If you like water but not rowing, CUCrC could be the place for you!Pixabay

Cambridge is renowned for its boating culture, and many a fresher has had to navigate their way round their college’s Boat Club President trying to recruit them before they get a chance to unpack.

However, despite its popularity, rowing is not the only way to dip your toes into a life on the water. The Cambridge University Cruising Club (CUCrC) offers sailing and windsurfing (team racing, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, Royal Yachting Association training, kitesurfing), and, crucially, a slightly less competitive passage for any student embarking upon a voyage from new to a Blue. The club is open to both veteran competitors, with many members racing internationally, and those who have never got out on the water before and who are happy with a short sail followed by a long pub.

For the uninitiated, allow Varsity to lend some expertise: sailing is like rowing only instead of oars, sailors use sails. And, as a result, the Cruising Club leaves behind the overcrowded rat race of the River Cam in favour of open water, wind, and the feeling of liberation found only at Grafham Water, a large reservoir 25-miles to the west of Cambridge. When out on the water, team racing matches are organized into two groups consisting of two, three, or four boats, with all boats restricted to one class and reasonably fairly matched. The final results of all boats taking part are combined to work out the overall winner, with races generally taking no more than ten intense minutes.

Rowing is not the only way to dip your toes into a life on the water

Formed in 1893 by some cruisy Cambridge dons, the CUCrC has gone from strength to strength in recent times, winning a medal in the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Team Racing event every year for the last six seasons, including first place finishes in three consecutive years within that period. The Cruising Club benefits from strength in depth, drawing 24 racing team members from around 50 members across the University. This has led to the qualification of three teams to the BUCS finals consistently over the last five years. Last year Cambridge crews came second, third and fourth out of a total of 75 teams in an unparalleled team triumph. It really is a vibrant and competitive scene.

If national domination is not enough, however, and your sporting inspiration revolves around a fierce rivalry with the Dark Blues, never fear. The Team Racing Varsity match was, in fact, the earliest recorded regular modern Team Racing event, with Cambridge winning the first contest by two races to one at Ely in 1912. Today, Cambridge predictably leads 56 wins to 40, including the last five mixed match-ups and the last two ladies’ clashes. The windsurfing Varsity match has run since 1982 with the Cambridge first team winning the last three. Cantabria rule the waves.


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Now, down to business: the arrangements for awarding Colours and Blues to team members. Close your eyes and picture your future. To earn a Half Blue an athlete must sail in the Varsity match and qualify for the mixed British Universities Sailing Association Championship finals, while a full Blue must reach the last 8 of these finals. Women may also become a Full Blue by sailing in Varsity, placing first or second in the RYA/BUSA Ladies’ Championships, and being on a team that qualifies for the mixed BUSA Championship Finals.

Considering that around half of all members of the club are selected for the racing team that competes in these events, The Cambridge University Cruising Club looks like a very attractive route towards the achievement of all your dreams and the awarding of Blue status, along with all the prestige that goes along with it. So go on, push the boat out!

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