BOAT RACE EXCLUSIVE: President Discusses Hopes And Fears

Boat Race competitor and President of the Cambridge University Boat Club STEVE DUDEK speaks exclusively to The Tab ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

american bny mellon boat race Cambridge dudek Hawks mike thorpe Oxford tideway Varsity

Steve Dudek is the President of the Cambridge University Boat Club and is part of the Light Blue crew competing in the Boat Race on April 6th.

Dudek, the third year Land Economy student at St. Edmund’s, steps up to his third Boat Race, having won one and lost one.

He looks to lead the Light Blue crew to secure their 82nd win.

In exclusive coverage for The Tab, Dudek talks about the trials and tribulations involved in the prep.

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The team is a mixed bunch of new additions and old veterans. Mike Thorpe will be making his fifth appearance in the Boat Race scene; there are a few Americans in there of my ilk; and a few from the Goldie boat last year too.

I am genuinely most impressed with the crew this year. It has felt like we all have clicked more so than previous years and this helps. Training is gruelling, absolutely gruelling and to have a crew who responds so readily to the need for change is vital.

As President, I don’t see my role as needing to be any benevolent dictator. We’re all here to do the same thing. I have a dim view of centralised power and feel that the most accomplished leaders are those that do not control their team.

Steve Dudek

We’ve been out on the river since September, putting in a minimum of 35 hours. But, that’s just pure training. It’s about much more than time on the water or in the gym. It’s the time dedicated to physio, stretching and addressing the ‘what if’ questions around the dinner table. Your life revolves around it – there are tonnes of extracurricular elements that will determine the outcome.

The Boat Race is unlike anything any rower has ever experienced or will experience. On the start-line, you realise this is pretty much the amplification of everything. Perhaps this is too much of a broad-brush thing to say but in the moment, it feels like you will never feel that alive again.

This race is different. So many rowers are used to 2km races. We’re used to a more controlled environment. Especially rowers from the States. We would never come up against conditions that we’ve been witness to in the Boat Race. Broken oars and protestors in the water don’t happen.

Wouldn't mind a repeat of this

Wouldn’t mind a repeat of this

There is no guarantee with this sort of rowing. The only thing you can expect is the unexpected. To deal with this, you have to just go into it trusting your cox – more so than you normally would. You have to trust their strategy, their steering and even their personality to come up against and defeat their opposite number.

For the race itself, it is difficult to recall. You’re zonked by the time you’re five minutes in. As for the crowds around you, there’s limited interaction. It’s just you and your crew, doing what you’ve done for the weeks and months leading up to it.

There’s one thing that a past President said to me that always sticks with me. There is no crew more deadly than one that thinks it can win. There is none more vulnerable than one that knows it will. In essence, to be great, you need to accept the reality that you might lose.

What it comes down to is faith. What we have achieved this year and the progress we have made has been unbelievable. This makes us a very powerful crew. With this in mind, it is not necessarily about what you do in the race.

The outcome has been decided in the days, weeks and months leading up to the day.

After last week’s loss, Cambridge will be looking to dominate.

Follow all the action LIVE with The Tab’s live blog from CUBC’s very own boathouse on the Tideway.

For the April 6th Boat Race after party at DNA in Clapham, get your tickets here and for more information click here.