An interview with Charlie Cullen, President Cambridge University Lightweight Boat Club and SCBC



Our very own Charlie Cullen will be leading the Cambridge Lightweights in this Sundays Henley Boatraces.GO CHARLIE!

See our exclusive interview:

SCBC: How did you get into rowing?
Charlie: I started rowing at school in Norwich, when I was about 15 and just did more and more every year.
SCBC:  Do you have any nicknames?
Monty Wetwipe
SCBC: What has been your best moment at SCBC?
Charlie: May Bumps, of course, has to be the highlight of anyone’s rowing year. Staying away from Robinson in my first year with overlap for about a kilometre was a really strong memory.
SCBC: What was the greatest challenge as lightweight president?
Charlie: I think the hardest part of being President has been trying to set an example when you really want to take your foot off the gas. All in all it’s been incredibly rewarding and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
SCBC: What’s been your best moment with the Lightweights?
Charlie: Every year just before the race we row our boat from Ely to Cambridge through the locks. It’s quite an exciting trip and a great tradition – it really brings the season to a fitting end.



Rowing after Selwyn: SCBC at Poplar

After moving to London former Boat Club Captain Dave Barton is back in the boat and racing with fellow SCBC friends Christ Cottingham and Ben Gliniecki at Poplar. Here is his report:
It might come as a surprise to some but at Selwyn I really enjoyed rowing. It can be quite hard to let go after four bliss(-ter)ful years of ergs and early get ups. But once a boatie…always a boatie they say. Having moved back to London I realised it was probably time to put the spectacles to one side, get off my lazy arse and start rowing again. You know, just to show everyone how really really good I was.
I got in touch with Ben and Chris who had both been rowing for a year at Poplar Blackwell and District Rowing Club. So far my time at the club has been fantastic. There’s a great mix of young and old, and a range of abilities from recent learn-2-row graduates to ex-world champions! We row on the stretch of the Thames from London Dock (just East of Tower Bridge) to the Thames barrier. Its a beautiful stretch to row on and while conditions can often be harsher than what the Cam offers, it’s great to train on and just makes the “millpond” days even better.
We’re currently rowing with the Men’s IM3 Squad with the goal of racing an VIII in HORR. We’ve already picked up a pot (see below) and are aiming for top 200 in March. I think this would be a great achievement given the majority of the boat have only been rowing for just over a year. After that the focus of the squad is going to be sculling in small boats for the summer regattas.
The club’s facilities are great – lots and lots of club singles/doubles (as the majority of people focus on sculling) to use – a fully equipped gym, a rowing tank and a clubhouse bar upstairs (often showing sports matches on the projector).
With lots of regattas coming up soon it would be great to have even more ex-Selwynites down. We row on Saturday and Sunday mornings and weekday training is Tuesday and Thursday (both Men and Women’s squads) evenings.
Do get in touch if you are interested!

All change! SCBC 1st VIII colours revamped, returning to tradition

Boat Club colours are a source of great pride- members of 1st VIIIs can wear them to show both their achievements and their sense of belonging with the other members of their crews. There is a sense of sharing a connection through time when these traditions are passed down year by year, and the sight of a Mays or Lents 1st VIII bow tie, or a Mays blazer, at alumni events manifests that sense of a community held together by their passion for this mad sport. Below, we see both the 1949 Boat Club and the 1977 Lents crew posing with two things in common: (1) the smiles that people wear when they have bonded as a crew by waking up horrendously early several times a week and propelling a heavy boat down a river using every muscle in their bodies, for fun, and (2) boat club wraps: woollen scarves in maroon for Lents 1st VIIIs and gold for Mays 1st VIIIs.

Selwyn College Boat Club, 1949
The 1977 Lent Bumps crew

These boat club wraps seemed to disappear at some point in time, the tradition dissipating- we’re not quite sure when, but suddenly they weren’t around any more. Bow ties were still awarded to the men who rowed in M1, with silk in different patterns for Lents and Mays. The women of W1 were now awarded their 1st VIII colours in the form of silk garters in the SCBC colours.

That is, until 2015. The women of SCBC decided that it was time for a change- not to something new, but to something old. We wanted something more visible and, quite frankly, less sexist, something which would honour the athletic achievements of women in the 1st VIII equally with their male peers. Ryder & Amies informed us that they still had the design for the SCBC wraps in their records and would be delighted to start producing them again. We told them we would be similarly delighted if they did so. And so the wraps are back, for good this time.


Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.53.44.png
Lent Bumps Women’s 1st VIII, 2016

We’re happy to inform any women or men who are eligible for Lents or Mays 1st VIII colours (including those who have now left Selwyn) that they can buy the wraps from Ryder & Amies directly, or can contact the boat club to be included in the next order.


Selwyn does the Getting-On Race

SCBC Captain Teresa Baron was on the sidelines all afternoon today to watch Selwyn W2, M2 and M3 row the Lent Bumps Getting-On Race- not, unfortunately, due to her overwhelming commitment to the boat club, but because she was drafted by CUCBC to umpire every division as finish timer. This means, though, that she got to watch each crew row past to marshal and then power up the reach to the finish line. It also meant she could snap a few pictures, between recording race times! Here’s what she thought…

M2 was the first Selwyn crew racing today, in Div 1 of the GoR. They rowed confidently downstream to the start line under a bright blue sky, taking a practice rolling start halfway up the reach. I watched them disappear round Ditton, and didn’t see them again for nearly an hour as crew after crew rowed down the reach. In the meantime the wind picked up- a strong 25mph headwind. When Selwyn reappeared they were taking this in their stride, maintaining a strong rhythm as they powered up the middle of the river. Spurred on by the sight of the finish line, cox Will McDermott (subbing in for the race) called for extra power on the drive and the crew visibly sped up, emptying the tank for the last 100m. Perhaps a little messy as they came over the line, but a solid performance from M2. IMG_2922IMG_2925W2 were next, and they rowed downstream with clear determination on their faces. Like M2, they vanished behind Ditton and I was left to wait for them to reappear a little later with the rest of the racing crews. When they did appear, they were valiantly battling against the brutal headwind on the reach, and had Tit Hall hot on their tails. They managed to keep their distance all the way up the reach, motivated by fresher Kenneth McHardy in the cox’s seat, who called for a power 10 just in time to widen the gap just as they flew over the finish line. IMG_2927IMG_2929

M3 raced the Getting-On Race for time only, having been unlucky with a combination of yellow flags and injuries which prevented them from having the 12 outings required by CUCBC to be eligible for Bumps. That didn’t stop them putting in everything they had, though! They may not have been technically perfect (they at least managed to stay mostly together, unlike some lower boats from other crews who quite frankly resembled millipedes, with blades doing mexican waves above the water) but they gave a gutsy performance. A gust of wind hit them halfway up the reach, threatening to send them into the bank, but cox-on-loan Aleka Gürel (our W1 cox) expertly steered them out of harms way and across the finish line. IMG_2934IMG_2937

Great performances from the Selwyn Lower Boats today despite unpleasant racing conditions- we’ll keep you posted on the results!



We introduce and interview our athletes who will lead and present our College on the water in Lent bumps (Feb 23-26). Selwyn athletes not only perform on the water, but are also great students and researchers.

SCBC: “Why did you decide to start rowing?”

Nigel “Two of my cousins had previously rowed when they were both at Cambridge. One at Sidney Sussex and the other at Downing. They had always told me that it was great fun. After watching the detailed coverage of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I was hooked. I signed up.”

SCBC: “What’s your work and research about?”

Nigel: “ I am working for the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS devices) for use in space satellites. Specifically and simplistically, I am developing a tiny (micro-scale) ohmic (metal-to-metal) contact MEMS switch that will replace older and bulkier electromagnetic relays that are currently in use. Employing traditional lithography fabrication techniques along with more novel approaches, such as inkjet printing and shape memory alloys (SMAs), as well as new materials and composites, such as diamond-like-carbon (DLC) and carbon nanotubes (CNTs), a reliable device may be realised.”

SCBC: “Thank you. We wish you and your crew a fab lead up to Lents in two weeks!”

Photo credits: Aleka Gürel

WOMEN OF SCBC: Eleanor Salter (SE 2015)


We introduce and interview our athletes who will lead and present our College on the water in Lent bumps (Feb 23-26). Following portraits of Selwyn women to mark 40 years of co-education, here the SCBC version: Eleanor Salter

SCBC: “What’s your favorite rowing memory?”

Eleanor: “When we were rowing in Emma Sprints, it was our first proper race as a novice crew, and our cox, Maria, repeatedly shouted, “We’re gaining! We’re gaining!” to try and make sure that we would keep going, despite the fact that we were emphatically not gaining. It was just very funny, and she said it way too many times for it to be real. It was a ridiculous race.”

SCBC: “We wish you and your squad all the best in the run up to Lent bumps!”

Photo credits: Aleka Gurel

From SCBC to Tromso, Norway

An interview with SCBC alumnus Nick Tyler.


SCBC: You are an SCBC alum. When did you row? What did you win and what is your happiest memory from the boat club?

NT: I went to the fresher’s cocktail party … and never looked back.

SCBC was undermanned.  There were a few star oarsmen – Charlie Laurie rowed for Goldie and Mike Wells was a blue – but talent was a molecular monolayer (a phrase I learned in Part II Biochemistry).  So, I, a complete novice, ended up in the 1st Lent VIII.  Amazingly, I was selected for the 1st May VIII and, no less amazingly, we went up two places (bumped Clare I and Emmanuel I and got within a whisker of Jesus I, too). 

In my second year I was Secretary of SCBC.  Rowed in the 1st VIII in the Lents – grim – and in the 2nd VIII in the Mays – excellent!  We were as fast as the 1st VIII or, if we weren’t, there wasn’t much in it.  They had a wretched time; we went up a division and made five bumps. First oar.  Nice. I was Vice-captain SCBC in my third year.  We were 3rd fastest in the Fairbairns and won our oars in the Lents (bumped Downing I, 1st & 3rd I, Caius I and Clare I).  Second oar.  Nice.  The May VIII was the best I ever rowed in.  We made one bump and ended fifth on the River.  Very nice.

SCBC: Ice rowing is becoming more and more popular (link). Are you an active rower still? How do you stay in shape these days?

NT: I’ve hardly rowed since – though I have sculling boat here in Tromsø where I live – but those days were simply glorious.  Memories and friends for life. 

I stay in shape by drinking gin and tonic: haven’t had a single bout of malaria to date.  (Oh, summer fieldwork in Svalbard helps, too: we do a LOT of walking.)

SCBC: Can you tell us a bit about your work as a reindeer scientist?

NT: In my third year – now in Part II Biochem. – I met Andrew Laurie who was at Selwyn writing up his work on greater one horned rhinoceros in Nepal.  I was captivated.  Mammal ecology for me – and, having no relevant training at all, I was too ignorant to realise what impossible odds I faced in making a career in this field.

Incredibly, I found a project (population ecology of Svalbard reindeer) and money to support both it and me.  Even more luckily, I found a supervisor at Cambridge (Professor Peter Jewell) and so, having graduated in 1977, by 1979 I was back at Selwyn. 

Population ecology is NOT a topic for a PhD (unless you do invertebrates or small mammals and hardly even then) but no one seemed unduly worried as I kept on shuttling between Cambridge and Svalbard (except my parents, but they said little, bless them).  In 1985 I got a post at the University of Tromsø, wrote the last two chapters of my thesis here … and have been here ever since.  I love my work as I loved SCBC: quite different, both of them, but each is infinitely rewarding.

The 1977 Lent Bumps crew with Nick (went up four places)

SCBC: How do you go from Selwyn to Tromso, Norway?

NT: Bicycle to Drummer St., bus to Heathrow and aeroplane the rest of the way.

SCBC: In your picture you are wearing a “1st May wrap”. What is this and would you like SCBC to reintroduce it?

NT: Wraps are big scarfs made of single-ply wool.  You’ll have seen them around the necks of blues.  Those persons who are awarded SCBC 1st VIII colours are entitled to wear a wrap: maroon for 1st Lent and Old Gold for 1st May colours, respectively.  Mine are treasured possessions.  A chum of mine had his car stolen: he didn’t care a fig for the car but he was bitterly disappointed to lose his wrap.  Some things insurance companies cannot make good.

SCBC: Finally, can you confirm that Rudolph and everyone is well at the Northpole? Are Christmas preparations well on their way?

NT: Well, the population of reindeer I study is now about 70% bigger than it’s average size when I started 37 years ago so, in a sense, they are doing fine.  In fact, that’s quite impressive because so many of the climate change enthusiasts predicted that winter warming would bring reindeer populations to their knees.  Hasn’t happened yet …


Well done SCBC Alumns at Fairbairns!


Race Report, Fairbairns Cup, Alumni VIII.

A.P. Custard, sometime guest editor of Kiwi, sent us this report


“All eight sitting ready, this is it guys, we’re going to do it…”

In the crisp blue sky and golden sunshine of a Cambridge winter morning, the grizzled (sorry Penny & Clare) veterans of Selwyn’s Alumni VIII wound it to 30 once more, in aid of the Boat House appeal.

Form and fitness found for the Boston Marathon and honed over three outings since, they would now be tested not just against the ravages of time and un-reliability of memory but other invitational and, most worryingly, current college crews. A rolling start from Jesus flagpole may not provoke in Boaties of any age the pavlovian, pulse-quickening reaction of hearing the Bumps’ one minute canon, but, by then, the realisation had dawned on even the most gung-ho of them that 4300m was quite a long way and might be quite hard work…

Any hope they would be an endearing novelty was not to be; there is already a growing body of other alumni crews: Black Prince (First & Third), Lord Protector (Sidney Sussex), Cross Keys (Peterhouse), Crustaceans (Christ’s), to name a few –they were a lone mixed crew in a sea (well, river) of MAMILs and EMILs (elderly men in lycra)…


Unsparingly coxed by current SCBC overall captain, Teresa Baron, who steered a fine racing line, the stern pair of youth and experience in Robin Hellen and Huw Champion, middle four of Alex Goold, Hugh Wood, Richard Ingram and immediate past SCBC captain, Nick Jones, in the ejector seat, and the bow pair of Clare Heppenstall and Penelope Jarrett, had what can only be described as a very solid, very gutsy and very committed race, from start to finish. Ably supported by the all ginger bank party of John Pritchard and Jeremy Broadis, they powered 10 for Selwyn before winding again at the P&E, powered 10 at the Railway Bridge to “seriously gun it” along the Reach, before winding again at the Plough, giving it one more power 10 for First Post Corner and leaving it all out on the water by the Motorway Bridge –luckily, they also kept going for the finish at the Little Bridge!

15th out of 16 invitational crews tells only part of the story. With a time of 17 mins 44 (avg 2.03.7) and a very strong field, (fastest men’s VIII 13 mins 49, slowest women’s VIII at 19 mins 46), they can feel justifiably proud even to be mixing it in such elite company.

“A massive well done, you really kept it together; that was so impressive…”

I’m betting they’ll be back next year.

Here is our heroes’ crew list:

Teresa Baron (current Overall Captain)
Alexander Goold  (SE 1989)
Huw Champion (SE 1966)
Robin Hellen (SE 2003)
Nick Jones
(SE 2015 tbc)
Clare Heppenstall
(SE 1984)
Penelope Jarrett
(SE 1980)
Hugh Wood (SE 1988)
Richard Ingram (SE 1988)
John Pritchard (SE 1988)
Jeremy Broadis (SE 1988) all photo credits to you! THANKS!

SCBC do yoga

New to SCBC this term: Yoga For Rowers!

Timarie Chan has led us in four beginners sessions of yoga focusing on areas most beneficial for rowers, having worked with CUBC in the past and now with us and a couple of other college boat clubs. In the last few weeks, we’ve been working on flexibility in the legs and back and stability in the core, and we’re already starting to see the difference in the boat- a little more flexibility in the rock-over, a little more control around the catch (and while holding your entire body up on your hands isn’t essential for rowing, it’s a great party trick.)

It’s been a great opportunity for our men and women to have time training together, and we’ve also been joined by some non-boaties from around college. After the success of this term, we intend to make yoga a permanent weekly fixture next year.


Selwyn W1 do Uni IVs


From left to right: Maria, Amy, Aleka, Teresa, Jenny

This term, the Selwyn women’s senior squad are doing everything in IVs- working in IVs has been fantastic for our technique and our responsibility in the boat (you can’t slack off if there’s only 3 other people pushing!) Our first race of term was University IVs, and it was certainly an interesting one. While we’d done plenty of practice pieces, we hadn’t yet done a complete bridge-to-bridge piece before the race, and only realised the day before the race that we hadn’t done any starts. We quickly put one together and practiced on the way up for marshalling, and showed it off in front of our competition as we rowed up to Baitsbite Lock. Our first race was against Queens; it started somewhat unexpectedly (no one had told the umpire he should count down before the whistle) and we managed to quickly widen the gap between us and Queens W1, heading into a power 10 straight out of the start sequence. We lost Queens at First Post Corner and held our distance out, only catching sight of them again when we were half-way down the reach; they started to gain on us a little out on the straight stretch of water but not enough, and we held them off all the way down to the finish post.

Through to the semi-finals, our next race a couple of days later was against Emmanuel W1. Our starting positions were reversed from the previous race, so we were chasing Emma (we had been chased by Queens in the first race). We had an excellent row up to the lock to marshal, including ‘the best start we’ve ever done’ according to our stroke, and got into position to begin the race- unfortunately another unexpected start caught us mid-adjustment, but we managed to recover fairly well and get the boat moving, launching into a power 10 under the motorway bridge. We had a consistent and gutsy race but Emma were the faster crew and beat us solidly- sad for us, but good practice for our next race.

Our next race is Winter Head on Saturday 14th November, along with W2- wish us luck!