Peterhouse Boat Club


This page lists the general news. For race reports see here and here for alumni-related news.

Henley Royal Regatta (Race Report)

Posted by Oliver Wettern on Tuesday 21st October 2014
Henley Royal Regatta – CULRC pair - written by Andrei Lebed

'Andrei Lebed started rowing two years ago at Peterhouse, and quickly proved a natural. This year he was instrumental both to the CULRC win over Oxford, and to the Peterhouse M1 success in the May Bumps. He continued to train in a lightweight pair over the Easter term, with fellow Cantabrigian Will Hayes, and they qualified for the Henley Royal Regatta.' - Oli Wettern

The CULRC pair beat Thames RC (both ex New Zealand internationals) by 3ft on Thursday in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup. The pair was beaten easily on Friday by the Dutch national pai,r who won the Final on Sunday.

After arriving in Henley on Tuesday evening to find a new boat that was unrowable due to a bent bowside pin, Will and I were a bit concerned. Fortunately, Steve Harris (aka Bomber) was on the case and thanks to his exceptional boatmanship we had a new pin installed and were ready to row during the lunchtime paddle on Wednesday. Needless to say, paddling during HRR in a pair is a whole different experience when compared with paddling on the Cam. The water was choppy, unpredictable, and we could barely take 10 strokes in a row because of other crews and cruisers. Knowing it would only get worse during the week, we focussed on what we could control – our rowing.

On Thursday we had a pre-race paddle at tea-time. The traffic was still pretty bad, but we learnt to adapt to it better and this time Will was happier with his steering in the new pair. Our starts and paddle down the course were strong. The only thing that worried us was the headwind – you could really feel it beating on your back and decelerating the boat every stroke. The realisation that an already long course in a pair would be a minute longer due to the conditions was not pleasant, but we were pacified with the knowledge that the Thames pair would be equally fatigued by the conditions, despite being 3 stone heavier per man.

The race against Thames went pretty quickly, despite the 8 and something minutes of racing into a strong headwind. Our race plan was well executed. We hit the start as hard as we could, and then kept attacking every minute until we had broken the opposite crew. After 3 or 4 minutes we were almost 3 lengths up – Thames could not even see us. The hope was that this would dishearten the ex-New Zealand internationals and break their resolve. However, with credit to them, they kept fighting until the line, impressively eating up the 2.5 length gap to only lose by a mere 3 feet. Will and I were quite sure we would win coming into the last 20 strokes where we still had a length or so on Thames, so we were surprised to hear that the margin was as close as it was! Needless to say we were still very pleased, as this was the first time we had beaten this pair despite racing them several times at domestic regattas earlier in the season.

On Friday we were up against the select Dutch national pair that had claimed silver at the European Championships just before. Nothing to fear! We approached the race in exactly the same way – our objective was the try to worry them off the start. In retrospect, we did exactly that. A minute in we were half a length up when the tough wind conditions forced us onto their station, and the Dutch crew crashed into the booms. Pinsent, the umpire, stopped the race and called for a restart from the stakeboats. Unfortunately the second time round we had lost the element of surprise, and were already quite tired from the monster minute start we had just executed. We kept contact until the end of the island, but the wall of wind that hit us just after saw us slow down and the Dutch pair pull ahead to win easily.

The Dutch pair went on to beat the GB pair by a fair margin, and rowed through the South African pair on Sunday to win the Silver Goblets event. Will and I decided to enjoy the remainder of the regatta in blazers and chinos, with no shortage of Pimms or good company!

Lent Bumps 2014 (Race Report)

Posted by Oliver Wettern on Monday 20th October 2014
Lent Bumps Campaign Race Report - written by Oli Wettern

After the successes of last year, culminating in the fantastic May Bumps campaigns, this year has been about rebuilding and consolidating the Club. With excellent retention rates among the novices, and a real desire to succeed, training has been hard, but has paid dividends as crews have come together and rowing technique has improved. Unfortunately a combination of poor weather and the partial closure of the Green Dragon footbridge meant that training, particularly in the lower boats, was often curtailed. All crews went into Lents unsure of how they compared to other crews, but determined to give their all!

- M1: down 3, from 7th to 10th in 1st division
- W1: up 2, from 16th to 14th in 1st division
- M2: down 1, from 4th to 5th in 3rd division
- W2: up 2, from 3rd to 1st in 3rd division

M1 were faced with the daunting task of defending 7th position in the top division. A particularly fresh crew, with only two previous M1 rowers, they were looking to gain experience and see how they matched the competition. On the first day they were unlucky to be caught by Pembroke, having closed down LMBC to less than a boat length. On day 2 they were bumped by a strong Christ’s crew despite holding station on Pembroke. Day 3 they rowed over solidly, easily holding off Girton behind to be bumped by St Catharine’s. Day 4 saw the best row yet, despite being bumped by a blading St Cat’s just past Ditton Corner. The results do not reflect the experience gained, and success in coming together as a crew, which undoubtedly stood M1 in good stead for Easter Term and the May Bumps.

With training having been much disrupted by the weather, the Lents was W1’s first race together, meaning a steep learning curve! Nevertheless they were to rise magnificently to the challenge, and continue to push on up the Bumps charts. Day 1 saw them rapidly gain on Trinity Hall, bumping them before their first corner after only around a minute of racing. Day 2 saw a solid rowover with no chance of a bump, while Day 3 gave them the chance to send King’s on their way to spoons – another bump. With two bumps and a rowover notched up, Day 4 saw an intense battle as King’s sought to bump back up. While the King’s crew got as close as three whistles, W1 had reserves left in the tank; taking the rate to 41 proved enough to put paid to King’s!

M2 had a very unlucky start to their Bumps campaign, being over-bumped on the first day due to an unfortunate crab. Nevertheless they put this behind them and came back strongly through the week. Day 2 saw a bump on Selwyn II, continuing what is becoming a long-term rivalry, with Selwyn II also a close competitor in M2’s division of the Mays. Day 3 saw a strong rowover, with little scope for excitement, before the final day saw an excellent chase and deserved bump on Clare II. 5th in the 3rd division is a very respectable place to be, and this year’s crop of novices gained valuable experience which stands them in good stead for the future.

Headships of divisions should always be celebrated, and W2 were the stars in that regard this year, rising to headship of the 3rd division, and sending two crews on their way to spoons in the process. All this despite weather and timetabling conspiring against getting as many outings as they would have liked! On Day 1 they started off Caius II on the slide to spoons, gaining confidence with this first bump. Day 2 saw a strong row over – though perhaps the distance was not to their liking, since on Day 3 they determined to avoid it by bumping St Edmund’s I and moving to top of the division. Rowing both in the 3rd and 2nd divisions as sandwich boat is always tiring – W2 can be commended on an extremely successful and professional week.

Overall the Club gained a lot from the Lent Bumps – in results of course, but moreover in experience and attitude. Crews came together, individual technique improved, and novices especially gained a greater understanding of the Bumps and just how much effort must be put in to achieve the desired results! Caprice and luck always play a part in the Bumps, and did not perhaps always run in our favour. Both Men’s and Women’s sides can be congratulated on strong and well fought campaigns however. With bumps notched up, everyone looked to take their enthusiasm and experience forward into Easter term and the May Bumps.

Michaelmas 2013 - Senior Men (Race Report)

Posted by Andrei Lebed on Tuesday 14th January 2014

This term started with problems that continued to pester us all the way through: injury and side-issues. Due to this two members had to double up.

The first race, of the IV-B, went of stroke rate 36 and settle there. Although originally feeling good the fast start hit us as we passed the Plough, resulting in the rate dropping to about 31. From there it was a struggle to the finish, but we kept our form and pushed all the way through. Not a bad start of the term.

The second race, the IV-A decided to not repeat the IV-B's mistake and went for a steady rate 32, probably too low. But never mind, we won anyway!

WINTER HEAD MEN'S SECTION (IV-A, VIII (formed of both fours approximately), IV-B)

Today was going to be a long day, with three races, from the first division to the last. More doubling/trebling up was required.

The event itself was quite uneventful. People rowed, people died, people finished. The results were promising: both the IV-A and IV-B beat the respective other colleges first and second IVs, which is a good sign for more to come for Fairbairns!

The VIII was lagging, understandably, as we had been focusing on the IVs.

VETERAN FOURS HEAD IV-A (written by the whole crew)

As all good crews do in Peterhouse, no race is complete without a crew pasta the night before the race. This is a time where the crew can get together and talk race tactics, motivational calls, how Sirius Black actually died by falling into a curtain, who Tom Bomberdil from the LOTR universe is and why he has a “hot” wife (complete with Nick reading the “Song of Tom Bomberdil”), and eating “The Queen Mother’s Favourite Cake”. All present concluded she must have had a very good taste in cake as it was delicious.

Our plan of action the next day was to simply hop on the 6:30 train to London, and then from Kings Cross get the tube across London to where our boat was being dropped off. Not liking the prospect of being late and the boat being one mile away from our launch site, we were eager to get to the train station early. However, upon arrival, all trains to London were cancelled. Unsurprisingly, the engineers who were working on the lines the night before had decided to work on both lines rather than one and had, as most British Engineering Works do, overran. The nice people at the station gave us all compensation forms, and ushered us out back into the cold air of a 6am Sunday morning.

Fortunately, Captain “international” Henk knew that there was a coach to London from Cambridge, and crew members who had “Non-stupid” phones discovered that the coach would be leaving from Parker’s Piece very soon. For reasons mentioned previously, we did not want to be late, carrying a coxed IV down the streets of London did not seem like an appealing option. A brisk walk followed, and after forking out more money, we were finally on the way to London (albeit a while after we had originally planned). Soon we were graced by the sights of London, and after working our way round onto the tube train we should be on, finally arrived at the place we were going to launch off, only half an hour later than originally planned. With the boat ready and rigged to go it was soon time to push off for our paddle up to the startline!

Rowing in tide was a new experience to all but one of the crew, and as we paddled up we joined the other 200 or so crews parading up the side of the Thames. Being marshalled by Ribs like a sheep dog herding us up to the bank, we had to keep moving in order to stay in our position and prevent piling into the boats behind us. There was one main worry coxing the tideway - Hammersmith Bridge. On the racing instructions it was written in massive red text -if you miss the line under the bridge (going under the second lamp post from the left of the buttress), you could be swept into the pier by the tide on the other side of the bridge, which has in the past, “nearly caused fatalities”. Concluding that that part of the course would be less daunting had the text been written in nice big friendly letters, we therefore renamed these two points as the “Bridge of Doom” and the “Pier of Death”.

So the race began, and we set off at a good rate of 34, settling down to 32 1/2/33 for the rest of the course. Following the parade of boats down the Thames, we quickly started to overtake crews in front of us. It was a bit strange being on such a wide river as the Thames, being used to the Cam where we have to fight for our bit of the river. Furthermore, rowing with the tide made it feel like every stroke made us go even faster. The hardest part of taking the correct lines was around the large bends, because unlike on the Cam, where the quickest course is to take a wide line into and narrow out of the corner, the quickest route around the bends on the Thames was to follow the line of the quickest stream.

And now for a rower's perspective: we went into the start smoothly, as we were almost last of the division. We immediately saw the crew behind us fading away, after which we ended up in a vacuum. As we were coming up to Hamersmith we overtook the first boat, after which we kept overtaking boats (about 7 in total). That is not to say it was easy, though the plan was to stick at 33 we could not maintain it. We tried our best but averaged 32 1/2.

After the finish we started the long, long row back to the boating location, after which it was not until much later we could eat some McDonald's and head to Cambridge to sleeeeep...

We came a third, 20s behind the winner. All in all, it was a learning curve for us all.


With our parachuted in Blondie-colours cox, unbeaten status on the Cam this term by college crews nothing could go wrong for this IV-A. We were nervous before the start. Bomber told us that this was our race---we started first with the IV-B following us---this was our chance to show the Cam what we've got.

And so we did. Going off hard at rate 38, settling at about rate 35 dropping to not below 33 1/2. The pain was insufferable from Tesco/White Bridge but we pushed on, with motivational and technical feedback coming from Matt Bryan. We seemed to be doing well, the IV-B was nowhere in sight.

As we were coming under Chesterton---passed halfway we were told to stay strong, and that we were doing well. We soldiered on to the railway bridge, and we showed no signs of faltering. We knew what we were going for, and nothing except divine intervention would be able to stop us.

As we made our entrance to Ditton corner, the unspeakable happened. No, it was not bowside having blown up, the rudder snapped right off. By the time Matt realized it was too late, and we crashed on the outside.of Ditton corner.

We lost by about 20 seconds, let us say it was an emotional Boat Club Dinner. The crew will forever remember Bomber's summary of the result. Next year will be when we set things right for losing Fairbairns two years running: third time lucky.

Looking at this result, and of the rest of the term I can only say one things: it has been amazing, we have shown ourselves we can row hard, even if injury, side-issues and equipment try to prevent us. Bring on the Lents!

Race report written by Henk-Jaap Wagenaar

Michaelmas 2013 - Novice Men (Race Report)

Posted by Andrei Lebed on Tuesday 14th January 2014
Novice Men Rowing Report - written by Jack Lewis and Tim Beach
This term saw Jack and I take on the challenge of training 16 novice men the rowing basics ready for their blades campaign in the Lent bumps.
After another successful BBQ at the beginning of term, the commitment, enthusiasm and determination of the 16 who willingly (although perhaps naively) signed the dotted line at no point wavered, and not one missed a single session.
By week 3 we were already rowing all 8, the structure of the stroke was looking good and the novices were catching together, coupled with some pretty impressive erg times. Peterhouse Novice Men were already a formidable force on the Cam.
Our first opportunity to compare ourselves with the other colleges was Queen Erg’s and an average split of 1.37.1 saw us come 7th in our division, a promising start!
Our first race was Emma Sprints and unfortunately a seat issue meant 5 had to stop rowing and once overcome it was too late to close the distance between us and Magdalene, however we were looking strong up to that point and had gained almost half a boat length. Unfortunately a slight crash in our second race meant we were unable to unleash our full potential yet again. No matter, it was a great introduction to racing and excuse to dress up as the Pope on holiday!
Next was Clare Novice Regatta, unfortunately a crab off the start meant that Downing were able to open up a too larger gap for the Novices to close although a courageous effort was made and we saw some of their best rowing yet.
Finally Fairbairn’s arrived with two novice men boats scheduled to race. However, having to contend with an injury and Jonas and Thomas being out of the country, we had to double-up. The weather on the day was miserable, and high winds meant the reach was more akin to coastal rowing. No matter our first boat had a great race, settling into a strong rhythm that meant they easily tackled the waves and wind finishing with a competitive time of 12:15.7 despite a boat stopping crab near the start. To our dismay, the weather worsened as the day went on meaning the second race was called off. However, the novices had already done Jack and I proud and we are looking forward to rowing with them next term, whenthey will be a great asset to the club.
Also a big thank you to Charlotte Coles for providing us with 3 novice coxes who showed great intuition, rudder skill and coxing ability in a variety of situations from high winds to high traffic, all those who helped us out with coaching – Kate Ashley, Hannah Laidley, Henk-JaapWagenaar, David Walsh and Nick Friend, and our suitably excessive Fairbairn’s bankparty!

The Crews

Popes on Holiday- Jonas Baier
Daumantas Kavolis
Phil Ovington
Lukas Helfinger
Jack Yates
Alex Fairclough
Qubekani Moyo
Thomas Wagner

Clare Novice Regatta – Max Schinke
Ollie Bell
Jonas Baier
Kevin Dialdestoro
Phil McKeown
Adrito Das
Harry Ruffell
Duncan Palka

Fairbairn’s I – Max Schinke
Ollie Bell
Arnas Gercas
Daumantas Kavolis
Phil McKeown
Lukas Helfinger
Thomas Wagner
Duncan Palka

Fairbairn’s II – Phil Ovington
Qubekani Moyo
Kevin Dialdestoro
Harry Ruffell
Adrito Das
Alex Fairclough
Jack Kayes
Jonas Baier

Very well done to Daumantas, Ollie and Max who agreed to double-up for Fairbairn’s!

Michaelmas 2013 - Novice Women (Race Report)

Posted by Andrei Lebed on Friday 27th December 2013
Race Report written by Oli Wettern, LBO

The term has been an extremely productive one for the Novice Women, proving that success can be attained without having to undergo the cold hinterland of Michaelmas term early-morning outings! The squad quickly settled into a keen and motivated group of eleven, who along with a fresh crop of novice coxes, have developed a real sense of teamwork in the course of the term.
The first few weeks went well, with the crew progressing extremely quickly to rowing as an VIII, feathered blades. Having set down this benchmark early on the coaching could therefore concentrate on improving individual technique and getting the crew to row more coherently, rather than still worrying about the absolute basics of the rowing stroke. As the crew became more confident going down to the Lock became the norm for our outings, rather than the end of term rarity that it can sometimes seem for novice crews. With the distance put in, the rhythm and timing improved, and the potential in the boat became clear.
The crew’s first test was Emma Sprint – eschewing the distractions of fancy dress, they overcame technical difficulties to power through the opening rounds, including an excellent fight back from being half a length down to come through and win by a length. Unfortunately our opponents in the semi-final combined with windy conditions to prove too strong for us; nevertheless, being in the top four crews is in itself a great achievement, and we were extremely pleased. The crew’s ability to remain relaxed under pressure boded well for the altogether more daunting Fairbairn’s race.
This proved to be an absolute nightmare weather-wise – white-topped waves on the Long Reach were a new experience for crews normally restricted to only rowing under green flags. However the girls managed admirably, keeping a solid race-pace all the way through to the finish, and posting an excellent upper half time, well within the top portion of the other novice crews. The row back against the wind was certainly interesting, but the celebrations of Boat Club Dinner more than made up for any next day soreness!
It has been great fun coaching the Novice Squad this term – we look forward to seeing them carry their dedication into the Senior Squad next term, and realise the potential they undoubtedly have, both as a crew and as individuals.
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