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Cantabrigian Rowing Club goes from strength to strength

By Mark Taylormark.taylor@iliffemedia.co.uk

Action from the final day of the Town Bumps. Picture - Richard Marsham
Action from the final day of the Town Bumps. Picture - Richard Marsham

Double headship in the Town Bumps for the second year running

Andy Johnson believes maintaining the historic culture of Cantabrigian Rowing Club is one of the reasons for their current success.

The men’s and women’s first crews retained their headships of the Town Bumps, making it a double double.

It means that the men have finished No 1 in Division One for 11 of the last 13 years, and four times in a row in their current run.

Johnson and Tom Copeland are the architects of much of the success, as the lead coaches of the men’s and women’s squad respectively.

Cantabs was founded in 1950 as a rowing club for the old boys of Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, now Hills Road Sixth Form College, but have been an open club since the 1960s.

Johnson has been a member of the club since 1972, and in 1974 was the first non-old boy to be Cantabs club captain.

“In a sense, we’ve managed to maintain the same culture within the club and this is by a lot of people rolling their sleeves up, and there is an army of people out there who help,” said Johnson.

“I don’t know how many people coach regularly on the bank; it must be in the 20s. That’s what it all comes down to, having people prepared to help really.”

“We’ve got a lot of veterans/masters and that’s always a good thing for the club to have because you’ve got a lot of people around all the time and they tend to help out.

“As one of the guys put it the other day, it’s absolutely great to see us at the top of these events like the Town Bumps, and for that matter the Winter League and other such events, but it’s also great to see us right at the bottom as well.

“It reflects a broad spread.

“We’ve got crews coming in right at the bottom, with a J15 eight who are youngsters who the first time they touched a sweep blade was a week before the bumps. That’s where the future lies.”

Mike Hunter is an active president for Cantabs, while Garry O’Shea coordinates the junior section of the club, which numbers around 190 members, with the club split around 50-50 between adult and junior members, and men and women.

Last year, the women earned their first headship since 1993, and their first as an eight, and they showed their ability by holding their position.

“The women’s squad has come on leaps and bounds and that’s really been down to Ellie Darlington, the women’s and club captain,” said Johnson.

“She has done a super job, helped enormously by Tom [Copeland]. They have come on leaps and bounds in the last four years since Ellie’s been involved.”

Cantabs have enjoyed a large number of wins at major regattas, but victory in the Town Bumps is particularly sweet.

“I think it’s a very good way of judging how a club is doing – obviously a club in Cambridge will be defined largely by its performance in the bumps,” said Johnson.

“Some people will say there are a lot more serious and important races to be rowed; Henley and other such events.

“We are represented at those events as well. They are important events, but in fact how you are judged in Cambridge is very much down to what you achieve in the bumps – you can’t escape from that, I don’t think.”

Isle of Ely won the John Jenner Trophy for the most successful club overall, in terms of the average number of places gained per crew.

Cantabs men’s crew: Cox Sara Russo, Angus Knights, Guy Fiddian, Tom Wordsworth, Andrew Marsden, Ricardo Hererros-Symons, Finn Grimwood, Harvey Dinkele, James O’Dell.

Cantabs women’s crew: Cox Esther Momcilovic, Andrea de Bruin, Ellie Darlington, Jessie Spivey, Eve Beere, Ann Laube, Georgia Vann, Harriet Cross, Bailee Stratton.


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