M1 going to Bottisham Lock
Both M1 and W1 rowed to Bottisham Lock, as a last hurrah before the November lockdown came into force. Here’s M1 making the most of the occasion!

Lent BCD online
A screenshot of the attendees at our online Lent Boat Club Dinner! The social secs did a great job of keeping everyone connected during lockdown.

Michaelmas 2020 saw us return to the water for the first time in six months, with both our seniors and incoming novices keen to start training. On the women’s side, we fielded W1 and W2 VIIIs and a W3 IV, whilst the men’s side fielded two M1 IVs and an M2 VIII. We also had a total of 65 novice rowers sign-up!

The progress made by all boats over the first few weeks was impressive but, before we had the opportunity to race, the November lockdown came into force. Online zoom circuits returned after their popularity over the summer, which helped keep the squad motivated and were attended en masse by senior and novice rowers alike.

Once the lockdown was lifted, the men’s side quickly put together a first VIII to enter Christmas Head before the holidays, coming 1st among college senior VIIIs and 2nd overall. The women’s side had two senior VIIIs racing, with W1 placing 2nd and W2 placing just 7s behind another W1 crew.

The third lockdown, which meant another remote term for our rowers, came as a bit of a shock to the club; our hopes of a strong Lent Bumps campaign were crushed. Nevertheless, we kept on training and Strava became the club’s go-to social media platform! We held online socials, and used Zoom backgrounds to help recreate the atmosphere of past Lent BCDs.

Following the cancellation of May Bumps, the squad trained hard for the replacement “June Eight’s Regatta (JER)” in Easter Term. The men’s side came back strong in Easter Term, with two senior VIIIs and two novice VIIIs. Both senior boats performed well in several races, finishing top five in their respective divisions. The novice crews managed outings twice a week, and also performed well against other novice crews in various races. The women’s side had two senior VIIIs and three novice VIIIs regularly training. There were impressive race results from both senior boats; W2 defeated Wolfson W1 in 99’s regatta, and won their division in Champs Eights Head. W1 did not drop below a 2nd place finish in any of the on-Cam races prior to the JER, including 1st place in Spring Head to Head and 1st in their category in City Sprints. The women’s novice boats were also out training 2-3 times a week, with NW1 competing in the Radegund Mile race in May.


W1 at Marlow
Our W1 crew at Marlow Regatta in June. This was the first time that most of the girls had raced off-Cam!

In June, W1 entered the Marlow Regatta. Most of the crew had never raced off-Cam before, so they had a brilliant day at Dorney Lake. It was the first time that Marlow Regatta had held races for women, and when the crew found out that their category included some of the top crews in the country, they were simply hoping not to come last - especially as the only Cambridge college in attendance! However, after a great row in the time trial, overtaking University College Oxford, W1 qualified for the C final. The adrenaline from racing six other crews side-by-side powered them on to beat two more crews who qualified faster in the time trial, giving them a fantastic 3rd place finish.


The JER began the next day, a side-by-side tournament which replaced the traditional May Bumps. The first day consisted of a time trial to seed the boats into divisions for the following four days of racing. Although we intended to enter all nine boats in the regatta, several of our lower crews had to scratch due to self-isolation, and we were only able to enter M1, W1, M2, W2 and NW1.


M1 at JER
M1 in action at the JER.

M2 at JER
M2 working hard down the Reach.
In the time trial, M1 came joint sixth with Downing M1 in the first division and M2 finished joint first with Pembroke M2 in the second division. On day one M1 had a rough start and were unable to claw back the lead from Hughes Hall, eventually losing by a length. M2 won their race against Clare Hall by 3½ lengths. On days two and three, M1 won against Christ’s and Sidney Sussex. Similarly, M2 won a fantastic race against Downing, but unfortunately one of their rowers was then contract traced and they had to find a sub for the third day. After a tough race against Lady Margaret M2 they suffered their first loss. For the final day, M1 had possibly their best row. After initially pulling in front by a canvas against Lady Margaret which they held for most of the race, they were beaten by just over a length. Up against one of the fastest crews on the river, M1 were exceptionally happy with their performance, even though the outcome was not quite what they wanted. Sadly, for M2 the bad luck continued with a seat coming off at the start of their race against Darwin M1, culminating in a loss by just over half a length.


W1 approaching the finish of the Getting on Race (GOR).

Tired legs in the W1 boat meant the results of the time trial gave them a tough draw. Nevertheless, they produced a comfortable win on the first day against Newnham (the current May’s headship). On the following day, they lost to Caius, who were the eventual winners of the division. This was matched on the final two days, with a win and a loss to Lady Margaret and Pembroke respectively (at which point the crew had raced 7 races in 6 days!). W2 had a lot of success in the JER. The crew were the 4th fastest W2 in the time trial, and showed their speed by easy wins over Clare Hall W1 and First and Third W1. On the third day they had an extremely exciting race against Emmanuel W2, which they won in the final 5 strokes by a canvas. Unfortunately, they finished with a loss to Caius W2 in the final. NW1 were seeded into the NW2 division, and came away with 2 wins and 2 losses, a solid result for a hastily put-together crew.

W2 at JER
W2 rowing home after a successful race.
NW1 at JER
NW1 looking forward to their first taste of Mays racing.


W1 at Henley
The W1 crew racing past Temple Island in their heat against Bath University after a great race in the qualifiers.
The season ended with Henley Women’s Regatta for W1. Unfortunately, one of the rowers was contact-traced just beforehand, but with a ‘super sub’ from W2, they were ready to race. W1 placed 10th in the time trial (from which the top 16 crews qualify), which was a result they were especially thrilled with, given that Queens’ had not qualified for HWR since 2007. Following this, they were placed against the University of Bath in the heats, and despite holding the crew at half a length for the first half of the course, their competitors came away with the win. It was a great way to finish a successful season!


In other news, the club has purchased a brand new Filippi VIII to serve as the new men’s 1st boat, and we have sold the older Hudson shell to Auriol Kensington RC. The new boat will retain the name Marcus Hughes-Hallett, in memoriam. Everyone at QCBC has been eager to get back on the water, and both the men’s and women’s sides have recently been enjoying pre-season outings. The ‘Boatie Squash’ held in freshers’ week was particularly popular, with a record 120 novices signing up for tubbing sessions! This term, we are especially looking forwards to holding (a slightly adapted version of) QErgs on7th November, after COVID restrictions meant that the annual event could not be held last year. We are also in the process of inviting recent alumni, who lost time on the water during their final year, back for the Fairbairn’s races at the end of term. To keep up-to-date with QCBC, follow us on Instagram @queensboatclub and like us on Facebook @QueensCollegeBoatClub!


Written by: James Bayliss (President, 2020-2021), Freddie Markanday (Men’s Captain, 2020-2021) and Carly Gilson (Women’s Captain, 2020-2021)

Edited by: Hannah Badger (President, 2021-2022) and Abi Smith (Alumni Officer, 2021-2022)