30 September 2019
Saturday 28 September marked the culmination of an ambitious refurbishment programme, delivered by St Mary’s School, CCRC and Homerton College to create exceptional rowing facilities and access to Olympic-level coaching that will benefit both St Mary’s girls and the wider local community.
In a celebratory ‘ribbon-cutting’ ceremony, Charlotte Avery, Headmistress of St Mary’s School, Cambridge – the only all-girls school in Cambridgeshire – shared the school’s growing reputation for rowing excellence. Over 60 girls already enjoy participating in four St Mary’s rowing squads, from novice to competitive level, benefitting their fitness levels, as well as communication and team-building skills.
A new ‘home’ on the River Cam, combined with expert coaching via CCRC’s excellent Junior Rowing Programme, will enable talented rowers from St Mary’s Senior School and Sixth Form to access the support they need to excel, all the way up to GB trials, where successful athletes race with the GB squad.
As part of the ceremony, Charlotte Avery reflected on equality in rowing, highlighting St Mary’s School’s passionate commitment to empowering every girl to be her ‘best self’ and to fulfil her potential without limits. Charlotte reported that as St Mary’s girls take to the river, they will be “mindful that they stand on the shoulders of women who, less than 100 years ago, were told that rowing was most definitely ‘not for girls’.”
In fact, the very first Women’s Boat Race Crew competed against Oxford University in 1927. However, the two teams did not race at the same time, as Heads of the University Colleges ruled that: ‘lining up side-by-side was unladylike.’ The women rowers were judged on: ‘steadiness, finish, rhythm and other matters of style.’
Looking to the future, Charlotte Avery commented: “I feel extremely positive about the future of rowing at St Mary’s. Today puts us firmly on the map, with exceptional rowing facilities and coaching in the heart of Cambridge, a city with a rich heritage in this fantastic sport.”
Steve Trapmore, British Rowing High Performance Coach said: “This project is a great example of partnership working across different sectors to improve access to sport for all. As Cambridge’s oldest town rowing club, the refurbishment of the City of Cambridge boathouse will transform rowing opportunities across the local community.”
Larkin Sayre, President of Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club said: “It is brilliant to see a project that will encourage more people to enjoy a sport I am so passionate about. I’ve been watching the new boathouse as I cycled past during every step of construction and it’s great to see the finished product. I look forward to seeing St Mary’s girls on the river and hopefully some will be inspired to continue rowing at university and throughout their lives!”