Novice to Goldie testament to Caius Boat Club pedigree

  • 01 April 2022

The freshers’ barbecue at Caius Boat Club provided an incentive for Reef Boericke (Engineering 2018) to give rowing a go. Now the fourth-year student is in Goldie, Cambridge’s reserve boat, for the 2022 Boat Race.

Reef had hoped to emulate another Caian by advancing to the Blue boat this year. While there may be a tinge of disappointment not to have made the Blue boat for the April 3 event on The Thames, Reef reflects on his short time as a rower pleased to have been selected for a second straight year in Goldie, who take on Oxford reserve boat Isis before the Blue boats duel on The Tideway. Fellow Caian George Hawkswell (Engineering 2014) is also in the Goldie Boat.

“I learnt to row in my first year, was a spare in my second and was in Goldie last year too,” Reef says.

“I had hoped to follow in Ben Dyer’s footsteps and wanted to make the Blue boat to complete that.

“If I look at it objectively, I’m proud. I’m happy to be in Goldie and not too disappointed to not be in the Blue boat.

“Before I came to Cambridge I did triathlon, even though my dad was a rower. And when I came to Cambridge I thought I’d try out – the Caius Boat Club barbecue appealed too!

“It’s a testament to Caius’ novice programme that they can produce so many athletes who go on to trial (for the Blue boats).”

Reef has had to balance the demands of his final year project – on 3d printed graphene aerogels for gas sensing – and preparing for exams while preparing for the Boat Race.

“There’s definitely crunch times where sleep is limited, or it’s very much row and work and nothing else,” he adds.

His teenage years as a triathlete, balancing training for swimming, cycling and running, have helped in his transition to one sport.

He may return to triathlon in future, with the Ironman distance – a 3.8km swim, 120km bike and marathon run – a future objective. A move to London and rowing with one of the clubs based on The Thames, is also a possibility.

For now, he is content to reflect on his rowing career to date – and to look ahead to a return to the Tideway for the first time since 2019, as the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic and the 2021 edition was held at Ely.

“Rowing at Caius, where it’s integrated with other year groups, meant I became friends with a wider group of people,” he said.

“And rowing as a trialist for the university is a rewarding test to push yourself to get better and better to compete with guys who have a lot more experience.

“Last year was a lot of fun and comfortable, racing on home water and knowing that all our preparation had directly prepared us for the race. It took away some of the excitement from the big show, but we won.

“I’m very excited this year to get the big experience on the full course on the Tideway.”

Main picture: Reef, seated second from right in seat 3, competing at Henley Regatta (credit: Nordin Catic)

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