The Hawks’ Club Team of the Year award honours a Cambridge University sports team that has had an exemplary season in the 2015-2016 academic year. The recipient team will have achieved sporting excellence, always displayed outstanding sportsmanship, contributed to raising the profile of sport at Cambridge, and supported its members both in and out of the sporting arena. Improvement and development of a team may be taken into account alongside instances of longstanding athletic success. The award recipient will be decided by means of a vote cast by resident hawks and the winner will be announced sometime after voting closes on Thursday 19th May at 12 noon.
The submissions have been cut down to the the following three finalists:
Cambridge University Cruising Club (CUCrC; Sailing)
2015-16 has seen an unprecedented season for the Cambridge University Sailing Team, who dominated the University Sailing circuit for the entire year, winning their third straight BUCS Team Racing Title, and recording the first Varsity whitewash over Oxford in almost 20 years.
The start of the season saw Cambridge retain the Open Varsity trophy with a dominant 4-0 victory over the Dark Blues at Strangford Lough Yacht Club, Northern Ireland, in early July 2015. A strong intake of freshers then bolstered the returning squad members at a competitive trials at the start of Michaelmas.
As the season progressed the squad began to reap the rewards of a hard winters training, qualifying for BUCS Finals, winning the Oxford round of the University circuit (a key indicator of form going into BUCS) and placing fourth (and first University team) at the Open Nationals. As the season drew to a climax, the First team retained their BUCS title for the third consecutive year from a field of over 80 entrants, beating Exeter University 3-1 in a tactical final. This level of dominance is almost unrivalled by any University Sailing Team in the 70 year history of BUCS Sailing. A feature of the Sailing team, however, is not just the standard of the Firsts, but the strength in depth throughout the whole squad. The Second VI placed fourth and the Thirds a very respectable 18th in what was a first full season for much of the team. Southampton were the only other University to have three teams qualify for the finals, whilst Oxford’s First (and only) team finished 23rd, boding well for Varsity this summer, where Cambridge are aiming for a fourth consecutive win.
Amongst a plethora of other individual and team successes throughout the year, two members of the 2015 BUCS winning team represented Great Britain as part of the British Universities Sailing Association (BUSA) Tour, where they comprehensively demolished the USA team, 4-0, across a series of matches held on the East Coast of the United States in September. Current club members also finished second at the 2016 Team Racing National Championships, and fourth at the 2015 Student Yachting Worlds in France.
Sailing is an extremely rewarding sport, and the facilities at Cambridge are amongst the best in the country, in no small part thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Junior Members. The whole squad has committed the entirety of almost every single weekend in Michaelmas and Lent terms to training or competing around the country. Numerous members of the team also receive generous support from the Hawks’ trust that allows them to afford the costs of their sport. In spite of this, sailing is certainly one of the more niche sports undertaken by members of the Hawks’, and we enjoy explaining the intricacies of the sport to those who are interested.
Winning the Hawks’ Team of the Year award would make it much easier to demonstrate the clubs extraordinary successes to our fellow Hawks in the clubhouse, and help bring us out of the shadows of our more illustrious colleagues in their longer, thinner boats!
Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC)
In recent years, Cambridge University Boat Club has not had an easy run. Under Steve Trampore’s leadership, the club has faced a never-stronger OUBC programme, having delivered only one win since 2010. After 6 years as underdog, CUBC grafted its way back into The Boat Race with a triumphant win against Oxford in 2016.
From the beginning of September, the group was small in number. Yet off the back of a string of defeats, the Light Blues were more determined than ever to turn the tide. The first glimpse of a Boat Race winning crew came following a narrow second place at The Head of the Charles, behind a coxed four from the US National Team. Shortly after this rousing performance, the squad took to the water in the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours – the only occasion prior to The Boat Race that the Light and Dark Blues compete directly against each other on the water. For the first time since 2008, it was Cambridge that came out on top; beating Oxford and a GB Senior Squad boat to win the Elite Coxed Fours category. The season had begun well, but a Tab’s greatest mistake would be to underestimate the belief and ability of Oxford Coach Sean Bowden and his athletes.
As selection of the Blue Boat and Goldie crews was coming to a close in February, the racing fixtures began. The Blue Boat delivered a series of outstanding results, defeating Oxford Brookes, who won The Head of the River Race 2016, and emerging triumphant against an extremely strong German U23 lineup featuring a number of Junior and U23 World Champions. Goldie, meanwhile, notably beat Thames Rowing Club, who placed third at The Head of the River. Reserve crews would be deemed exceptional to place in the top 5 at this competition, so to beat the bronze medalists is no small feat.
With no living memory within the club of crossing the finish line in Chiswick ahead of Oxford, the 27th March was set to showcase an extraordinary race. Staged in tempestuous conditions, which nearly saw the women’s crew sink, this proved to be the case.
The Goldie crew, in its unwavering support of the Blue Boat, was plagued by the illness and injury within the squad, and unfortunately came up short of beating the Oxford Reserves, Isis, though they fought fearlessly until the bitter end. The Blue Boat was another story. From the moment the umpires flag dropped, the Cambridge boat took the race head on. Edging out a small lead in the first few hundred meters, the margin continued to grow. As both crews moved around the Surrey bend, the furious conditions began to take their toll, and it was Cambridge who dealt best with the waves crashing over their bow. Breaking clear of the Dark Blues, the crew reacted to every Oxford attempt to move back into the race. Cambridge beat Oxford by two and a half lengths and claimed their first undisputed victory in six years. In the face of seemingly unstoppable Dark Blue momentum, the Cambridge squad has grafted remarkably, day in and day out, to overturn a string of defeats.
Cambridge lead Oxford by 82 races to 79.
Cambridge University Powerlifting Club (CUPLC)
It is with great pride that I put forward CUPLC to be considered for the honour of Hawks Team of the Year. For each of the last 3 years, we have been able to say as a club that this has been our most successful year to date. I am delighted to be able to make this claim once more. This year we have broken the record for consecutive powerlifting Varsity wins, now at four. Not only did we comprehensively beat the other place, but in doing so we also set a new total score of 2503.45 Wilks. The Wilks score is powerlifting’s way of normalising a lifters total weight lifted to bodyweight and gender so a direct comparison can be made between, for example, a 120kg male lifter and a 50kg female lifter. Each lifter in the competition makes three attempts at each of the three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. The heaviest lift from each of the three varieties is summed to form a total. Our total score this year required an average Wilks of 417. For a 72kg male athlete, this would require a total of close to 570 Kg from the sum of a single squat, bench press and deadlift. Wilks calculators are easily available online if you’re interested to see how you would compare.
Acknowledging CUPLC’s ability to host a flawless competition, the other place actually requested we hold their home year Varsity in Cambridge. Of course we were delighted to do this, but we didn’t stop there. On the day of Varsity, we simultaneously hosted the British Universities powerlifting championship, inviting over 150 lifters from around the country to compete. Strong teams from Loughborough, Newcastle, UCL and many more arrived but none could match the power of CUPLC. Thus, once more we are the British Universities powerlifting champions. As such, we have been selected by the Great British Powerlifting Federation to represent Britain at the International Student Powerlifting World Cup Minsk this summer.
We believe our current success is a reflection of the fundamental principles of CUPLC, which have been developed over the last five years. We are a community which supports any student willing to give powerlifting or general weight training a try, be it with the aim of competing at Varsity and beyond or simply just to get a little stronger and fitter. We offer coaching sessions and seminars for novice and advanced lifters, run weekly pre/rehab sessions in the new ‘Team Room’ of the Sports Centre and always have a plethora of experienced and accomplished lifters to help and advise when needed. By not solely recruiting and focusing on those who arrive with years of lifting experience, we have grown a large and thriving club where the gains are shared between novice an advanced lifters alike.
Cambridge University Cricket Club (CUCC)
Although the Varsity Matches took place after the nominations for last year’s team of the year, CUCC should not be overlooked for this year’s award. After one of the most successful seasons since 2012, the club performed to an extremely high level both on and off the field.
Being a summer sport and one that spans from the Easter holidays until into July, the season in itself is one that requires a lot of commitment, endurance and desire to achieve success. Add into this the pressures of exams, representing the club has its own outside pressures. To achieve the success the club enjoyed last summer was therefore fully merited. Add to this the representation of the university in the Cambridge MCCU side (the combined team of Cambridge and ARU) by no fewer than 9 Blues, shows the ambition and passion of the team towards the sport.
Throughout the season, the side managed to perform to high levels, especially after the exam period was over. In the 8 games in June/July, the side won 5, drew 1 and lost 2 (to Sydney University filled with current and ex-pros and Oxford in the One-Day Varsity). Notable wins against the MCC, Scottish combined universities and Irish combined universities (winning the tri-team Hone MacGregor tournament in the process), the side established a winning mentality, which enabled a high level of performance in the 3 Varsity matches.
A bad 45 minutes aside in the One-Day Varsity at Lord’s, CUCC were within touching distance of only the second treble Varsity success in the history of the cricket Varsity (the other being the 2012 side). With a win in the home T20 Varsity and a convincing win in the 4-day Varsity (won with a day to spare), the side capped off a great season with the deserved rewards.
Off the field, the success of the T20 Varsity match hosted at Fenner’s should not be overlooked. The togetherness of the club, in organizing and then hosting the day, highlights another positive aspect of the club’s achievements last summer.
After a very successful year, with the first Varsity wins for the side in 2 years, an award such as this would make the efforts of the whole team even more special and rewarding.
Cambridge University Swimming and Water Polo Club (CUSWPC; Swimming)
Cambridge University Swimming Club has enjoyed a year of superlatives unprecedented in its 161-year history. Following a record loss in the 2013 Varsity Match (117-63), and with only modest improvements in 2014 (108-72) and 2015 (110-67), there was little expectation that this year would be any different. Having been relegated from the top division at BUCS last year and with some of the team’s strongest swimmers graduating, the two captains’ realistic goal for the year was ‘not to lose Varsity by a record amount’. However, morale was bolstered by a strong intake of freshers and a burning desire among the returning swimmers to reverse our losing streak.
The entire team have trained exceptionally hard all year, contending with 5 early mornings a week (some as early as 5:15am) and spending up to 16 hours a week in the water alone. The 60,000 lengths of Kelsey Kerridge swum by each member of the team since October would take them halfway from South America to Africa. Since the men last won Varsity in 2007, the club has collectively swum some 80% of the way to the moon. The net result of this hard work has been astonishing. On an individual level, PBs have been shattered. 2nd-year Dominic Holloway came 20th in the UK in the 50m breaststroke at Winter Nationals. Captain Erik Sullivan’s 200m freestyle PB (Full Blue time 1:58.78) has plummeted from 1:57.26 in October 2015 to 1:52.70 at Varsity, winning him the race comfortably. Fresher Henry Choong anchored both Varsity relays to victory with 100m freestyle times of 52.16 and 51.31, obliterating the Full Blue time of 53.50, despite having less than 5 minutes’ rest between them.
For the club as a whole, the improvements have been even more dramatic:
- An overall 91-89 Varsity win marked the first time the men’s team have won in 9 years, competing against an Oxford team featuring 4 swimmers who have competed internationally. Many of the races came down to the wire, with Cambridge winning the 400m freestyle by as little as 0.005 seconds per length, and the final, deciding relay was a tie to the nearest hundredth of a second with just 50m to go.
- After relegation last year, Cambridge are the fastest team getting promoted back to the top division at BUCS. For the first time in Cambridge history, our A and B teams will be in the highest possible divisions; we are one of only 9 universities in the UK to be in this position, and the only one to have accomplished it without a university swimming pool.
- A record of 8 men met the difficult criterion for a Full Blue this year, up from the previous record of 6. As the Full Blue standard is invariant, this acts as an objective comparison between years.
- A record number of club records were broken this year by 9 different swimmers, with the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m and 100m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay all swum faster than ever before by Cambridge Uni students.
- Cambridge University swimmers came 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Cambridgeshire County Championships, establishing us as one of the dominant clubs in the county.
- Cambridge comfortably won this year’s inter-university Relays Gala to reclaim the trophy.
Outside of the pool, progress has been every bit as transformational. Tireless work from the club’s Alumni Secretary has resulted in an extraordinary surge in engagement from the Club’s alumni: both an “Old Blues” match and an alumni division of the Henley Varsity Swim were founded this year, and a recent fundraising drive has allowed the club to ensure that no athlete’s financial situation prohibits them from representing Cambridge. Moreover, the construction of a University swimming pool, critical for the sustainable expansion of the club both in terms of performance and numbers, has been bumped up to priority status. Record participation in Swimming Cuppers this year (up 45% in 2 years) means swimming is more accessible than ever, and has set the foundation for even greater success in the future.
Overall, this has been the perfect year for Cambridge swimming, and no one could have expected any more from the athletes. Many of our achievements this year were deemed genuinely impossible as recently as October. Across the board, 2015-16 has been a year of rapid, unfaltering improvement both for the club as a whole and for individual members, and has set an unparalleled precedent for future years. It is for this reason that I believe Cambridge University Swimming Club fully deserves to be the Hawks’ Team of the Year.
Cambridge University Athletics Club (CUAC)
2016 will be recorded in the annals of the club’s history as a historic year for Cambridge University Athletic Club. The Cambridge men kicked off the season at VFEAR, the annual indoor relays and field events match against Oxford. VFEAR was won by the biggest score margin for many years, comfortably winning both the track and field titles, even with key Blues being unable to compete due to injury. Fantastic team and individual performances shone through, with one individual match record, and a team record in the pole vault and hammer.
In the run-up to the Varsity Match, one of the most talented Cambridge men’s team of recent years was rightfully full of confidence. It was a day of huge performances across the board from Cambridge athletes, and in amongst the 14 personal bests from our men, 7 athletes put in a strong enough performance on the day to get the standard and earn their Full Blue. At the conclusion of the day, there was no doubt as to the victorious team, and Cambridge men once again walked away with the winner’s trophy.
In addition to winning both of our Varsity matches, CUAC also had a fantastic year beating Oxford at the BUCS Championships. Two men came away from the weekend with medals, a total of 4 top-eight finishers and 10 national rankings. The results of which have ensured that an unprecedented 4 athletes have been recruited to US elite training teams.
If all of our achievements on the field of play have not yet convinced you that CUAC should be the Hawks Team of the Year, let us not forget our glorious open-top-bus, blazerwearing, champagne-spraying, trophy-waving and God-Damn-Bloody-Oxford-crushing celebratory lap of honour round the Oxford town centre. If that isn’t everything it means to be a Hawk I don’t know what is. CUAC deserve your vote because heart and soul we know what it is to be light blue.
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Disclaimer: This poll is not representative of what Resident Hawks have voted officially.