With the new boathouse now in full operation, we interview our boatman Roland. Roland started his role in 2013. Like all Selwyn staff he is very supportive of our athletes, and his (often behind the scenes) work is an integral part of the working of our Club and boathouse.
SCBC: What made you apply to become the new boathouse manager?
Roland: I’d been running a business for twenty years and we needed a change. I’ve always been around the local rowing club, wherever I’ve been, and I had a lot of fun rowing at Fitz in the late seventies/ early eighties, oh and my wife wanted me out from under her feet.
SCBC: Your many roles and work is often behind the scenes. Could you tell us a bit about your role as boathouse manager?
Roland: There is space for near enough a hundred boats in the boathouse, I could spend all my time repairing rigger rash. I try to apportion my time fairly between the clubs, and I try to get a feel for what I can do to help the different clubs move forward, and have a thought for the lower boats, people who are new to the sport don’t know when something isn’t working right. Of course in the last year I have emptied out the workshop and store room and now replaced everything, and tried to keep a rowers eye on the new building. I don’t let myself be restricted by my job description, but there is only so much time in a day. I do try to keep coaches (and the master i/c rowing) sane, that’s certainly not in the description.
SCBC: Tell us about the new boathouse, especially your workshop? Any cool new tools?
Roland: Well there is room to put a boat, light, and ventilation, if not a lot of heat, so for most of the year it will be a good place to work on boats. We all hope the boathouse and the training room will encourage people to try rowing and become better at it, but the interesting question is how the new environment will affect the organisations, will we be stimulated or distracted?
SCBC: Are you a rower yourself? What is your Cambridge background?
Roland: I’m off to the Rhine Marathon for the seventh time in October, a fair way short of Chris Lloyd’s record, and sharp eyes might have noticed City 7 in the town bumps was a (not hugely successful) Billygoats crew. I was generally a steady rather than a spectacularly successful rower. I did row one year in the trial eights race, my being dumped immediately after was overshadowed by Richard Budgett being left out of the blue boat, but the Fitz crew (stroked by another CU reject) did get to the Saturday of Henley.
SCBC: When not fixing our boats, how do you spend your free time?
Roland: Last week we were exploring the upper reaches of the rivers of Norfolk in a canoe. My home is in Northumberland, my wife runs the cinema in Hexham. When I get back I don’t do a lot more than watch a film, see a Hexham debate and chill out.
SCBC: Why is Selwyn your favourite Club in the boathouse?
Roland: You can’t ask that! OK, it’s a love/hate thing. Generally Selwyn has the most charming people, and there’s a great feeling that getting out rowing is something to be enjoyed. I’m hoping for a change from, ‘we did the best we could under the circumstances’ to ‘we got our act together and nailed it’. Certainly the boys last term made that shift and were magnificent, but it’s one thing doing that for a crew, another to get the feeling throughout a club. Good at keeping boats clean, bad at shutting doors, you’re a conundrum, but always great fun to work with.
SCBC: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait for Michaelmas Term!