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St Catharine’s College Boat Club Update (06/11/2020) - Closed

As of 05/11/2020 the boathouse will be closed until further notice. This is due to government guidelines and confirmation from British Rowing that it is unacceptable for a shared fitness facility to be open during this second lockdown.

With Universities remaining open we want to find a way for students to stay active, so there are ergs and a bike accessible by Gostlin (you might have to fight off the librarians though). There is also an erg available for use at Chads. Please do take care of the equipment, there are rules of use by the equipment so please take note.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the students that have used the boathouse this term. Rules have been abided by therefore keeping the boathouse a safe environment to train and work in, so thank you! It is also important to note you have all contributed to creating a wonderful energetic environment, one of which I feel so grateful to work in. Spirits have been kept high and there has been much fun and laughter, which is so important in difficult and unpredictable circumstances.

I will keep you up to date with any changes that may occur over the next few weeks. A few photos are attached to show where the equipment can be found and to reminisce on outings.

Stay safe and see you on zoom ;)

- Carmen 

Aligned Blades


Gostlin Set Up

Erging Librarian

Rowing and Reading

NW1 Last Row




 In the current environment, some parts of ‘normal behaviours at SCCBC will have to be changed in order to protect members of our small community. We recognise that some of the changes may be frustrating, but it is imperative that the below guidance be followed.

 The following changes have been produced on current guidelines (as of 04/09/2020) and are subject to change depending on government, university and British rowing guidelines.

 General Guidance:

 Opt in Culture: as always we want SCCBC to be a culture in inclusivity and trust, meaning that no one should be asked to do more than they want. If you are feeling pressured to do something that you do not wish to do for any reason please contact Carmen, the Head Coach, or John and Charlie, the Captains, so we can make sure such behaviour is brought to halt.

  • The single exception to this rule is races. We recognise that some people only wish to row recreationally, and we run lower boats that go out to have fun and get some exercise. Generally, our higher boats will be working towards some big races, namely Bumps. When placed in a higher boat, we will not demand that you race, but we do ask that you tell us if you are unable to row or feel unsafe/ uncomfortable doing so, preferably with as much noticed as possible 

Booking System:

 SCCBC have been using spreadsheets to book erg timings in past years, this will continue to be the case except for there being limited equipment and strict time slots.

 We ask that rowers are rigorous in following the booking procedure and make any changes clear on the spreadsheet. This is so that we can track who has been in the boathouse at what times, which may become necessary in the event of a local breakout.

Following COVID Policy:

 These are policy changes, people are bound to slip up and make mistakes – there is small allowance for human error. However, if you see someone making such a mistake or see actions that do not align with the new policy in place please politely mention it. If you do not feel comfortable speaking out, please do reach out to Carmen and she will address the situation and pass on your observations / concerns anonymously.

Risk Assessment:

 All new and returning rowers will be asked to watch a short video and will be signed off when they have. This video will out-lines and show how to follow the COVID rules.

Off Water Training:

 Boathouse Availability – Following advice from the College and British Rowing, some changes will be in effect in the boathouse, until further guidance:

 Crew ergs will not happen (see below). We do recommend that you find an erg buddy or two in order to keep up enjoyment and motivation
 Only 4 of the 8 ergs can be used, in order to facilitate safe social distancing.

  • Ergs will be set to face the windows
  • The changing rooms are out of bounds. We ask that you arrive in the gear you will be rowing in and must take all of your belonging with you when you leave (not clothes to be left at the boathouse)
  • The toilets outside of the changing rooms will be accessible
  •  To prevent mingling and cross contaminations there will be a 15mins time gap between every session. We ask that in this time you disinfect the equipment with the wipes etc provided and leave the boathouse. (Socialising outside the boathouse, distanced on the hard is encouraged - in groups no bigger than 6 (updated as of 11/09/2020)
  • Be mindful of ventilation in the upper room. We highly encourage you to open windows when erging
  • Please do not pass other on the balcony or stairs. Wait at the bottom or top and until others have passed through and it is therefore safe


  • Circuits will be unavailable in the form they were last year
  • We will however be running zoom sessions two evenings a week. These can be done anywhere and enable a form of circuit fitness to continue in a safe manner.
  • In the case of a strict lockdown in Cambridge these will be the primary sessions for maintaining fitness. There are no expectations for you to attend, and you are fully welcome to join without video and/ or audio should you wish. These sessions are done at your own level.
  • There is a possibility of running circuits outside where social distancing can be maintained. This will be looked into as an option but highly unlikely in poor weather and winter months due to temperatures and lighting (both impacting safety)

On Water training:

 Warm ups: with only 4 ergs available warm ups will not consist of group exercise and possibly bridge runs

Moving Boats:

 The boats will be moved by 6-8 people, observing social distancing.

Washing Boats:

 All equipment must be washed before and after every outing. We recognise that this takes times and will endeavour to make time for these activities. Boats will no longer be rubbed down with towels, but Instead washed with soap and a hose on trestles.

Crews and Boats:

 We will try to prevent movement in crews as much as possible. Obviously, subs will still ne required, and the support between crews is part of what makes rowing at Catz so enjoyable. We will likely be setting crews earlier than usual. Also, we will avoid where possible the sharing of boats and/or blades.

Crew Bubbles:

 If a member of a crew tests positive for coronavirus, the rowers, cox and coach of that crew will be required to self-isolate as per college guidelines and preferably get tested.


 Each cox will be assigned a coxbox, and it must be cleaned after every outing. They will be numbered, along with the lifejackets – once you are assigned a number it is your responsibility to charge, clean and look after the equipment. You cannot share.


 We permit (and actively encourage) any sort of socialising between members of the boat club that align with College and government guidelines. More official boat club socials will be carefully looked at so as to keep everyone present as safe as possible. Obviously, socials are voluntary and you are never expected to attend (although welcomed if you are).

SCCBC COVID-19 Quaranteam

SCCBC 2020 ‘Quaranteam’

It has been an interesting time for all during the last few months: challenging physically but most of all mentally. Due to COVID-19 the academic year, and therefore rowing year, was cut terribly short. I am proud to say that the rowers of SCCBC, present and past have united together from all over to stay active, positive and supportive of each other.  

This is a brief update and also an opportunity to provide thanks to the rowers of SCCBC for their commitment to the squad and positivity they have brought to a rather disconcerting time.

Since March the only way we have been able to communicate is virtually, many have embraced this and we have had some fun with fitness challenges. These consisted of me completing a workout in the morning in a weight vest, then the rowers having the rest of the day to beat the score, of which they all did and posted some great results! One of the sessions was inspired by George Aylard sharing a social media post, which consisted of 170 squats, 70 burpees, 260 jumping jacks, 65 push ups plus a few more gruelling exercises. You can imagine how grateful we all were for the share….

As it became clear that rowing was going to become a distant memory for a while we moved onto zoom. Having three sessions a week has been a great way to stay connected, of which alums have also joined it. I’d like to give a few shout outs: one of which being to Fiona Conlon who is now a push up champion, another: Nick Palmer who has spent time on ensuring his hamstrings aren’t comparable to guitar strings and nailing his nutrition so is able to move well carrying less weight, John Hayton that has redecorated his wall with some dents practicing handstands, Rory Cockshaw who has navigated some unusual spaces to keep completing the workouts, Will Norman who has shown us all you can always do shoulder taps faster and squat lower, Izzy ‘the penguin’ Backhouse who’s entertained her housemates each weekend, GT staying connected to the Cam running by it or doing circuits on the green, Stephen Decray who became a fitness monster during the fitness challenges, Robyn Macrae who has been consistently returning from injury and many others who have continued to stay active and throughout these past 4 months!  

I am aware the coxswains have also been phenomenal at supporting each other, with input from Sid (another fantastic alum of SCCBC). It is very difficult for them to enhance their skills when not on the water but they have found a way under the leadership and enthusiasm of Charlie Lamb. I cannot wait to see these guys back on the water next year and I am grateful and the relationship they have built to continue bettering each other.

It was great to see many faces at the Virtual BCD where our new committee was announced, congratulations to all those that are going to help lead the SCCBC 2021 squad.

I hope everyone has been able to stay safe and is adjusting to the continual changes occurring to battle this pandemic. Each member of SCCBC has done a fantastic job of challenging themselves and therefore also encouraging and challenging others throughout the last few months! I am hopeful and excited to have the boathouse filled with rowers again soon(ish).


SCCBC Social Distanced Training

Lent Bumps 2020 - A post mortem

It was always going to be a challenging bumps campaign for St Catharine’s as the squad is heavily dominated with very promising novices. Both M1 and W1 were starting in strong positions going into Lents of which the crews last year earned. This did not phase any of the remaining seniors, the six 'new' rowers or any member of each crew as they all committed to having the best campaign possible.

SCCBC ready for BCD -photo credit: Jonathan McCree-Grey


 W2 Report: (-1, -1, +1, -1)

Due to Ciara and Dennis W2 did not get much water time this term, which has been difficult. This boat was predominantly novices (7 out of 9). Even with minimal water time, these girls had a fantastic attitude, both the original rowers of each day and every sub that was willing to jump in to help with outings and during bumps – thank you. Knowing they had a challenging fight on their hands they attacked hard coming off the start each day so much so that with a poorly angled push off went charging into the opposite bank on day two! However, on Day three were able to bump back Cauis, ok so it was a technical bump due to Cauis not pushing off correctly, but a bump is a bump and it was St Catharine’s first bit of foliage! Suffice it to say W2 set the tone and proudly brought some greenery back to the boathouse. I am excited to see what these girls are able achieve next term with more water time under their belts and a bit more fitness. Well done W2!


M2 Report: (0, -1, 0, +1)

These lads (inc Maya) rowed with great commitment everyday of bumps. The comradery of the crew was palpable and with an unforgettable start to Lent bumps (of which insiders know it will always been too soon to joke about) M2 performed excellently, holding their place on the river from last year. This was no easy task with some fast crews behind them piling on some dangerous bumping pressure. These lads were tough enough to pull away inches from being bumped to have a well-deserved row over on Day 3, after fighting hard with Eli only rowing arms and body due to an unexpected seat malfunction on Day 2. What better way to end a campaign with a bump, and these lads did it in style bumping Christ’s right by grassy corner! A very big well done to you all, I hope you bring the same passion into Mays!


M1 Report: (0, -1, -1, -1)

Lent term has been an interesting term for the members of M1. A lot was learnt and many changes were made. To the lads credit they did a phenomenal job at showing true guts and grit during bumps. This boat had three novices, one new rower, two returners from M1 last year and two rowers from M2 so it is fair to say the experience in this crew was low coming into bumps. I was extremely impressed with the determination of this crew when put under severe pressure; they respectably and amazingly held boats off when just inches from having to concede. The most rewarding part of bumps was the lads coming off the water being proud of their performance and being ready to fight another day, confidently knowing that long term this crew will be something to be reckoned with! They are unfortunately the only crew that didn’t bump however the performance they gave each day was something to be proud of!

W1 Report:  (-1, -1, -1, +2)

Well, what a week it was for the Women’s 1st boat! Wow! Again another young boat, in a near on brand new shell made for some teething issues but nothing the women weren’t willing to knuckle down on to improve. It would have been very easy for these girls to be passive and accept defeat when being bumped out of Division 1 on Day 3, hooooooowever (there is a Catz theme starting) they were so tough and showed so much courage to achieve two bumps on Day 4. This accomplishment meant they solidly moved back up and held a spot in Division 1.  At no point did anyone show any doubt in any other member of the crew, they knew they were a unit and when fuelled on digestives and skittles went off like a rocket and ended their week on a brilliant high! I am beyond proud of these girls and am very excited to see what they are able to achieve in Mays! 

-Carmen Failla



W1 Lent 2020 - Day 4

Three days into bumps and we were down three places and relegated to Division 2. Spirits were low and we needed something to boost morale – a second crew pasta night was called for. We arrived at the boathouse on Saturday feeling more optimistic with our full crew back and to find a wholesome card from Will (on behalf of Homerton W1) wishing us the best for a strong rowover. Little did he know…

Getting to the P&E proved an unexpected challenge, with the river level well above the bank, 40mph+ gusts and no functioning cox box. However this was no match for our crew. The backwards caps and crew plaits were back and better than ever with added Catz coloured ribbons. The wheels were finally on our blades and we had an (excessively) full bank party to support us. Things were looking up for Catz W1.

We learnt from our mistakes on Friday and this time around got a good start, immediately rewarded with one whistle on Homerton, although Kings’ also had one on us. Charlie managed to get a better line around Grassy than the surrounding boats bringing us up to two whistles and leaving Kings’ outside station. Homerton held us at two whistles all the way past the Plough and around Ditton. Watching Kings’ get caught at the top of the Reach removed any pressure from behind. But if anything this just spurred us on, as we rounded the corner and got hit by the wind on the Reach. Despite the Cam having waves akin to the Atlantic, we weren’t phased. We had experience rowing in the wind and besides, W1 is always unset anyway! Our split hit an impressive 3:30/500m but we managed to reel Homerton in to 3 whistles nonetheless. Charlie followed their line closely – a bit too closely as we followed them into the bank! Thanks to Anousa’s quick thinking it was only a glancing blow. This set us back to 2 whistles but we weren’t giving up. Some strong encouragement from Charlie got us back to overlap, before Homerton decided to give the bank another hug. This sealed the deal two thirds of the way down the Long Reach, giving us our revenge bump and first foliage of the week!

Full celebrations had to wait as we were now sandwich boat. Charlie was well prepared with many snacks while we re-marshalled under the Railway Bridge and sheltered from the wind in a blackberry bush. A run to the toilets yielded no reward as on our arrival it was announced we needed to get back into boats, resulting in a quick sprint back with full bladders.

The row back down to the lock for our second start made us realise how little we had left in reserve and gave us our new race plan: catch Girton ASAP with a place in Division 1 at stake! It was a heavy start getting sucked into the lock but we stayed strong and got one whistle soon after. We kept steadily gaining and when we reached 3 whistles Charlie called for us to empty the tank. Girton obviously had one final push in them, much to our dismay as we stayed on overlap for another painful 30 seconds, tanks empty and deep in the pain cave. However they couldn’t continue to hold us and we caught them by the headship start station, where we ourselves got bumped on the first two days.

Despite the wind the row back was joyous. Our bank party had adorned us with double shrubbery, a fact that did not go unnoticed by our M1 who let out a massive “YEAH CATZ” as they queued for their practice start. The crews of the W1 division showed great camaraderie, all cheering each other home.

This Lent bumps has been a rollercoaster for W1 – down three then up two on the last day, saving ourselves from spoons and proving we ARE a Div 1 crew.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 4

Today was the day. With a fast Magdalene behind us and a confident Kings ahead, we only had one option - fly or die. The plan was simple, to execute 3 minutes of madness and power. We hoped that Kings would be complacent having bumped us the day before, giving us the element of surprise. Rowing up to the start we were nervous but also excited. The prospect of unleashing hell for a fast bump was liberating - we knew it would all be over by grassy corner either way. As the starting gun fired, we executed our most powerful (although not most beautiful) start. Within what felt like seconds we were rowing in Kings wash and Stephen called for the kill! None of us could quite believe how well our plan seemed to be working. Carmen was blowing the whistle, and we really thought we were going to catch Kings. However, Magdalene were also catching up fast, and the situation quickly turned into a tight sandwich between us all. Despite our best efforts, we didn’t manage to catch Kings and Magdalene took the bump. Having said that, we really were 5 strokes away from catching Kings and it was a performance we were all proud of. Despite the bumps this week, we came away feeling positive. We managed to take the fight to three fast crews and went down with pride that we had given it our all.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 3

3 Minutes to push-off, the boys settled into their seats with a couple of jokes lightening the nerves. As the last checks were being done, we suddenly realised the cox box had stopped working. The time was ticking down and while scrambling to salvage for any life signs of the microphone, the second canon had gone and Carmen pushed us into the river. We knew it was going to be a tough race. The final canon blew, adrenaline kicked in and time slowed down as the Catz M1 pushed against the heavy water in unison and accelerated Lady Helena towards Trinity Hall. We rowed in a powerful rhythm to the drum of Nick’s stroke and Carmen blew the first whistle, which set our minds firmly onto Trinity Hall. While taking a wide line through grassy corner, a gust of wind almost pushed us into the bank. Yet Stephen kept his cool and held on strong, but Kings was coming closer. After getting out of grassy corner, Kings was now half a boat length away, but we were ready to fight. With lactic acid pumping through our veins and our hearts beating up to our throats, we powered down the plough reach. The intensity kept mounting and we held on through sheer willpower in this competitive brawl. Then as we rowed past the spinning zone, we had to concede the bump to Kings. But the Catz crew stood tall and proud, as we knew we had given it everything.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 2

Weird that getting bumped serves as such a good reminder of why we row, but it does. Yes, today didn't end with the result we wanted; Tit Hall were too rapid for that, giving us a nifty bump instead. I admit it was well-earned on their part, as at no point in this Bumps campaign have our Catz rowers not given each stroke everything they've got. Our start was strong and healthy from the very get-go and our determination to catch Jesus (and, in turn, bat away the approaches of the impending Tit Hall VIII) carried us through from the motorway bridge to the site of our eventual demise on the infamous Reach. Despite this perhaps unfortunate result, especially after the comfortable ending of the row-over yesterday after all the boats around us bumped out without coming within a country mile, I was reminded after all why we sacrifice so much to row: the exhilaration of such a primal chase that comes down, in the end, to do or die, to win or lose, to breaking them back or breaking your own. The thrill of Bumps, victory or not, makes it all worth it. 

W1 Lent 2020 - Day 1

W1 this year has seen a complete overhaul following a mass exodus at the end of last June. It is the first bumps for Amelia (3), Claire (4) and Izzi (5), and first bumps in the W1 boat for Fiona (B), Anousa (2) and Charlie (C). Following a successful crew pasta and pancakes (that earned Amelia the nickname of “Amelia Syruphands”), we were feeling carbed up and ready to chase down Fitz. With the free speed of our Catz colour coordinated caps (worn in reverse, of course), we held Queens’ well off the start and round the first corner, with Darwin gaining strongly on them. But unfortunately our free speed ran out, and despite our best efforts Queens’ reeled us in after the motorway bridge resulting in a bump. Despite the outcome, our morale remained high following a solid row.



W1 Lent 2020 - Day 2

After a not totally unexpected bump from Queens’ on Wednesday we were ready for a tough rowover ahead of a record breaking Darwin crew. The marshalling proved much less dull than Wednesday, with no M3 division to rerow and Darwin dunking their cox in the river for good luck. The race followed a similar pattern to the day before with a solid start. Darwin’s cox dunking evidently brought them some free speed as they then steadily advanced to catch us at almost exactly the same point as Queens’. Charlie even chose to park us in the same bush, this time accompanied by the dry heaves of Amelia Syruphands. We gave it everything and left it all on the river to try to avoid sandwich boating. This was clearly noticed by one spectator who later submitted a Rowbridge in honour of our “desperation screams”. On the row home we received many a compliment on our hats, which lifted our spirits as we prepared for the possibility of two races the next day.