Novice FAQs

Not sure whether to have a go at rowing, or unsure what to expect? Hopefully this page can help.

The only thing I know about rowing is from watching the Boat Race on television! Will I be able to pick it up from scratch?

Yes! The majority of the senior squad learned to row/cox at Downing. Novicing is a great experience.

We have plenty of student and alumni coaches, as well as having Ian Watson, a world silver medallist, as our Boatman – so you won’t ever be short of guidance! Our January training camp in Banyoles/Cambridge is also a brilliant way for novices to improve. More information about what to expect from learning to row/cox in Michaelmas at DCBC can be found at here. Specific Information about learning to coxing can be found here.

I have previous rowing experience, does that make me a novice or could I be a senior?

Get in touch with either Aidan Joyce ( or Imogen Shaw (, this year’s Men’s and Women’s Captains, for more information on the senior squad. They will help you to decide which would be the best match for you. There are usually a couple of people each year who join the senior squad straight away.

I’ve never been a sporty person but I really want to give rowing a go. I just don’t think I’ll be very good at it…

Every year a mix of people join DCBC. While some are already sporty, others are looking to try something totally new. The great thing about rowing is that, with so many different aspects to it, most people will have a knack for some part of it – be it power, technique or fitness.  A lot of people find themselves totally hooked on the team atmosphere, getting fit, and the being outdoors and away from the books. If you don’t think you’re cut out for rowing but still want to get involved – why not try coxing?

I’ve heard about DCBC and i’m interested in giving rowing a go – where can I find DCBC during freshers week?

We would love to meet you! We will be at the college freshers fair and will also be holding our own fresher events (more information to follow).

In the meantime, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with what’s going on.

I’m really interested in rowing but don’t want to spend every day training – is there a crew for me?

Yes! we field many different crews, all with different levels of commitment so you can do as much or as little as you want.

Everyone talks about rowing, but what about coxing? What does being a cox involve?

Coxes steer the boat (no small feat – it’s the length of a double decker bus) and provide technical calls and motivation. On the water, you are very much the leader. The coach and crew rely on you to communicate and to keep them safe. When learning to cox, the most important thing is to be enthusiastic, confident and earn the trust of your crew. Don’t worry if you don’t feel you have all these skills yet – you’ll pick them up very quickly! To find out more, click here.

Do you really have to row at 6am in winter?

Whilst it’s true that most crews have morning outings, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever have to be on the water at 6am, the earliest it’ll ever get in Michaelmas is 7am. If there is a choice between a morning and afternoon, we’ll always let you have the lie-in!

The busy nature of Cambridge life means the time when nine people are most likely to be free is in the morning. At the weekends we can’t row until after 11am, and during Easter term, almost all rowing is in the afternoon or evening as it is light for longer, so there’s plenty of opportunity for sleep.

How much does it cost to row?

Your first term is completely free, and after that it is £15 per term, which goes onto your college bill. This includes use of all our facilities and coaching.

What kind of kit do I need?

You don’t have to have Lycra, and most novice crews don’t for the first term or so. It is, however more comfortable and practical to row in. There will be the opportunity to buy DCBC rowing kit towards the end of Michaelmas, this is completely optional but is the best thing to row in and a good investment if you plan on rowing throughout your time at Cambridge!

Initially you should try wear reasonably tight fitting clothing that won’t interfere with your rowing. emphasis should also be put on wearing enough layers to keep warm (you can always take them off it you get too hot during the rowing) and always bringing water with you!

Not answered your question?

Get in touch! We’ll always be happy to help. Just drop an email to this year’s Lower Boats’ Captains – Alex G, Alex P, Emma and Joel  – at

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