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Boat Race 2022: Classics student Luca Ferraro ends 68-year wait for a King's College openweight men's rowing Blue

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Cambridge University Boat Club bow man Luca Ferraro, right, with Oxford's Liam Corrigan. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University Boat Club bow man Luca Ferraro, right, with Oxford's Liam Corrigan. Picture: Keith Heppell

Luca Ferraro will make history by becoming the first student of King’s College to row in the men’s Gemini Boat Race for 68 years on Sunday.

The college has a proud record of students competing in the women’s and lightweight boat races, with Dylan Whitaker coxing the Light Blues to victory in the women’s race last year at Ely and Fanny Belais winning a Blue in 2015.

But you have to go back to 1953 to find the last participant from King’s in the men’s race; it was GT Marshall, the CUBC president who rowed in the No 3 seat.

“I’m just shell-shocked about it all really,” says 19-year-old Ferraro.

“It’s just such a nice thing as I love being at King’s. It goes with the history of the race as well – it’s such a special thing and to be able to do that in such a special way with the college is really nice.

“Rowing at King’s is still a really strong thing, and the club is a great environment that has created great athletes, just more on the lightweight and women’s side in recent years.

“We’ve got a long history of the last couple of decades of producing lightweight athletes and athletes for the women’s Boat Race, but to be the first rower in the men’s race for nearly 70 years is special.”

Ferraro is a Classics student in his second year at the university.

His interest in the subject came through doing Latin at GCSE, but it was not something that he was able to pursue at A-level. However, there was an opportunity to bridge the gap with a special course that Cambridge are pioneering with a prelim year for those that did not have access to A-level Latin or Greek.

“I think it’s just a great thing to be on. I love Classics as a subject, but it’s certainly not unreasonably known as an archaic one, certainly being tied into subjects that are only really studied at the top public schools in the country,” says Ferraro.

“It can be one that is cut-off to the general population. This four-year course that is open to basically everyone with an interest in classics is such a brilliant thing to be able to do.”

Cambridge University Boat Club bow man Luca Ferraro. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University Boat Club bow man Luca Ferraro. Picture: Keith Heppell

The preliminary year still allowed Ferraro to trial. Having raced for Team GB in the double sculls at the Coupe De La Jeunesse in 2019, in his first year at Cambridge he went the distance through the trialling process to race in the spare pair with Konstantinos Voudouris.

“It was a really tough year for everyone, and being my first year in the system it was quite strange having that being my first experience with CUBC,” he says. “But even through all the lockdowns, all the setbacks, it was still such a great environment to come into. This year has just been worlds apart.”

Despite describing selection for the Blue boat as “seeing the hard yards from last year as paying off”, there can be no disguising Ferraro’s surprise at earning a place in the crew.

“It’s been, frankly, unbelievable,” he says. “People say that a lot but, honestly, if you’d asked me at the start of this year, in September, when we all turned up what I wanted out of this season, this would have been insane to suggest.

“With rowing, you can always look at there is so much to achieve, especially with the Boat Race.

“It seems as if it is all about and around one race, and making selection, winning the race, the important things, but actually it’s such a process-driven sport.

“We spend hours and hours and hours, week in, week out all for this one moment, if that’s what it’s all about it doesn’t really work. More than anything else, it’s just been such an enjoyable year in terms of training and I’ve just had such a great time really.”

It would be topped off in what could be a classic race if Ferraro can emulate GT Marshall’s success, 68 years on, and it is assured that all the King’s eyes will be watching on.

Read more:

Boat Race 2022: A guide to the Cambridge University men's crew

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Boat Race 2022: A show of fortitude sees James Bernard earn a Blue in Cambridge University's No 2 seat

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Boat Race 2022: Meet the Cambridge University Boat Club men’s crew to face Oxford

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