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 – you won’t ever be short of guidance! Our January training camp in Banyoles and 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 Thomas Masding, () or Holly Thompson, () this year’s Men’s and Women’s Captains, for more information on the senior squad. They will help you 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. If they feel that’s not the right move, they will direct you to our LBCs for integrating you into our novice squads! Alternatively, if you have previous coxing experience, please get in contact with Ryan Chung, our coxing rep, at .

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, (not to mention escaping the library). But, if you don’t think you’re cut out for rowing and 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. We also have an Instagram, run by our LBCs, for more specific updates on our novice crews.

I’d be interested in joining the boat club, but it’s after freshers’ week. Can I still join?

Yes, of course! You can feasibly join the boat club at any time, although within the first week of term would be ideal as it makes it easier for us to get you into crews. If you are interested in joinin, please get in contact with our LBCs at and they’ll do their best to help you out!

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, (which is 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 to do 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 an afternoon, we’ll always let you have the lie-in!

The busy nature of Cambridge life means that 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. Also, during Easter term, almost all rowing is in the afternoon or the evening, as it’s light for longer. So, there’s plenty of opportunity for sleep.

How much does it cost to row?

Your novice term, (the first term for most people) is completely free. After that, it’s £15 per term, which goes onto your college bill. This includes use of all of our facilities and coaching. If you have previous rowing/coxing experience, and head straight into one of our senior squads, you are skipping the “novice” term, (as you will be classed as a senior) and so it will cost the £15 for that first term, and your subsequent terms, as said above. You also have to pay for the fees for every race you enter, with a cap of £40 per term.

What kind of kit do I need? What should I wear to row/cox? 

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 it 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 your outings) and always bringing water with you!

All you really need is usual sports kit and some extra layers for when the weather gets colder. A good pair of trainers is also good for erging or for land training. Sliders or flip flops can also be useful for slipping in and out of when getting in and out of the boat, and they’re easy to put in the bottom of the boat. Coxes will obviously move around a lot less so take plenty of layers, (including gloves) in the winter. Waterproof coats are often good idea and in the summer you’ll need sunglasses and sun cream!

What does a typical week look like for a novice? How much will I actually have to do? 

Novices usually have two outings a week and circuit training, (which is optional but highly recommended) as well as maybe a tank session, or an erg session. Some of the top novice boats may have more outings later in term. But if you’re really keen to do more, there are often opportunities to sub into other boats too, which is always a great way to improve!

I’ve heard some people went on a training camp before term started, but I didn’t. Can I still join?

Yes! We’d love to have you, and there will be lots of people in the same boat. We’ll be sure to help you feel as confident as possible on the water! We treat all of our novices with the same level of love and commitment – everyone member of the boat club is treated equally and you will all, hopefully, become part of our wonderful community.

Not answered your question?

Get in touch! We’ll always be happy to help. Just drop an email to Daisy, Ella, Imogen, and Bob, this year’s Lower Boats’ Captains, at .

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