When Caius Boat Club’s W1 – women’s first crew – take to The Thames at Henley on Friday, they will bid to conclude a happy and successful stint under the coaching of Dr Timothy J Schmalz by taking a place at next week’s Royal Regatta.
Tim is a Lecturer in Modern European History and Senior Esquire Bedell (or ceremonial officer) of the University of Cambridge, while being affiliated with Sidney Sussex College. However, there is no doubt over his rowing affections, which are firmly Caian.
After being a substitute coach with W2 for three outings in October 2020, Tim became W2 coach in Easter Term 2021, guiding the crew to blades in the June Eights Regatta, which replaced May Bumps due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A move to W1 as head coach followed for this academic year, and Tim has seized the opportunity.
Now, after moving from fourth to second last week in a May Bumps in which Caius had five women’s crews, W1 will be competing in qualifying for the Island Challenge Cup, hoping to take a seal a place at Henley Royal Regatta next week.
“One of the most rewarding things about being a part of the women’s side is seeing so many women find something in rowing,” Tim says.
“Whether it is competing at the top level here in Cambridge and beyond, or just having fun, picking up new skills, building relationships and, importantly, building confidence.
“So many have said they enjoy themselves so much, they love seeing improvement in a new skill and they have found a friendship group at Caius. It’s awesome. It really is a club for everyone.”
Pictured (from left to right): back row: Bronya Sykes, Georgina Acott, Vera Kunz, Carys-Anne Earl, Emma Radford (co-Women's Captain), Tim Schmalz, Pippa Morris; front row: Charley Craig, Michelle Crees (co-Women's Captain), Milan Hirji (centre)
Caius W1 have some enforced changes from the May Bumps crew, as Bronya Sykes and Vera Kunz will race for Cambridge University Boat Club. Bronya was CUBC President in 2021-22. That presents an opportunity for Caius, with two rowers promoted from W2, demonstrating the integrated approach which has served Caius well this year.
Tim, who learnt to row at Cambridge, spent six years coaching at Sidney, and was attracted to the challenge of coaching Caius, attributes much of the women’s crews’ successes – W2 and W3 took blades in Bumps – to co-captains Emma Radford and Michelle Crees.
He adds: “Emma and Michelle are visible and organised. They bring such hype and energy to the squad. They’re supported by two lower boat captains, Charley Craig and Megan Peters, who ran the novices in Michaelmas. Together the four of them did phenomenal work. I think they made CBC fun for everyone, which is the priority.
“In college rowing clubs can often be cut-throat competitive, or fun. But Caius excels at both being fun and competitive in a healthy balance.”
It is also inclusive, with Tim saying some who tried rowing in Michaelmas of their first year have returned in their third year attracted by the inclusiveness of a club where men and women support each other, and the experience of others.
Henley marks the end of Tim’s time at Caius Boat Club, but he is hoping that will come next week in the Regatta, rather than in Friday’s qualifying. He is moving to Radley College to teach history and coach rowing.
He says: “I’d love to coach Caius women again if the opportunity arises. Coaching them has been the best experience of my life.”
Main photo: Milan Hirji, Michelle Crees (co-Women's Captain), Pippa Morris, Carys-Anne Earl, Georgina Acott, Tim Schmalz, Vera Kunz, Bronya Sykes, Emma Radford (co-Women's Captain) and Charley Craig