Spring Newsletter 2021

Published by Victoria Moreland on

2020-2021 Spring Newsletter

Hello, and welcome to PCBC’s Spring Newsletter! This has been another unusual term for PCBC marked again by the challenges of COVID, with restrictions making it impossible to be out on the water for most of term. We are happy to report that our crews and committee have once again taken the government guidelines in stride and that rowing has been able to restart in the last few weeks! We hope that you are all keeping safe and well, and that you are enjoying the glorious weather as lockdown restrictions are lifting in the UK!

Roxy Southern, Štefan Stanko and Sophie Van Horne
Sponsorship & Alumni Representatives 2020-21

Lockdown Training

Over Lent Term, PCBC was once again barred from the water. But once again, we were keen not to let such trivialities stop us, and we spent the term training hard as part of a specially made “Panvalencian Games”. In this, we competed in teams to earn points by training, hitting our plans, and participating in competitions, and we spurred each other on with numerous online socials. The upshot of this is that we have managed to keep a large club going into the new term, with around 11 boats through the club including our big new novice intake.


A bird (martlet?) by Charles Dudley as one of the Strava Art Challenge submissions for Panvalencian Games.

When rowing became legal again, we organised as many holiday outings as we could for those in Cambridge, and as more of the college filtered back for Easter Term we had an action filled 10 day training camp to rediscover our muscle memory. This finished with M1 entering the Head of the Cam, and finishing in second place, 2.1 seconds behind glory. It seems set to be an exciting term: PCBC has incomparably more boats out on the river than any other college. Bumps-Replacement-Regatta fame beckons.

Toby Chesser (2018), Men’s Captain, 2020-21

PCBC Coxes

Coxing in lockdown certainly has its challenges; the lack of boats and rowers very much changed what it meant to be a PCBC cox during Lent. However, our coxes rose admirably to the challenges, with weekly Zoom coxing analysis sessions resuming again and many taking part in the Panvalencian Games, earning points both for creating and consuming coxing resources and for their own physical training. It has been great to get some of our coxes back on the water in April, with all donning their PPE and navigating the baffling weather fluctuations, from 20 degree heat to snow! Heading into Easter Term we have an unprecedented number of coxes aiming to make boats, which should make for a super exciting term!

Amy Richardson (2019), Coxing Representative 2020-21

18 Fitz Street after their last day’s regatta run. Photo by Tom Sharp.

On trend with the rest of 2020-21, this year’s Pembroke Regatta was unprecedented. Due to take place on the 20th February, in the midst of another lockdown, how could we put on a rowing competition without access to boats, or the river? PCBC’s Regatta committee had to get creative. The solution: crews of four ran 1100 m (the distance from the Stump at the bottom of the Long Reach to Peter’s Posts) and submitted their times virtually to race against other crews in a head-to-head regatta style competition taking place over four days.

 The Virtual Pembroke Regatta 2021 was a surprising success. There were 12 Alumni crews, 25 Women’s crews, and 32 Men’s crews entered in total, including 17 crews from Pembroke College. Over the four days the competitors racked up a mega 1161.6 km.

 Particular highlights of the event include the starting line-up of the Alumni division with half the crews coming from PCBC, the hotly contested battle between Pembroke NW1 and Pembroke W2, and the consistent speed of Pembroke W1 which saw them claim a victory by over a minute. Finally, the Pembroke Virtual Regatta Drinks Reception organised by the amazing Alumni and Sponsorship Reps was a perfect way to end the final day of racing, giving us the chance to catch up with PCBC members from past and present, share memories of past regattas, and look ahead to when we will be back on the river again.

Elizabeth Bedwell (2017), Regatta Secretary 2020-21

Ian Schmertzler wading through snow in Utah. Lent Bumps 2018 flashbacks
Chloe and Molly after their last bridge-to-bridge Regatta run in London. Love to see all the stash!

PCBC Alumni in Pembroke Regatta

The silver lining of lockdown regattas is that anyone in the world can take part. Similarly to Virtual May Bumps 2020, PCBC alumni crews dominated the division in quantity – we entered 5 out of 10 racing crews!

Buswell Boat was a family boat entered by Marina (1998) and Mark (1998) Buswell. As a crew of five, including their sons Daniel, Peter and Edmund (9-16 years old), they managed to fit in running around the busy parents’ schedule and get the miles down on a muddy towpath in Hertfordshire. Despite problems with GPS tracking, Buswell Boat showed an impressive effort, winning two of their races!

Back in the Eighties, as the name suggests, was a crew composed of PCBC alumnae from the 80s – in fact, the PCBC rowers from the first women’s side boats! With the challenges of trying to synchronise over a half of the globe (Rebecca Caroe was racing from New Zealand!), Back in the Eighties finished as the fastest PCBC alum crew.

Fantastic Four, a crew composed of recent PCBC alumnae based in London and Cambridge, showed an incredible team spirit when they reunited to do their final day runs in pairs (in keeping with COVID restrictions, of course). The odds were not in the crew’s favour when it came to the draw as they had to race multiple men’s crews, but in the end they secured the second place among the PCBC alum crews.

Vintage 90s kit from Marina and Mark Buswell

The Master Martlets had to face similar challenges as Back in the Eighties. The crew consisted predominantly of alumni who matriculated in the 70s and 80s, with John Maeck (1982) racing in San Francisco. The Master Martlets really came together as a crew, keeping the crew chat (email thread) active for long after the Regatta.

Finally, The Blue Moose is Loose was a crew made up of our younger alumni and our Head Coach Seb – two of the crew members had been coxes during their time at Pembroke. A special shoutout goes to Ian Schmertzler (2009), who was running in Alta, Utah, at more than 2600 m altitude and who had to cope with 50 inches of snow, avalanche risk and resulting order to remain indoors.

Shoutouts to other alumni rowers who continuously improved throughout the week – Marina Buswell (Buswell Boat), Caroline Holmes (Back in the Eighties) and Chloe Ramambason (Fantastic Four)! For more pictures from the races and race summaries, check out the PCBC Instagram account!

Roxy Southern, Štefan Stanko and Sophie Van Horne
Sponsorship & Alumni Representatives 2020-21

The Boat Race and PCBC Trialists

In light of the COVID restrictions and poor state of the Hammersmith Bridge, The Boat Race Company Limited announced in November 2020 that the 166th Men’s and 75th Women’s Boat Race would be held on the River Great Ouse in Ely. This would be only the second time in Boat Race history that the race would be held off the Thames in Ely, the first being during the Second World War in 1944.

The Boat Race was a closed event with no spectators allowed, and while we would all love to stand on the river bank with a pint in the hand, we followed the motto of the event – Stay safe. Stay away. Watch The Gemini Boat Race 2021 live on the BBC. On the 4th April, about 50 alumni and current PCBC members gathered on Zoom to watch the Boat Race virtually. It was a great pleasure to welcome PCBC alumnae Cath Bishop (1989) and Georgina Charlesworth (1988) who both rowed in the Blue Boat in the 1991 Boat Race in Henley. Cath and Georgina shared their journey from being novices at PCBC to representing CUWBC, discussed a wide range of Boat-Race-related topics and showed precious memorabilia from the 1990s. The discussion was followed by a social hour after the races, with some splendid reunions ranging from past rowing crews to College families.

Blue Boat in the 1991 Boat Race in Henley with PCBC alumnae Cath Bishop (5 seat) and Georgina Charlesworth (bow). Photo by Georgina Charlesworth.
Goldie leaving Isis 6 lengths behind on the Men’s Reserve Boat Race in Ely. Rob Harris in the 3 seat of Goldie.

After a pair of thrilling races, both Cambridge crews secured their victories. You can view the races on the Boat Race Youtube channel and read the Gemini Boat Race Digital Magazine to find out more about the event organisation including interviews with the crews, coaches and Cath Bishop!

Unfortunately, the current COVID restrictions did not allow for the reserve and lightweight crews to train on water before 29th March and race against their Oxford opponents on the same day as the Blue Boats. However, the Boat Race Men’s & Women’s Reserve Races and Spare Pair’s races finally took place on Sunday 25th April. A dramatic set of races saw Blondie beating Osiris by 7 lengths, Goldie beating Isis by 6 lengths, Cambridge Women’s Pair winning and Cambridge Men’s Pair losing by several lengths. Massive congratulations to Rob Harris from PCBC who raced in the 3 seat of Goldie! You can read the full race reports here.

The Lightweight Boat Races are set to take place on Tuesday 18th May in Ely. We wish our PCBC trialist Laura Stewart the best of luck and hope the crews can enjoy the races as much as the Blues and Reserve crews did!

We are hoping to be able to celebrate the Boat Race in person next year, either on the traditional Championship course or on another unconventional venue.

Roxy Southern, Štefan Stanko and Sophie Van Horne 
Sponsorship & Alumni Representatives 2020-21

Thoughts from the Head Coach

We have finally made it back onto the water in the past couple of weeks and the crews have exceeded my expectations. Although it has been mainly fours with a couple of scullers, the work the Pembroke captains have put in to keep our rowers motivated and fit during lockdown has really been shown in the quality of the boats I have seen so far. One of the highlights was watching the Boat Race with the Pembroke watch-along. It was great to see so many alumni on the Zoom call and listening to a great insight from Cath Bishop and Georgina Charlesworth. Moving on from this, we had more rowers returning for our pre-term camp, which commenced on the 17th April. As it currently stands, we have 10 boats overall with plenty of keen novices. With having this many boats it is going to require plenty of coaches at all different levels so if there are any alumni interested in coaching, feel free to contact me headcoach@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com.

Seb Matthews, Head Coach

Easter Term Diary Dates

For anyone who lives in Cambridge (or wherever the races take place!) or fancies making the trek on a weekend, we would love to have the support of PCBC members past and present on the bank at our upcoming races if the COVID rules and regulations allow! The following dates are provisional and may change according to the pandemic situation.

May 9th – Radegund Mile
May 16th – Champs Eights Head
May 30th – Cambridge Spring Regatta
June 8th – X-Press Head
June – May Bumps Regatta
June 24th-26th – BUCS Regatta (Nottingham)
July 2nd-4th – Henley Women’s Regatta
August 11th-15th – Henley Royal Regatta

We are sad to report that CUCBC Committees have decided to cancel May Bumps this year. Given that most college rowers and coxes have only had 4 weeks of training in the past 12 months, and that students are unlikely to return to Cambridge en masse before 17th May, it is not possible to safely organise the traditional Mays.  Instead, there will be a non-contact rowing event, to take place at the end of term – a four-day side-by-side regatta along the Pembroke Regatta course! Keep your eyes open for more updates and we hope to see you in person next year to make up for the time away!

Thank you again 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.

Volunteering and Staying Connected

In order to maintain a lively relationship between current rowers and our alumni/ae, and to strengthen the PCBC community, we would like to morph the PCBC Association into an official alumni boat club. We’ll be looking to fill a number of committee positions soon, so if you are keen to get involved, please get in touch with the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives at sponsorshipalumni@pembrokecollegeboatclub.com! We’re hard at work on an all-new constitution that will lay out how the alumni boat club will operate and will have more information once we present the document for final approval at PCBC’s AGM at the end of term.

Alumni support is especially 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 directly with the Head Coach Seb Matthews or Overall Captain Tom Sharp, or email the Sponsorship and Alumni Representatives to be connected. 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!

Website: www.pembrokecollegeboatclub.com

IG: www.instagram.com/pcbccambridge

FB: www.facebook.com/PCBCCambridge

Twitter: twitter.com/pcbccambridge

Pembroke Regatta Twitter: twitter.com/pemregatta

We continue to use our PCBC alumni Facebook group for keeping in contact between newsletters.  If you are not already connected, please visit us here to join in order to stay updated with the latest news, opportunities to order PCBC stash, and alumni rowing opportunities!

Row on PCBC!

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