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Luke Andrews takes new challenge in his stride to help Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club prepare for Lightweight Boat Races

Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club bow man Luke Andrews. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club bow man Luke Andrews. Picture: Keith Heppell

There was little doubt that Luke Andrews would trial for Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club.

It is a case of following in the family footsteps as the 18-year-old is treading the path of older sister Emma, one which started on the Tideway at Barn Elms.

Emma was the vice-president on the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club junior committee last year, rowing in the victorious Blondie crew three years in a row.

Luke arrived at Goldie Boathouse this summer, having rowed at St Paul’s for the past five years, and was adequately briefed by the time he walked through the door.

“I knew exactly what was going on when I got here and it was really easy to get ingrained given how involved I was already able to be with the whole club and sport,” he explains.

“Emma is in her fourth year now so has done it for three years. When they all came down to London they stayed in our house. I was pretty up to date with what was going on.

“Before I got here, it was really useful because I already had a really good idea with the way things worked from her and it meant fitting in was really simple for me.”

Andrews, who is studying engineering at Gonville & Caius, admits that the demands of the sport and academics was a daunting thought at first, but that the two balance off each other really well.

It is a notion that was supported by a study by the University of Cambridge sports department last year.

The Sport and Academic Performance Report showed those who had represented the university in their sport and achieved a Blue, half Blue or club colours from 2005 to 2016, did better in their studies compared to the undergraduate population as a whole.

“It’s really tough, the commitment is huge especially given the workload we’re expected to do as part of the degree,” said Andrews.

“It’s been surprisingly easy to get into the swing of things, especially given the helping hand from the guys that have been here a while.

“I’ve always found sport gives you a really firm structure and routine. You have to get up in the mornings, you have to train in the evenings, you’re always out of bed, you get to arrive at your lecture wide awake as you’ve been up for three hours so you are ready to get on with the work day.

“With revision and exams, it stops you lying in bed all day, it gives you motivation.

“It’s also a really nice way to vent, release the build up of stress each day from the day of work, having a couple of hours to relax, calm down and get some energy out.”

The environment at Goldie is also one which is allowing Andrews to thrive.

While traditionally the lightweight squad might be made up of around 60 to 70 per cent who have learned to row at their college, this year the split is around 50/50 to those that had competed before university.

“It’s really nice to have a bit of a range of experiences because you’ve got people who are quite new to it and are really energetic, really want to learn, it’s a passion,” he explains.

“Then you’ve got the old hands who’ve been here a while, know all the ropes and can give you help if you’re unsure what to do.”

He added: “It’s really nice having everyone [the women’s squad as well] in one place, it builds a sense of community.

“There are so many people here and it’s such a strong sense of one purpose. It really helps the motivation and drive to try to beat Oxford.”

The 37th Women’s Lightweight Boat Race will take place on the Championship Course on the Tideway for the first time on Sunday at 3pm, with the men’s 46th Lightweight Boat Race at 4pm, with Interactive Investor sponsoring the event.

Lightweight women’s Blue boat: Bow Victoria Walker (Caius), Freya Sutcliffe (Jesus), Regan Hamel (St Edmund’s), Miranda Clements (Hughes Hall), Yfke van der Heijden (Girton), Morgan Morrison (Homerton), Florence Alexander (Sidney Sussex), stroke Catherine Walker (Caius), cox Emily Insanally (Fitzwilliam).

Lightweight men’s Blue boat: Bow Luke Andrews (Gonville & Caius), Matt Edge (St Catharine’s), James Crossley (Churchill), Eytan Cortissos (Peterhouse), Daumantas Kavolis (Peterhouse), James Lee (Homerton), Ben Wood (Emmanuel), stroke Teague Smith (Girton), cox Jamie Bailey (St John’s).

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