Should I really start rowing?

Rowing is by far the most popular sport in Cambridge. Besides the world-famous university crews, each college has a boat club and college crews compete throughout the year. Without a doubt rowing is one of experiences that make studying at Cambridge so special. And you don’t need to be a superb athlete! Few students have rowed or coxed before coming to Cambridge, but most give it a go at some point during their time here, and many of them become completely hooked!

What are The Bumps?

The Bumps Races are the highlight of the college rowing calendar with more than 1500 rowers and coxes competing over four days.  The Bumps are a historic form of racing – and a fantastically exciting one! Divisions of 17 crews line up along the river. At the firing of a cannon, all hell breaks loose as each crew tries to crash into the boat ahead before the crew behind does the same to them!

When do you guys go training?

There are no set days for training yet, but outings are usually in the early morning, ie. around 7:00 to 7:30am. We sometimes also do a lunchtime outing on the weekend. The number of outings depends on the boat you’re in. Lower boats usually go out two times a week, the first boat usually goes out 3-4 times a week.

How much commitment does it require?

Rowing is definitely one of the greatest experiences you can have in Cambridge. Once you will get better at it, there’s really nothing quite like racing down the river with 8 people exactly in sync. But it takes some time and commitment: Outings on the river are usually twice a week for beginners and typically last till 8:40am but can be accommodated to people who need to be at lectures at 9am sharp. In addition to outings you’re encouraged to come to at least one exercise session per week. It’s also very important to understand that a boat cannot go out unless all 8 people show up. If you’re scheduled for an outing then you have to either cancel in advance or be there on time. Otherwise 7 people will stand around at the river waiting for you, and this is no fun task on a cold December morning.

Can I start all-year round?

People usually start rowing at the beginning of October or November, so it may be a little difficult to fit you into the training schedule if you join much later, but we’ll see what we can do! We’ll try to give you a coached land training session soon, but it’s up to the captains of the Second Boat or Third Boat to select their crews and it may take a while until they find a chance to fit you into their training schedule. It should also be stressed that we’re not selecting purely on a first-com-first-serve basis, but instead we pick who we think will make the boat go fastest. So if you’re a sporty person and really keen, then you still have a good chance to make the team!

What about kit?

No need to worry about that yet. We’ll do a kit order sometime later in the term when everyone’s settled in. Until then, just bring normal sports clothes to the outings, ie. stuff you would wear when you’re going for a jog. Do bring an old warm jumper as well or a fleece or so, it can be a bit cold in the mornings.

Can I lock up my stuff at the boathouse?

We always take a “goodie bag” on board with us and you can put your phone, wallet, watch, etc. in there. However, we don’t recommend bringing laptops and the like, say, when you’re coming straight from work. You definitely can’t take them on board and it’s not very safe to leave them at the boathouse. The boathouse doors will be locked during the outing, but many people have access to the boathouse key.

Where is the Darwin Gym?

Our gym is on the college main site. Go through the main entrance, turn left and walk down the long corridor, past the Porter’s Lodge, past the Old Library, past the TV room, and then turn left again at the end of the corridor. You can only access it with your University Card. You will need to activate your card at the Porter’s Lodge.


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