Clare Hall Boat Club - pull together!

9 June 2021

Dear Life Members,

With a third of the student population putting blade to water at some stage, rowing is the largest sport in Cambridge. Entrenched in the unique history of the University, it provides an unparalleled opportunity for our students to make memories and forge lifelong friendships.

The world was hit hard in 2020, and one of the (admittedly frivolous) disappointments was that we couldn’t gather with our Life Members to celebrate the Clare Hall Boat Club (CHBC)’s 25th anniversary. A milestone missed, we had hoped to pay testament to the sports men and women who came before us, who made the Club the success it is.

Even if you didn’t row yourself, you have probably sat along the riverbank and cheered for your peers during Bumps – and subsequently missed it since it has been on hiatus.
During this time of year, we wanted to bring you some rowing stories each day of the Bumps season to get you in the summer spirit, while asking for your help in getting the CHBC back on its feet.

The state of play
Clare Hall is an underdog. As an exclusively graduate college, the majority of our rowers are MPhils who join as novices, train up swiftly, give us their all, compete in Bumps, and then depart the same year, losing us talented teammates in every cycle.

This is the nature of the beast at a small graduate college, and part of what makes Clare Hall so rare. Despite this, we have been gaining momentum! Our Men’s crew won ‘Super-Blades’ (where we overbumped our competitors four days in a row) in 2018 and 2019, along with winning the Pegasus Cup at the May Bumps 2019. We peg our successes in trusting each other – we welcome novices and veterans alike, and every member is integral.

The CHBC very much looks forward to welcoming back Life Members in Michaelmas term and belatedly celebrating the 25th anniversary and the full resumption of rowing.

There is an understanding that larger and wealthier colleges who enjoy the latest streamlined equipment, professional coaches and training camps will dominate Bumps.

The CHBC competes in boats that are more than a decade old, antique by rowing standards. Yet, we don’t believe our fate is sealed – our College spirit is indomitable.  

How you can help
Clare Hall has done a lot with sheer esprit de corps; so it would be thrilling to watch what we can achieve once we even the playing field. Today I am writing to ask for your help in retiring our Men’s VIII, and support in our endeavour to purchase a newer Men’s VIII so we can compete in a lighter, faster and more attentive boat.

We don’t expect to reach the Headship…yet. By slowly modernising our resources, the Club will sow seeds, grow and leave a stronger legacy for those who follow. Who knows, next Bumps season, we might be in a position to replace our ancient Women’s VIII next!

We appreciate that not everyone can offer support financially, and would gladly welcome volunteer coaches and company sponsorship, too.

Please do click over to this webpage to give, or send an email to lifemembers@clarehall.cam.ac.uk if you’re keen to support Clare Hall’s wonderful Boat Club in other ways. On behalf of the CHBC, thank you for taking the time to read this. Every little really does help us, and we hope we can do you proud in return!

With best wishes,
Timo Haber
CHBC President, 2019-21


Photograph by Fu Xiang Quah