The novices were quickly mocked by the rowing community onlineLouis Ashworth with permission for Varsity

A boat of Clare novices capsized into the river during an outing on Tuesday morning (24/10), allegedly setting a record by becoming the first boat of eight to be tipped into the Cam in five years.

‘The Capsized Eight’, as the men’s novice crew now refer to themselves, were rowing ‘Bert’, a relatively old model deemed to be the “hardest boat to tip” due to its unusually wide build.

After the dip, Bert was eventually rescued by the Clare women’s crew, who turned it back over and pulled it to shore, while the men’s crew jogged barefoot back to their accommodation for a hot shower.

The outing had a delayed start due to the crew spending the first 30 minutes looking for a missing screw, without which they wouldn’t be able to get out onto the water.

They later reflected that this was probably a form of “divine intervention”, a sign from the universe that it may have been better to stay on dry land that morning.

Even once the outing started the rowers reportedly lacked balance and a sense of direction. Mike Taliotis, who was rowing in seat 6, told Varsity: “We weren’t in sync. We weren’t feeling it.”

“As half of our time had been wasted looking for the screw, we were in a rush to get onto the water and make it back in time for our 9 am lectures,” Taliotis said.

At one point, the crew found themselves steering towards the bank, with the bow side ending up dangerously close to an abandoned houseboat. The cox, cautious not to hit the moored boat, instructed bow-side rowers to pull their oars in.

Bert was already tilting heavily towards the bow side when one rower extended his hand towards the houseboat in an attempt to push away from it. This shift in the boat’s centre of mass sent the entire crew toppling into the icy Cam waters.

“Everyone went into shock, because the water was freezing cold and we were touching some weirdly-shaped debris. I’m pretty sure there was a shriek from one of the rowers, though I’m not sure who it was,” Taliotis recounted.


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Comments, jokes and memes from the wider Cambridge rowing community followed on the ‘Rowbridge Reborn’ Facebook page.

One user noted: “Clare is now the only college who can honestly declare their novices can swim 50m in the safety declaration.”

Another user inferred that capsizing may have been a tactical move, suggesting that the crew tipped Bert in an attempt to “upgrade their fleet” to boats that didn’t leave rowers suffering from “ass blisters” from wooden seats.

The Capsized Eight informed Varsity that they are planning a commemorative jump into the Cam on the anniversary of the incident next year.