Where do you row?

Most crews train on the Isis – the piece of the Thames from Folly Bridge down to Iffley Lock.

Our boathouse is “Long Bridges” about half way along this stretch. [Picture]

It’s about a 15-20 minute bike ride from Catz via the High St and St Aldate’s [Route Map]

When do you row?

For beginners, the preferred times are weekday afternoons and weekends (although not before 1pm on Sundays), up to 3 outings a week, each outing lasting about an hour.


What if I haven’t rowed before?

The majority of people rowing in Oxford hadn’t rowed before coming here, including many Catz Men’s and Women’s Captains of Boats.


Is it expensive?

At Catz, unlike many colleges, it is free for you to row. After your first few terms there is the option to join the St Catherine’s Rowing Society which costs £15pa (but gives you a £10 saving on the Torpids meal), but other than that it’s completely free.


What should I wear?

Something that allows full flexibility at the hips and knees (lycra shorts, tracksuit bottoms – not jeans), your top should be something not too baggy (gets caught up in your oar) or too long (gets caught up in the sliding seat). Shoes don’t matter since you don’t actually wear these in the boat.


Do I have to be big?

Not at all. It doesn’t matter who has the biggest biceps or who’s the tallest. At first it’s mostly about technique, which you will learn, and then about fitness, which you will develop. And there’s always coxing …


What does the cox do?

What a cox doesn’t do is sit there shouting “In … Out … In…”. At first you will be responsible for steering and giving commands to manoeuvre the boat. The more experienced coxes then take on additional responsibilities for coaching, tactics and generally exerting control over the whole boat. We have amps in the boats so you don’t need a loud voice, but being light helps [Photo]


Whom do you race?

Beginners, and the lower crews will mostly be racing their counterparts from other colleges. The big event in Michaelmas term is Christ Church Regatta in 7th week, a side-by-side knock-out competition only for those who have not rowed before this term. The top boats also enter outside competitions, racing against other clubs in Head Races (time trials) and Regattas (side-by-side races).


Do you have to get up at 5am?

Well, you can if you like, but the novice training sessions will usually be on weekday afternoons and at weekends.


Do I have to start this term?

Michaelmas term is definitely the best time to start since a large part of Oxford rowing is centred on training up beginners for Christ Church Regatta. For the rowing club, novices are the main focus in Michaelmas so you will receive our full attention and lots of coaching. We will probably also run beginners sessions in other terms, but the main college competitions are the bumping races for which it is difficult to qualify with only one term’s training.


Am I too late to start this term?

No. Come along to one of our meetings in 0th week in the JCR Lecture Theatre or email one of our captains. Contact details can be found on the “get in touch” page.


What are “bumping races”?

The scariest, and most exciting, form of racing. “Torpids” next term, and “Eights” the following term. Held over 4 days, the aim is to catch the boat ahead (which often literally means bumping them) and avoid being caught by the boat behind.


Do I have to be able to swim?

Yes! Although, rowing in an VIII, the chances of ending up in the water are minimal, it is a water sport so you need to be able to swim 50m in rowing kit. We’ll ask you to sign a declaration to this effect before you first get into a boat and at some point during term you’ll be required to demonstrate this in a swimming pool.


Do you row in the rain?

Yes. And snow. We don’t row if it’s foggy, really windy or if the river’s in flood. If in doubt, turn up for the scheduled outing.


What if I forget or just don’t turn up for an outing?

You don’t want to know.


Do any good rowers come to Catz?

You mean, apart from the obvious? In recent years there have been one or two others and we frequently have people who learn to row with us and then progress onto trial for the University boats.


Is it just about the rowing?

There is an active social side to rowing. The social sec organises “crew dates” with the crews of the opposite sex from other colleges. There are boatclub cocktails, barbecues and formal dinners throughout the year so its a great way to meet new people.


Where can I sign up?

Simply fill in the form on our sign up page or email one of the captains. You can also sign up in person at one of our JCR or MCR presentations. We will also be around the college fresher’s fair, so there is plenty of opportunity to get involved.