St John’s College Boat Club’s Successes in the 2022/23 Season

SJCBC Publicity Officer, Deiniol Brown, summarises some of the Boat Club’s most successful moments during this year’s rowing season.

St John’s College Boat Club has had some great achievements this rowing season, with significant wins for both the women’s and men’s crews at multiple races.

John’s women’s firsts rowing to victory at the Tyne HoR

In Michaelmas term, the club took three 8+ crews to Rutherford Head, with the men’s and women’s first crews winning their respective bands. At the time, this was well celebrated, but turned out to be only the start of SJCBC’s winning streak. In Epiphany term, the club first competed at the Tyne United New Year head, sending one men’s and one women’s 8+ crew. Once again, the teams exceeded expectations, with the men’s crew coming first in their band, and the women’s crew coming a close second. Durham Small Boats Head followed quickly after, with John’s sending a huge seven 4+ boats to compete, with the men’s firsts coming second in their band and the women’s firsts winning theirs. The week after, John’s Boat Club competed at the Tyne Head of the River, with the women’s crew winning their band, and the men’s crews coming 3rd and 5th. With any luck, this string of successes will continue as the club looks to compete at York Head of the River on the 25th of February, and then Women’s Head of the River Race (4th March) and Men’s Head of the River (18th March) in London.

Women’s 1st IV after winning at Durham Small Boats Head

These victories have been the product of a great deal of hard work and determination from both the Club Captains, and their crews. Ahaura Keighley, women’s captain, commented about the women’s experiences this year:

“The squad’s success this year is down to the dedication of each rower and the amazing teamwork we’ve fostered. SJCBC women’s squad is built first and foremost on friendship. We all give 100% for everyone in the boat.”

Ben Sporton, men’s captain, had this to add on the men’s progress so far:

“A great deal of commitment and enthusiasm from our rowers has seen the men’s squad flourish this year. The novice squads performed well, taking 3rd and 7th in Novice Cup; they set the tone for the year. The nearly 30 strong squad has enabled us to make our presence felt at key races. Under the experienced eye of Alex Cardnell, our Coach, the 1st VIII has worked countless hours to place SJCBC up amongst the top names in Durham college rowing. Taking home prizes at several races has fuelled the hunger of the crew. Despite our performance edge this year our training has been supplemented with memorable socials and plenty of terrible attempts at humour. Looking forward, both VIIIs are training hard and hope to put on an impressive show for our alumni at Head of the River.”

Men’s second VIII after racing at Rutherford Head

The club has grown in size significantly this academic year, making up from the losses in numbers suffered due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The intake of students from younger year groups, both with previous rowing experience and those without who joined through the novice training programme, has allowed the club to increase the number of training sessions and send more boats to events. The larger numbers have also fostered a friendly and competitive community that has improved the club’s overall commitment and professionalism. The commitment from the club’s top crews has also been admirable, as they have maximised their number of outings per week and have numerous strengthening and conditioning sessions alongside. They have benefitted greatly from the experience of Alex Cardnell, a St John’s and Durham alumnus who rowed for both SJCBC and Durham University Boat Club whilst studying here, and currently rows for the Durham alumni team. Together with his expertise and the increased commitment of the rowers, St John’s top crews have been able to excel in this year’s events.

Men’s 1st VIII ready to row at Tyne HOR

The work of coxes has also been indispensable this year with Cox Captain Rosie Allen leading a successful novice cox programme that saw five novice coxes competing at DSBH. Here is Rosie’s comment on the year so far:

With so many successes rightly attributed to the rowers, one must not forget to applaud the shivering coxswain asking bowman to take the hundredth tap, so they don’t crash into another boat. Earlier this week, I was reminiscing about the first ever coxes meeting I had where I emphasised the number one rule was to dress like the Michelin Man in many layers! They really have come on in leaps and bounds and I’m incredibly proud of the strong coxing base we now have. With six novice coxes (all new this year) it’s such a blessing and a curse. All the coxes performed excellently in their first race at Durham Small Boats Head. It’s probably madness to try and send three novice coxes to Head of the River Race, but to quote John, “it’s certainly not a problem I thought we would have at the start of the year”.

Men’s 1st IV coming second place at the Durham Autumn SBH

Support for the club has been felt by all, and warmly received by the captains, allowing them to realise St Johns’ potential. Ben, men’s captain, noted “much of what we have achieved would not be possible without alumni support and donations which have been greatly appreciated and have enabled us carry out some much-needed upgrades”. We kindly thank all those who continue to support and take an interest in the life of the club, and hope to give an even more exciting end to the year in the coming months.

Captain of Boats, John Richards, ends by summing up the year so far:

This year the club has built real strength and depth in both squads. Coxing within the club has also been a huge strength of the club with a large group of novice coxes who are the envy of every other college on the river! The hard work of everyone in the club as well as much appreciated help by our alumni has really paid off with wins for both first VIII’s and We/HoRR entries for 3 boats.

You can find more info, and a link to our Regatta Blue Alumni network on our website:

This article has also been published on the SJCBC website

To contact the St John’s College Boat Club Team, please email

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