Hello, I’m William, and I will be DCBC’s Captain of Boats for the coming academic year.
I started rowing once I started my PhD here at Downing in October 2021, having never touched an oar before. I studied at the University of Nottingham for my undergraduate, reading Natural Sciences and then did a Master’s Degree in Climate Science at the University of Exeter. Both of these universities had rowing clubs, reasonably good ones too I’m told, but such a small percentage of the student body did it that you could go through your whole undergraduate degree without ever having the good fortune to meet a rower. Back then my sport of choice was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grappling-based, sport martial art most well known for its prevalence in MMA. I had done that from the age of about 14 and competed at inter-university-level competitions while studying at Nottingham.
When I came to Cambridge to study my PhD in Climate Science I was disappointed to find there was no BJJ club, so I was in need of a new sport. Here, unlike my previous universities, you couldn’t move for rowers. Both my college parents were keen rowers, one of whom was Rian Howe, the Men’s Captain of that year, and it seemed like the done thing to at least give it a go. And given I am 6’6” I think most of the rowers were quite keen for me to try too. I immediately really enjoyed it; being out on the water was great and the novice-senior swap sold me on the social side. I became a nuisance for the LBCs as my feet were too big for all but one pair of shoes, so these had to be moved every time I moved. After novice term I was straight back into it with the January training camp, where my fragile, not-yet-rowers hands ended up being about 50% blister from mostly rowing with first-boat rowers. In Lent I was put into 4 seat of M2, and had a good first term of senior rowing. After 3 hard row overs we ended the term with my first ever bump on Queens’ M2.
Outside of rowing, Cambridge has been great both academically and on social issues. As I mentioned, my PhD is in Climate Science. My interest in this subject goes beyond academia; sustainability and environmentalism are also passions of mine, and Cambridge has been a great place to explore this. I have been the MCR Green Officer for nearly my whole time here and also played a key role in Cambridge’s Plant-Based Universities campaign, a national campaign that aims to transition university catering to 100% plant based, so that they may lead by example when tackling the climate crisis. I’m also a strong advocate against normalised animal cruelty, I was raised vegetarian and have been vegan now for over 3 years. I often incorporate this into environmental campaigning as, fundamentally, it’s not the physical planet that needs saving but rather the beings that live here.
This year I have really gotten a lot out of rowing. Under Sam Lewin’s coaching M2 flourished and the crew developed a super fun and enthusiastic atmosphere, creating a really positive attitude towards regular training. Lent Bumps was our first chance to show how far we’d come, and I was given the huge responsibility of the stroke seat. Unfortunately, after rowing two of our five days, a bout of Norovirus left me bedridden for the rest of the week. Thankfully, despite the requirement for a last minute sub, the crew pulled through to achieve technical blades. May term brought with it another step up, and return for me to my rightful place in the 4 seat. We carried the momentum forward and came out of Mays as the most successful Downing crew in a number of years, achieving superblades.
Looking forward to the coming year, I hope I can extend this positive attitude towards training from the M2 crew to the entire club, and create the foundation for success for years to come. Key to this will be high novice recruitment and retention, alongside regular coaching for every crew where possible. I’m looking forward to the year kicking off in October so I can get started!