The Boat Club was founded along side St Peter’s Hall in 1929. Making waves in their first Torpids Regatta in 1930, the First Eight was named ‘Torpids’ Surprise Crew’ by The Times newspaper, with coaches College Master, Christopher Chavasse and old rowing Blue and College Bursar Toby Tinne.
“St. Peters’ Hall made a brilliant debut, for they only came into existence two years ago. They made a bump every afternoon, and from the ease with which they made them would have gone a long way into the Third Division before reaching the end of their tether. Their performance is the more noteworthy as they have only 40 members on the books. Next year their prospects will be hardly as good, as most of those rowing this year in the Torpids will be requisitioned for their Summer Eights.” – The Times, February 27 1930, p. 7
There was a break in traditional format of College rowing during the Second World War from 1939 – 1945. Smaller colleges were grouped together to enable them to compete in inter-collegiate rowing events. Back then, these events were still called The Torpids and Summer Eights however were not acknowledged as official races later on and do not show up in the official statistics.
It wasn’t until 1979 that women competed for St Peter’s College, with one Torpids crew and two Eights. Emily Guilder Cena recalls-
“As a short history, in the fall of 1979 Lauren Chapin, P.J. Long, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to learn to row, and we managed to find enough other girls at SPC who were also interested to put together a single eight for Torpids. That first crew was: Clare Gilham (stroke), Lauren Chapin, Belinda Jemal, Judith Wilson, Emily Geilker, Eileen Scallen, P.J. Long, and Gillian Chedzoy (bow).Since it was obvious we were having so much fun rowing, more women wanted to participate and we fielded two ladies eights for Eights Week. Those crews were: 1st Ladies Eight: Julia Ferguson (cox), Emily Geilker (stroke), Judith Wilson, Clare Gilham, Eileen Scallen, P.J. Long, Gillian Chedzoy, Laura Byatt, and Lauren Chapin (bow); 2nd Ladies Eight: Geordie Royle(cox), Caryn Minnit (stroke), S. Tinker, Belinda Jemal, K. Moore, K. Clarke, J. Frank, J. Brown, and A. Gelling (bow).We were coached by Derek Hickman and T.R. “Chico” Khan-Gandapur.” – Emily Guilder Cena
Photos of crews and events past remind us how steeped in tradition Oxford College rowing is, and make us all the more proud to be part of St Peter’s Boat Club.
St Peter’s College Boat Club has also left its mark on its alumni, who have shared with us with photos and memories, and have returned time and time again for dinners and alumni events. Giving back with generous donations without which we would not have our fleet to drive us to every success. To all who have made the boat club what it is today – we cannot thank you enough.
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