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Cantabrigian Rowing Club’s great eight named best crew in the country in British Rowing Awards

Cantabrigian Rowing Club women's eight in action at Henley Royal Regatta. Picture: Chris Radbone (54456888)
Cantabrigian Rowing Club women's eight in action at Henley Royal Regatta. Picture: Chris Radbone (54456888)

Cantabrigian Rowing Club have been recognised for an outstanding season with a prestigious national accolade at the British Rowing Awards.

The women’s eight were named Club Crew of the Year for the 2020-21 campaign at the virtual awards’ ceremony last Thursday.

It was the fastest crew that Cantabs have ever been able to put together, and that was despite the battles during the pandemic, which at times meant training from home, lockdowns, athletes stranded overseas and going down with Covid.

At the Metropolitan Regatta, they won the women’s club eights’ event for the first time, reached the A final of the women’s eights at Marlow Regatta and won the Peterborough Spring Regatta women’s club eights.

They held their Headship in the Town Bumps, breaking the course record along the way.

Cantabs reached the final of the Henley Women’s Regatta in the Aspirational 8+ and were beaten by a Tideway Scullers boat which featured full-time athletes.

The crew then pre-qualified and were selected for the new Wargrave Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, the first women’s crew from Cambridge apart from the university to do so.

“Winning the British Rowing Club Crew Award for the 2020-2021 season honours all the hard work and dedication that the crew and our coaches put in during a challenging year,” said Gloria Jansen, a member of the Cantabs crew.

“Despite a curtailed pre-racing season which limited the time we had to train on the water, our crew worked hard to translate gains made off the water and came together in an exceptional way in the spring of 2021.

“As a crew, we had fun every time we got in a boat together and made that the foundation for success. Winning races and progressing through to semi-finals and finals of some of the most competitive regattas in rowing was fantastic, but doing so with friends as teammates and the most supportive coaches was truly incredible.

“Moving forward, we will continue to feed off of the positive spirit we nurtured as a crew on and off the water, and let our experiences from last season fuel our preparations for the upcoming racing season.”

Chiara Avancini, a member of the winning Cantabs crew, said: “Being part of the Cantabrigian women’s eight has been, needless to say, an unmatched fulfilling experience. We are proud to be part of a fantastic sport that founds its basis on hard work, resilience, selflessness, and peer support.

“With no doubt each and every member of this crew truly represents these values and we are delighted that the results of our teamwork have been awarded such recognition. This crew was not only formed by competent athletes but by inspirational individuals that were able to juggle busy lives with the demands of the level of training that our sport requires.

“We hope to be of inspiration and to represent all those club athletes that through passion and sacrifices are able to deliver high quality performances.

“What this crew has achieved is not only a nine-person endeavour, but it has been possible thanks to the whole squad.

“Coaches, volunteers and all squad members have been crucial to build an environment where every athlete and every boat could reach the best of its potential.”

Rebecca Hatton added: “I’d rowed at school and in a successful Cambridge college squad (obtaining a Lent Bumps Headship) so I thought I knew what it was to go fast in a boat, but the incredible crew I raced with at Cantabs took it to a new level.

“I not only ticked off so many things on my rowing bucket list (including a HWR and HRR appearance, and national regatta wins) but we had fun every single time we got in the boat together.”

Cantabs cox Callum Mantell said: “Despite months of training apart and a lot of new faces, the crew came together very quickly in the run up to the Met regatta.

“Whilst it always felt like a quick crew on the Cam, it wasn’t until seeing the qualify results at the Met regatta and realising that we were the only club crew to qualify for the A-final, that it really sunk in just how fast we were on the national stage.

“The final of Club 8s at Henley Women’s Regatta was probably our best row of the year, and even if the result didn’t go our way, it is a race that we are still very proud of, and definitely leaves a lot of hunger for the members of the crew who are back and training hard to go all the way this year.

“The few months we had were full of great memories, including rowing over headship in the town bumps and getting front row seats to watch the second 8 finally bump City W1 on the Thursday; my highlight has to be the Wednesday evening of Henley Royal Regatta, as we ended up doing a second lap after everyone else had gotten off the water and got to paddle the historic course at sunset all by ourselves.”

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