Hardy’s Boat Race Diary: Week 3

HARDY CUBASCH: “Tension levels are high. After each session small cliques form to predict what is occurring, what the coaches are thinking.”

Blues boat race cubasch cubc hardy cubasch nottingham Rowing

The month of February. It’s a time of joy or despair for the squad at CUBC.

After months of training and trialling the Blue Boat and Goldie crews are slowly taking shape. Last weeks 1st and 2nd placings at the Quentin Head in London was the last time even boats are likely to row and the past week has seen different Blue Boat combinations being boated each day.

Tension levels are high as every person believes they have the skill set, strength and fitness to warrant a place in the crew. The entire season to date has been about coming together as a squad, forming bonds with each other that help you to keep pushing your mind and body when the intensity and volume of training feels like it has become too much.


A typical morning session on the ergos. 10 minutes gone, 1 hour 20 minutes to go.

For the moment though some of these friendships are put to pasture. There are twenty athletes remaining in the squad and only nine seats in the Blue Boat. Each day a new line up is named people have to miss out and row in the reserve boat Goldie. After each session small cliques form in an attempt to predict what is occurring. The coach’s office starts to resemble a college interview room as those that were not chosen for that day’s crew want to know why and put their case forward.

This behaviour is completely natural and can be seen with every national program around the world. Every member of the squad has spent almost half their time awake in Cambridge committed to trying to achieve their dream of rowing in the Blue Boat.  The sign of a strong program is that there are more quality athletes than positions available. This is certainly the case at CUBC this year.

The President and coaching team are charged with selecting the fastest possible crew that will beat Oxford on that first Saturday in April. Over the next two weeks tough decisions will be made and unfortunately some top athletes will not be chosen. Everybody’s seat is on the line and one bad session could possibly mean the end of your run.

The President and Vice President at the moment are placed in a real predicament. They are friends with everyone in the squad but also involved in the selection process, often playing middle men between the squad and coaching staff.

The final crew that is to take on Oxford will be announced in London on Monday 8 March, although the squad itself will know a couple of weeks before this date.

At the moment we are on camp in Nottingham training at the National Water Sports Centre. More accurately I have actually just come out of the showers having realised that Joshi wanted this piece by last night. Hopefully I’m not being too distracted. Having said that, a combination of all these naked young men and reading Amy Lambert’s ‘Tab Confessional’ on the drive up has given me an idea for next week’s article.


In the showers as I was writing the article with Pete McClelland (Pembroke) & CUBC President Deaglan McKitchen (Hughes Hall).

Anyway why are we here? Largely because there is a 2 km racing course here which we are using as a testing facility. Some athletes are being interchanged but the main focus this weekend is on testing equipment. Today we spent the day racing on the course testing different blade designs and oar lengths. Tomorrow we will test two different boats designs; one by the German manufacturer Empacher, the other an Italian Fillippi.

The boats are also currently fitted with telemetry equipment. This allows for a number of variables to be measured in every seat throughout the boat including an individual rowers stroke length, wattage of output  and how they apply this workload  through their force curves. The information is just another tool that is used to evaluate how people are performing and which combinations display the most potential.

Well time to go here. The screen is misting up and most of the guys are changed and craving dinner. For the moment the mood is positive and relaxed as we have finished a long day of racing and testing. Tomorrow it all begins again.

56 days to go…

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