Hi, I’m Alex, a fourth year Classics student and I am delighted to be taking on the role of Captain of Boats for DCBC. The club has meant a great deal to me over the course of my time at Cambridge and I am very much looking forward to expanding the club’s membership this year and strengthening her positions on the river over the 2022-23 season.
My time with DCBC has had its highs and lows. I noviced in 2019 in NW1, rowing in W3 for my first senior term. One of very few W3s to get on to Lent bumps, not only in Downing’s history but also in the Lents in general, we were proud to be rowing bumps and to have a successful campaign, achieving a bump on Anglia Ruskin and rowing over the other days. I was looking forward to gunning for a higher crew and another great term with DCBC when the Coronavirus pandemic put a halt to everything. Needless to say I was bitterly disappointed.
Nonetheless, the club pulled through the first wave of the pandemic, and remained optimistic for the 2020-21 season. I became an LBC in my second year, hoping to get many novices involved in rowing. Unfortunately, after successfully recruiting many novices, the second and then third lock-downs prevented rowing from continuing for the latter half of Michaelmas term and then all of Lent term.
Easter term 2021 brought better luck and we fielded four novice crews for the June Eights Regatta which, exceptionally, replaced bumps that year, allowing novices to race. I truly enjoyed introducing new rowers to this wonderful sport and was even more delighted when three of them joined me in my crew due to their quick progress. We gelled quickly as a W2 and in the JER, where we raced our own W1 (and were beaten), we came out the fastest W2 on the river beating Pembroke W2, who rivalled us in speed, by over a length.
Last year brought with it its own challenges. In Michaelmas term I joined W1, learning what it meant to row at the highest level for DCBC. We also learned that it isn’t always guaranteed that you will find your rhythm as a crew straight away. The first few weeks of rowing together were tough, but as a crew we worked hard to iron out the issues, making small adjustments every day until finally we found our rhythm and took on Fairbairns, coming 3rd. That term taught me a lot about the dedication it takes to do well in this sport and I came out with a renewed respect for it and for my crew.
I stepped back from rowing in Lent term to take on a separate academic commitment and returned in Easter to row in W2, finding again the camaraderie and simple joy that rowing provides. It was incredible to see so many Downing crews on the river, with three women’s and three men’s VIIIs racing. Despite the tough year the club had seen, Downing brought the same fantastic energy that had so drawn me to rowing in my first year and it is that energy, competitive spirit and familial atmosphere that I hope to foster in the club for this coming season.
The energy of DCBC is, I think, what makes it so special. Everyone, from every level in the club, gets so involved in its success. DCBC is a massive family, made by love for the sport and respect for one another. It’s inspiring to see new rowers connect with the club every year and to see how the alumni come back to help out and to coach year upon year because of what this club has meant to them. With their generous help, DCBC has access to some of the best facilities and coaching available.
I am keen to expand the club this year and begin the recovery from several disrupted years to hopefully field seven VIIIs in this year’s May bumps, a feat we nearly achieved last year, though unfortunately the Downing M4 came first runner up in the getting-on race. I believe with DCBC’s competitive spirit and inexhaustible grit, we can make full use of the incredible resources provided us by our alumni and come back stronger than ever. I want to help everyone at DCBC achieve their full potential and be the support the club needs to do well at every level.
I am honoured to be the Captain of Boats this year and I can’t wait for what lies ahead.
Feroces ad mortem,