hope that next year their luck will be reversed on the water!

Alumni Division

We are especially excited that Virtual May Bumps was open to alumni and college staff members, giving our extended PCBC community the chance to get in on the glory! We fielded a total of five boats in the ‘Miscellaneous’ Division: the Pemgibeers, a Pembigeers alumni crew; Markets Away, a women’s alumnae crew; Going for ‘Broke, a men’s alumni crew; PembWIN, a combined Pembroke/Darwin alumni boat; and the Pemgibeers Development Squad, made up of recent alums and three college staff members!

Nine rowers and no cox- no wonder PembWIN spooned!

We would first of all like to say a big congratulations to the Pemgibeers for absolutely smashing the division, winning headship and leaving all the other crews far behind. Going for ‘Broke also held strong at the top of the division, with three row-overs and only one bump by Humertin Crockot Club to finish -1 at fifth on the river.

The Pemgibeers Dev Squad, a mixture of alums, final-year students and staff from the Development and Finance office showed an impressive effort with many of the crew members achieving personal bests regularly throughout the competition. However, the random determination of the starting order meant that some of the boats coming up the charts were just too fast and the Dev Squad ended up finishing -2 in the middle of the division.

Martlets Away, our women’s alumnae crew, unfortunately pulled the starting station two ahead of two CUWBC crews, the Matt Temple Challenge Cup and 6800. After a row-over on day 1, they ended up being bumped by the CUWBC crews on Thursday and Friday. Saturday held an unexpected surprise, however, and the bumps charts saw an exciting plot twist when Martlets Away double-overbumped the Jesus Oarful 88s, for an overall result of +3!

Our final Pembroke crew, PembWIN, was a composite crew composed of seven Darwin alums and your very own PCBC S&A reps Štefan and Sophie. Despite a hard fight every day, we graciously accepted our spoons, handed to us on the final day by CUWBC’s alumnae crew, 6800. However, our enthusiasm was not unnoticed, and PembWIN had the distinction of winning Saturday’s photo competition thanks to the fabulous Photoshop skills of Darwin’s Lisa Zillig (winning photo above)!

We’d like to point out a few of the highlights of the week, particularly:

  • Tim Sketchley of Going for ‘Broke for being our oldest participating PCBC alum (and, we assume, the most dedicated sexagenarian in the entire competition)!  Well done Tim!
  • Richard Ollington for organising the Pemgibeers crew and captaining them to headship
  • Joe Massingham for being a super-sub who had banked some last-minute times to submit on multiple occasions

Every single participant who had a personal best at any point during the four days of the competition and especially those who had a PB every single day, including:

  • Richard Ollington in the Pemgibeers
  • Chloe Ramambason, Daisy Prior, and James Roberts (Sr.) in Martlets Away
  • Hugo Kirby in Going for ‘Broke
  • Rhi Lyon in the Pemgibeers Dev Squad

If you missed the thrilling CamFM live results shows, you can listen to them from the archive here for the full Bumps experience:

Overall Results

Crew Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Total
M1 +1 +1 +1 0 +3
W1 0 +1 +1 +1 +3
M2 -1 -1 -1 0 -3
W2 -1 -3 -1 -1 -6
M3 -1 0 -1 0 -2
Pemgibeers +1 +1 0 0 +2
Going for ‘Broke 0 -1 0 0 -1
Pemgibeers Dev Squad 0 -1 0 -1 -2
PembWin -1 -1 -1 -1 -4
Martlets Away 0 -1 -1 +5 +3

Summer Training

Hardcore circuiteers in action

The sudden collapse of the rowing season at the end of March sent many PCBC members from daily organised training to almost no training at all. However, some land training did continue, as the Pembroke College Circuits Society leapt at the opportunity to increase Circuits attendance, even if it was via Zoom. For about three months from the start of lockdown until Virtual Bumps we ran two sessions a week, with an average attendance of about 20. After Bumps, organised Circuits took a step back as we started to save energy for next season (although weekly sessions continue for the hardcore circuiteers).

Preparations for next season have, however, now begun in earnest with a far-reaching summer training programme. 50 current members and alumni, joined into 5 ‘boats’, are participating in the three-phase competition, in which different forms of training earn points, and the ‘boats’ compete to earn the most. It’s probably PCBC’s biggest ever effort over a summer, so we have high hopes for next season!


Photo by Leander Boat Club

From Norwich to the Cam – an Exclusive Interview with PCBC’s Head Coach Seb Matthews

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m originally from Norwich, where I learnt to row, and was selected by a GB talent pathway called START. From there I was lucky enough to be invited to row at Leander, and in the summer of 2018 I represented Great Britain in the lightweights men’s quad.

How and why did you get started rowing?

At first, my sister was the rower of the family; I wanted to do anything but row. There was a coach at the club that always said I would be good and persuaded me to give it a go. After the first couple of weeks I was hooked by the sport.

Do you have a vision of what you think rowing is or what PCBC should be?

I am hoping in the next few years that we can continue to build on the results we have already seen this year, and also progress with recruiting more freshers every year after 80+ sign ups.                                                                             

What is the most insightful thing a coach has said to you?

My coach at Leander always told me that everything in rowing is earned. There is no way someone can turn up to the start line and expect to win without putting in the hours and hours of training. This always stuck with me and is one of the main reasons why I love the sport.

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve discovered in your first year as head coach?

I have never seen so many boats in morning outings. Coming from rowing on the river Yare, where we would have 5 singles out at a time on a 12k long river, compared to having well over 40 boats out at 6:30 in the morning was by far the biggest surprise when I started the job.

Photo by Leander Boat Club

What do you do outside of your PCBC life?

In my spare time I play basketball for the Cambourne Raptors. In the summer I enjoy surfing and paddleboarding either in Wales or the North Norfolk coast.

How have you survived the lockdown? Do you have any fun new skills?

I feel I have been very fortunate in lockdown as I was very lucky not to know anyone impacted by the virus. I did learn to play the ukulele and have been taking online Spanish lessons to pick up new skills and to keep me busy.

How do you think the alumni fit into the boat club?

They are by far the biggest driving force behind the boat club, from cheering on every boat at bumps to helping with coaching. They are a massive part of the team and Pembroke wouldn’t be the same without them.

Quick hits:

Sweep or scull? I have a sweet spot for sculling

Tea or coffee? Tea

Pembroke College Cambridge or Pembroke College Oxford? Got to be Cambridge!

Pembroke Trialists

We are pleased this year to have Rob Harris and Laura Stewart trialling for Cambridge University Boat Club, the new club representing what was previously thee separate squads (CUBC, CUWBC, and CULRC), and Amy Richardson as a cox currently training on the development squad. Since there was no opportunity for team training on the water as usual over the summer months, the university teams have had to get creative. In particular, the Dev Squad coxes have had sessions over zoom in which they looked at different aspects of coxing, from analysing rowing technique and how to build confidence in the boat to how to cox on the tideway. We know it has been difficult for coxes, many of whom have had no water time since March, and we are very impressed with Amy for diving headfirst into the training to keep her coxing knowledge ticking over. We are also pleased to welcome her as the new Coxing Representative on the 2020-2021 committee. While she will not be trialling this year due to injury, we look forward to her taking some of her new skills from the Dev Squad sessions to instil in both the senior and novice coxes for PCBC this year!

PCBC Spotlight: Dan Shailer and the English Channel

Towards the rising sun (Photo by Tilly Harrison)

In April of 2019, Dan Shailer, a third year English student and men’s side rower with PCBC, decided he wanted to swim the English Channel. In January of 2020, he started his training. On 4th August, he swam his way to France.

You can read his reflection on having completed such an enormous undertaking below:

My Channel swim took just over 15 hours but was a project eight months in training, and more than a year in planning: from winter swimming in the river Cam (well away from boathouses!) to training off the beach in Dover. The swim itself was a very humbling experience; unlike rowing, success does not mean looking back on a defeated crew but a sense of having just scraped through against water that is much stronger and more powerful than any human being. Nonetheless we continue to find ways to damage and destroy marine environments. I was very proud to raise over £10,000 for the Marine Conservation Society during my training and the swim – please consider donating here if you are able.

You can also read more about my adventure here:

Diary Dates

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the exact way that college rowing and Cam rowing events will work in Michaelmas 2020 is still unclear. PCBC will of course be following all British Rowing advice and working with the college to ensure that the health and safety of our rowers, coaches, and the Cambridge community is our top priority.

However, we are hoping for a successful term with many returning seniors, strong novice uptake and enjoyable training on water and land to prepare the rowers for the 2021 Bumps campaign! We will keep you updated as we have more news about the Michaelmas races and any opportunities for rowing in our alumni crews!

As always, thank you to our sponsors, King and Spalding, for their continued support. They have allowed us to continue investing in high quality coaching and equipment, as well as injury prevention and recovery for all of our athletes.

The 2020-2021 Committee

Due to the current coronavirus situation, the PCBC Annual General Meeting was not organised as usual after the May Bumps Dinner. Instead, the 2019-2020 committee called an Extraordinary General Meeting on 9th August, run via Zoom, to elect the 2020-2021 committee. We would like to thank the outgoing committee for all their efforts throughout the year!

We are proud to introduce your new PCBC Committee for the 2020-2021 academic year: 

President: Sir Richard Dearlove

Senior Treasurer: Dr Johannes Kromdijk

Boatman: Kevin Bowles Esq.

Head Coach: Seb Matthews

Captain of Boats: Tom Sharp

Men’s Captain: Toby Chesser

Women’s Captain: Abby Robinson

Men’s Vice Captain: Charles Dudley

Women’s Vice Captain: Ellen Sparshott

Men’s Lower Boats Captains: Itay Yaniv, Sebastiaan Hoek, Lester Li

Women’s Lower Boats Captains: Maribel Ercilla, Natalie Stokes, Felicity White

Coxing Representative: Amy Richardson

Junior Treasurer: Bence Kovács

Secretary: Rob Perry

Social Secretary: Ben Hatton

Regatta Secretary: Elizabeth Bedwell

Internet Secretary: Victoria Moreland

Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives: Roxy Southern, Štefan Stanko, Sophie Van Horne

Volunteering and Staying Connected

Alumni support is crucial when it comes to coaching of Pembroke crews – we can all think about the alums who sharpened our catches back in the day! If you would like to contribute to the ongoing success of PCBC through coaching, please get in touch with the Overall Captain, Tom Sharp, or the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives. It would be fantastic to see our current crews inspired by previous successes, especially in these challenging times!

And, as always, follow our social media for the latest news!





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