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Leander Lunch 2023

Old and current members of the Boat Club gathered together for the Univ Leander Lunch at the Leander Club on Saturday 3 June. Henley and the river was absolutely gleaming under a blue sky in the bright sunshine. The Boat Tents were fully up and the canvas city of the Regatta Enclosures was taking shape, and this hinted at future excitement, enhanced by the activity of eights taking to the water and others returning to the Leander pontoon.

The warm weather allowed the pre-lunch drinks to be taken outside on the decking overlooking the river. Many of the student rowers arrived straight from a morning outing and all looked in regatta mood in their blazers and summer finery. The Old Members mingled with them and memories of outings and races past and more recent were soon being exchanged.

In his welcome at the start of the lunch Richard Powles drew attention to the 1965 crew, which had included himself, which was both the oldest and the best represented eight among the Old Members present. Following the lunch Greg Cuff, the incoming Men’s Captain, gave a review of the past year from the men’s perspective, and then Alex Joyce and Tara Narayan, the joint incoming Women’s Captains, spoke about the past year’s results and future prospects.

Overall the Club had a very good year, with some notable successes, and any disappointments along the way have been seen as a spur to future achievement. Priority had been given to small boat training in the Michaelmas Term, and also to coaching the novice rowers that the Club had been delighted to welcome. Our Women won the Autumn Fours, and the Men reached the semi-final of their event. Winter training continued with good results by both Men and Women in the Open and the Ladies Head of the River Races, and also in other Head Races and outside events. All this hard work was rewarded with excellent results in Torpids. Our Ladies attained the ultimate accolade of Head of Torpids, and M1 made four bumps to finish 5th on the River.

Expectations had been high for Summer VIIIs in the previous week. Univ boated five crews which all performed very creditably, and this in itself was testimony to the spirit and enthusiasm of the Club. W1 started right at the front as the reigning Head of the River, but was forced to yield this position to a really fine crew from Christ Church which was strengthened by returning rowers from the Blue Boat squad. They then managed to row over in second position for the following two days, but were caught by Teddy Hall in the final 50 yards after a courageous and gruelling row. However, as Tara Narayan said in a challenging call, 3rd position would be a great place for Univ to start next year in its fight back to the Headship. M1 made two very good bumps to rise to 9th on the River, whilst M2 looked a strong crew as they made three bumps.

Greg Cuff reported that the men are planning to link up with Oriel to form a composite eight to enter for Henley Royal Regatta, and we all wish them well for qualification. The Women remain in training to compete in various Summer regattas, including Llandaff where they have achieved success in the past.

Ron Jordan proposed the toast to the Club. He remarked on the great spirit in the Club that he had seen in Summer VIIIs, and the evidence of the fun and friendship being enjoyed in all the crews, and which had always been a feature of rowing in Univ. He congratulated Jono Cheesman and the other coaches for their outstanding work, noting that all of W1, and many others in the Club, had learnt to row at Oxford. The high standard of rowing across the Club was a tribute to the coaching and encouragement that had been given. He also thanked all the Old Members present for their support, and the many Old Members who had not been able to attend but had sent both messages of good will and in many cases also donations to help defray the expenses of the occasion. He also thanked the Club’s Senior Members of the Club, Michael Collins, who was present, and Andrew Gregory, our Chaplain, who looked after the Club’s interest on the Governing Body. Through them he also asked that the thanks of all present should be passed on to the Master and Fellows for their continuing support for rowing in Univ. Finally he expressed the thanks of Richard Powles and himself for all the help that they had received in the organisation of the lunch from the Alumni and Development Office, particularly from Tess Raven.

After the lunch a Group photograph was taken on the Leander lawn, with Jono Cheesman clutching the Women’s Head of the River Trophy, which would now bear Univ’s name for evermore. All the coxes present sportingly sat in front on the ground, including some who had not pulled on the rudder strings for many years!

Report by Ron Jordan (1963, History)

We hope you enjoy the below gallery of photos from the day.

Photo Gallery

Published: 20 June 2023

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