A good general history of team racing will be found on the Wikipedia team racing page (opens in a new window). The archives of the Club are stored in the University Library. The details of what is available there can be accessed via this CU Library link (opens in a new window). Apart from this page, historic information resides on two other sites, as under-noted.

Use the links below to access historic information on this page. Only the history of current main Club officer positions is recorded here - some positions have come and gone over the years. The Club's AGM was held traditionally in the Michaelmas Term, then in the Lent Term more recently, with an Annual Student Members' Meeting in the Easter Term. The AGM and the Student Members' Meeting were merged in the Easter Term of 2010, but separated again in 2013 - with the AGM reverting to the Michaelmas Term.

Photo of 1931 Cambridge team
The earliest surviving CUCrC team photo. The 1931 Varsity Match at Ryde in International 14's (Won by Cambridge). Part of the Club's Historic Photo Gallery (opens in a new window).

A Brief General History of the Club

The CUCrC was formed on 20th May 1893 by and for dons whose main interest was in cruising. The name chosen initially was 'Cambridge Cruising Club', changed almost immediately on 27 May 1893 to 'Cambridge University Yachting Society' and changed again on 6 February 1894 to the present 'Cambridge University Cruising Club'. Little attention was paid to undergraduates at first, unless they happened to own a large yacht, but Sharpies were being sailed on the Ouse at St Ives by 1898/99. Around the same time the need to "bring the Club to the attention of freshmen" was being mentioned at committee meetings.

At first the Club made use of the college rooms of officers for a library and social interaction. The first Cambridge clubhouse was established at Ram Yard in 1930 and the Club had one continuously from that time until the re-development of Falcon Yard in 1972. Since then, the great improvement in college social facilities that resulted from gender liberalisation, along with the electronic communication revolution, have rendered a clubroom obsolete - with a similar outcome occurring at Oxford.

In 1901 the hope that an undergraduate would be elected Rear Commodore was expressed, but it was not until 1921/22 that the current practice, of electing a Junior Head of the Club annually, was adopted. However, right from the late 1890's there was considerable 'Cambridge sailing' activity as well as 'big boat yachting' at costal locations. There was also a sizable London membership, with their own annual dinner, and some fears were expressed at the time about a possible split! Apart form the annual contest with Oxford, which started in 1912, early sailing was very much within the Club.

It was not until 1930 that external matches with other clubs and schools started. The first match with another 'university' was against United Hospitals in 1935, which UH won. Cambridge medics had to do their clinical training in London until 1976, so there were several ex-Cambridge sailors on the UH team. Matches were first sailed against University College, London (1947), Imperial College, London (1948), Trinity College, Dublin (1949), and London University (1950) - all won by Cambridge.

The question of suitable sailing waters near Cambridge remained a major issue over the years. The Ouse was first favoured - with locations at St Ives, Godmanchester, Houghton Mill, Ely, and Waterbeach being used from time to time, plus gravel pits at St Ives later in the 1960's. The Club's only known fatal accident took place on the river at St Ives in February 1950. R E Thomas of Selwyn lost the wind under the trees at St Ives in a Firefly and was swept under the bridge by the river, which was in flood. He could nor swim, was not wearing a life jacket and, most unfortunately, drowned. Modern Health & Safety regulations and practices were yet to be established.

Grafham Water appeared in 1968 and was much used in the 1970's - even to the extent of residential training courses being run at the Grafham Sailing Centre in 1970, and kit Enterprises being constructed by Club members around that time. Indeed, one such Enterprise is still being sailed by Elisabeth Nodder (née Jory - Selwyn 1977) at her home club! Hunts SC set up on a gravel pit near St Ives in the early 1970s, and was used as an alternative to Grafham in the Lent Term.

Cambridge windsurfing was initiated by Carol Chisholm, who was an International Windsurf Instructor when she came up to Sydney Sussex to read Mathematics in 1977. She persuaded the Club to buy three Ten Cate Mark 1 Windsurfers (wooden boom, stainless steel universal joint, a sample version is now in the National Maritime Museum) and, with the help of Nick Bion (Churchill 1976) and car-owner Jerry Marshall (Caius 1976), windsurfing started on the St Ives gravel pit. Windsurfing had been slowly dawning on the Cambridge scene, with Bruce Burnett (Corpus Christi 1975) leading a group to try out these new-fangled things at Sandbanks, Poole Harbour in the summer of 1977 - at the invitation of Bergasol, the suntan lotion people.

Then, almost miraculously, Milton Pit appeared in 1979, within a bicycle ride of Cambridge, and was used intensively until 1985. windsurfing benefited particularly from Milton's proximity to Cambridge. However, the Milton arrangements were not totally secure and the granting of planning permission for a tall industrial building at the south west corner of the pit put an end to all sailing activity there. The Club reverted to using Grafham, Hunts, and Waterbeach, with activities being focused solely on Grafham Water from October 2013.

Renewed interest in student 'big boat' sailing arose in the 1980's, although a scheme for matching undergraduates with owners looking for crews had been in existence for many years. This 'big boat' interest reflected the decline of dinghy sailing in general and the increasing availability of well-engineered and easily-maintained fibreglass cruising boats at competitive prices. In addition, demographic changes in the University meant that there were more people interested in, well, cruising! As of 2016, Cambridge has 3,500 post-doctoral researchers, 7,800 PhD students, and 12,200 undergraduates - and university staffing has also expanded to match these numbers.

Significant 'big boat' activity was initiated by Hywel Room (Downing) in 2001, and by 2012 the Yachting Section was over 200 strong and owned two cruisers. In that year the Section decided to separate from the Cruising Club and on 25th March 2013 the Section became the separate Cambridge University Yacht Club (opens in a new window).

The emancipation of ladies' sailing mirrored the stately progress of this matter at Cambridge in general - the first admission of ladies to men's colleges did not take place until October 1972. The earliest mention of 'sailing ladies' was in 1953, when a move to admit them to CUCrC membership was rejected. Then, at the instigation of Tim Eiloart (Trinity 1955), the Cambridge University Women's Sailing Club was formed in 1955/56 with Hilary Fischer-Webb (now Weeks, Newnham 1955) as Rear Commodore for her three years - followed by her sister Daphne (now Boddington, Newnham 1958) for 1959-61. (Daphne gained national distinction by being the first lady to win a major championship race - from over 50 starters at Redwing Week.)

In 1956 it was proposed that the CUWSC might affiliate to the CUCrC in 1961. In fact, by 1958 it had been agreed that CUWSC members could take part in all CUCrC activities and there was a Ladies Race at the Inland Regatta of June 1959. There was also a formal 'sharing' agreement drawn up in June 1959, which was ratified in November 1959 - at the CUCrC AGM. In 1967/68 the CUWSC merged with the CUCrC - five years in advance of the gender liberalisation of Cambridge colleges in general.

One of the more interesting byways of Club history concerns the Firefly dinghy, now the standard boat for university and college team racing in the UK. In 1939 Uffa Fox designed a 12 foot dinghy for Cambridge (and potentially Oxford, though they already had an Uffa 12 foot design), called the 'Sea Swallow'. The design was overtaken by World War II hostilities but post-war, when Sir Richard Fairey wanted a 12 foot design to hot mould in his soon-to-be-redundant aircraft autoclaves, Uffa sent him the drawings, with the Cambridge 'Sea Swallow' title scribbled out and replaced by 'Fairey Firefly'. The full history of the Firefly is recorded on the Firefly Class website (opens in a new window).

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Presidents - Senior Head of the Club

H TarnTrinity Hall1893 Rev Henry HennTrinity Hall1893-1899
G B FinchQueens1899-1913 H PorterTrinity1913-1918
Sir Arthur Quiller-CouchJesus1919-1944 H Yule OldhamKings1944-1946
Sir Geoffrey TaylorTrinity1946-1960 Sir Bryan MatthewsKings1960-1970
Col Ken WylieSt Johns1970-1981 Dick TizzardChurchill1981-1985
Chris AtkinsPembroke1985-1995 Prof Roger NeedhamSt Johns1995-2002
Graham CammMagdalene2002-2008 Prof Ian LiddellSt Johns2008-2016
Mike HaylesChurchill2016- 
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Commodores, Vice Presidents, Vice Commodores, and Rear Commodores - Junior Head of the Club

Prior to 1921 there was no annually-elected Junior Head of the Club. From 1921/22 to 1967/68 the title of the Junior Head was Rear Commodore; then 1968/69 it changed to Vice Commodore; then, after sections were established in 1986, it became Vice President; and finally, in 2005/06, it became Commodore. This list gives the names of the overall Junior Head of the Club - not to be confused with Team Captain or Head of Section (now titled Vice Commodore), which is recorded separately in the History section of the Alumni website. Liz Walker (now Hamilton) was the first lady to be Junior Head of the Club, serving as as Vice President for the two years 1988-90.

C S LeafTrinity1921-1922 G P ChandlerTrinity1922-1923
W de L WinterTrinity1923-1924 W D SmellieKings1924-1925
H R RogersTrinity1925-1926 J W KettlewellPembroke1926-1927
G C TozerTrinity1927-1928 Frank UsborneClare1928-1929
Stewart MorrisTrinity1929-1930 T H ScottClare1930-1931
Sir J N Nicholson BtTrinity1931-1932 John WinterTrinity1932-1934
W B de QuinceySt Johns1934-1935 J F PaxtonPembroke1935-1937
Ben Everton JonesDowning1937-1938 James BlewittTrinity1938-1939
Charles NanceClare1939-1940 W J HotblackSidney Sussex1940-1941
G F DeakinPembroke1941-1941 P R MastersPembroke1941-1942
B H ColemanJesus1942-1943 C H GriffithTrinity1943-1945
R G FrederickTrinity Hall1945-1947 W R SwannKings1947-1948
R R ColesClare1948-1949 J A SampsonCorpus1949-1950
C W GreenKings1950-1951 A G BakerCaius1951-1952
Jack KnightsDowning1952-1953 Brian HeronSt Catharines1953-1954
Mike PeacockTrinity1954-1955 George EdmondCaius1955-1956
Mike PopePembroke1956-1957 Mike ProsserTrinity1957-1958
Andrew GreenMagdalene1958-1959 Clive SampsonSt Johns1959-1960
Jeremy VinesEmmanuel1960-1961 John ThompsonPeterhouse1961-1962
Peter BainbridgeSidney Sussex1962-1963 Richard Hermon TaylorSt Johns1963-1964
Anthony ButlerClare1964-1965 Patrick GiffordMagdalene1965-1966
Peter DixonCorpus1966-1967 Chris BrownClare1967-1968
John CalvertCaius1968-1969 Roger WilliamsTrinity Hall1969-1970
Ricky WillowsClare1970-1971 Bob BarkerFitzwilliam1971-1972
Phil CrebbinMagdalene1972-1973 John BurkeTrinity Hall1973-1974
Will HendersonTrinity1974-1975 Mike HoyleSidney Sussex1975-1976
Chris AtkinsPembroke1976-1977 Bruce BurnettCorpus1977-1978
Mark StruckettSelwyn1978-1979 Roger YeomanCorpus1979-1980
John GilmoreKings1980-1981 Howard WilliamsQueens1981-1982
Roger BickerstaffKings1982-1983 Julian ElwoodTrinity1983-1984
Barry ParkinDowning1984-1985 Peter KennedyRobinson1985-1986
Amer AffanTrinity1986-1987 Keith LyonDowning1987-1988
Liz WalkerNew Hall (Murray Edwards)1988-1990 Ian WalkerDowning1990-1991
Anita CampionSt Catharines1991-1992 Nigel MasdingSt Johns1992-1993
Jon JamesCaius1993-1994 Sarah GriffithsKings1994-1995
Roger DouglasEmmanuel1995-1996 Mark CarletonDowning1996-1997
Archie MasseyPembroke1997-1998 Rob SherringtonTrinity1998-1999
Rich GuyEmmanuel1999-2000 Tom HebbertCaius2000-2001
Andy BramahCorpus2001-2002 Rob HoeyRobinson2002-2003
George HarstonSt Catharines2003-2004 Chris AddisonSt Johns2004-2005
Ed ClaySt Johns2005-2006 David KnightFitzwilliam2006-2007
Eddie GlennieCaius2007-2008 Frances WensleyMagdalene2008-2010
Felix DanczakHomerton2010-2012 Honor FellNewnham2012-2013
Josh FlackEmmanuel2013-2014 Tim PalmerSt Catharines2014-2015
Bryan OrmondPembroke2015-2016 George HopesCorpus Christi2016-2017
Jamie WebbCaius2017-2018 --2018-2019
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Senior Treasurers

O H HansonTrinity1893-1894 H H BrindleySt Johns1894-1902
C J CaveTrinity1902-1903 H Yule OldhamKings1903-1941
R S MamberTrinity1941-1942 E E BenestCaius1942-1944
E T SpoonerClare1944-1946 H J PyeSt Johns1946-1952
D N HarperSt Johns1952-1957 H O Carter-JonasSt Johns1957-1960
Col Ken WylieSt Johns1960-1963 Dick TizardChurchill1963-1969
Brig M L CrosthwaitDarwin1969-1976 Andrew TristramChurchill1976-1982
Brian RalphJesus1982-1983 Andrew TristramChurchill1983-1985
Prof Malcolm MackleyRobinson1985-2000 Michael John GiffordCaius2000-2003
Tom RidgmanWolfson2003- 
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Senior Secretaries

As per Treasurers(Combined role)1893-1903 Edgar AdamsDowning1903-1926
W de WinterTrinity1927-1937 David HinksTrinity1937-1940
B F Hounsell DammersPembroke1940-1946 David HinksTrinity1946-1947
P G SpensCorpus1947-1956 J W OatleyTrinity1956-1957
Roger NeedhamSt Johns1957-1962 Anthony RobertsSt Catharines1962-1964
Roger NeedhamSt Johns1964-1965 Jeff CoopePembroke1965-1969
David MarplesTrinity Hall1969-1974 John BurkeTrinity Hall1974-1977
Ricky WillowsClare1977-1978 Tim OwenChurchill1978-1981
Inger EadeSecretary to Master of Sidney Sussex1981-1992 Liz WalkerNew Hall (Murray Edwards)1992-1995
Jeremy JohnsonChrists1995-2001 Jim DowningPeterhouse2001-2011
Anthony ButlerClare2011-
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Trophies Awarded in Club Competitions Since 1899

The trophies are listed in the order they appear in old Club Handbooks. Several trophies have been lost - any help in recovering them would be much appreciated. The Club also has some trophies won, and artifacts acquired, over the years. The most notable is the Marine Hitler Jugend (Youth) plate won at Kiel in 1938 by J F Paxton and Brian D'Arcy-Irvine. A CUCrC team of Stewart Morris, J F Paxton (Seniors) and Brian D'Arcy-Irvine, John Blewitt, Michael Ellison, Keith George (Juniors) took part in the Kiel event, winning several trophies. Ellison (1st) and Blewitt (3rd) won the team event (actually an inter-club fleet race) by beating three other teams, including a Hitler Youth team, in one long light-weather race, each team having two boats. The 'Youth' plate is a trophy that Paxton and D'Arcy-Irvine won for 2nd best foreign team in a series later in the week, sailing together in a so-called Monotype. The trophy is complete with a dent resulting from Stewart Morris (deliberately) dropping the it during its presentation - as a protest against fascism. All these items are the responsibility of the Club Trophy Trustee - currently Mike Hayles. The 'Inland Regatta' mentioned below was a day long event on the Sunday/Monday/Tuesday of May Week, held 1899-1978. The last Regatta of which there is a record was held in 1977 at Hunts SC - Trinity beat St Johns in the final of Cuppers, Mark Struckett won the Gosnell Cup, Bruce Burnett won the Lightning Cup, Chris Brown won the Clover and Winter Cups, Rob Jeffreys won the Bill Smith Trophy, and Chris Atkins and Mary Clarke won the Coffee-Drinkers Cup. In addition, it is known that Chris Brown won the Clover Cup in 1978, and Bruce Burnett won the Lightning and Simpson-Channel-Winter Cups that year. The 'Marine Meeting' was a week-long event held at some costal location at the end of June - before the Varsity Match - from 1903 until 1966. The last Marine Meetings were held on Osea Island on the River Blackwater in 1977 and 1978 after a lapse of a good many years. In 1977 Bruce Burnett won the Lowles Cup and Sandy Polak won the Eurynome Bowl; there is no record of results for 1978. Before the days of structured RYA dinghy training, members were classed as experienced ('A'), somewhat experienced ('B'), and inexperienced ('C'). Class 'A' sailed with and instructed Class 'C'; Class 'B' members sailed together.

Challenge CupFor a Michaelmas Term Club Championship (also called St Ives Week). Repurposed in 2014 for the second team in the Match Racing Varsity MatchPresented in 1965-66 by the Undergraduate Officers and CommitteeCurrently in competitionPhotograph of Challenge Cup
A small EPNS cup, plinth missing
Simpson-Channel-Winter CupFor a single-handed match race at the Inland Regatta between the winners of the Clover and Lightning CupsPresented in 1899 by Evelyn Simpson, Commodore 1899-1903. Won outright (three consecutive victories) in 1902 by A W Channel, Vice Commodore 1903-04, who re-presented it as the Channel Cup. Won outright again in 1935 by J K Winter, Rear Commodore 1933-34, who re-presented it as the Winter Cup.Stolen in a major burglary at the family home of the holder Bruce Burnett in the summer of 1978Photograph of Simpson-Channel-Winter Cup
A fine, large silver cup
Clover CupOpen to Senior Members for single-handed sailing at the Inland RegattaPresented by Stewart Morris in 1933Currently lostPhotograph of Clover Cup
A a fine silver chalice with engraved burgee
Lightning CupOpen to Junior Members for single-handed sailing at the Inland RegattaPresented by J K Winter in 1935Stolen in a major burglary at the family home of the holder Bruce Burnett in the summer of 1978Photograph of Lightning Cup
A nice silver cup
Gosnell CupFor an annual new members racePresented in 1939 by Mrs Gosnell in memory of her husband Ralph Gosnell, Vice Commodore 1923-25 and 1936-39.Not in competitionPhotograph of Gosnell Cup
A fine silver rose bowl and wooden plinth, originally won outright (three consecutive victories) by Ralph Gosnell in his 5 Rater at Tamesis SC in 1902
Bill Smith TrophyFor new members who have not raced before joining the ClubPresented in 1952 by Mrs Smith in memory of her son W E SmithCurrently lostAneroid barometer
Coffee Drinkers CupFor mixed double-handed sailing at the Inland RegattaInstituted 1959Currently lostA tankard
Tozer CupFor weekly races in Class 'A'Presented by G C Tozer in 1929Not in competitionPhotograph of Tozer Cup
A fine silver tankard - lost in the 1970's and returned in 2004
The Jubilee TankardFor Saturday races in Class 'A'. Repurposed in 2016 for the second team in the Windsurfing Varsity Match.Instituted 1955Currently in competitionPhotograph of Jubilee Tankard
A pewter tankard
Leaf CupFor weekly races in Class 'B'Presented by C S Leaf in 1929Currently lostA tankard
Saturday Points CupFor Class 'B'Instituted 1955Not in competitionA tankard
Hayward-Coles TankardFor weekly races in Class 'C'Presented by G W Hayward and R R Coles in 1950Currently lostA tankard
Saturday Points CupFor Class 'C'Instituted 1955Not in competitionA tankard
Monthly Challenge CupsFor all three Classes; Class 'C' Cup repurposed in 2016 for Windsurfing Cuppers (Silver Fleet)Instituted 1955Classes 'A' and 'B' lostPhotograph of Monthly Challenge Cup
A pewter tankard
Royal Harwich YC Swordfish TankardWon by Club members in 1948; Repurposed in 2016 for Team Racing Cuppers (Silver Fleet)Currently in competitionPhotograph of Royal Harwich Tankard
A pewter tankard
Yule Oldham (Cuppers) CupFor inter-college team racingPresented by H Yule Oldham in 1924Currently in competitionPhotograph of Yule Oldham Cuppers Cup
A fine silver cup
Queenborough CupFor the Yachting Varsity Match since 2004 (which match was actually sailed in Nov 2003)Presented by the Royal Thames YC in 1950 and used in indeterminate ways until 2004Currently in competitionPhotograph of Queenborough Cup
A fine large silver cup, plinth missing
Hounsell-Dammers ClockFor a single-handed series at the Marine MeetingPresented by B F Hounsell-Dammers in 1924 - previously the trophy was an annual 'Presidents Cup'Not in competitionPhotograph of Hounsell-Dammers Clock
Mechanism needs repair
Brindly CupFor a single-handed race at the Marine Meeting. Re-purposed in 2013 for Windsurfing CuppersPresented by H H Brindly in 1956Currently in competitionPhotograph of Brindly Cup
Won originally by H H Brindly in a single-handed race at the 1909 Marine Meeting held at Poole
Lowles CupsFor helmsman and crew in a double-handed series at the Marine MeetingPresented by Sir Geoffrey Lowles in 1955 - from 1903 the trophies were annual 'Commodores and Vice Commodores Cups'; from 1925 the 'Vice Commodores Silver Bollard Inkstands', which were lost in the early 1950sCurrently lostPhotograph of Lowles Cup
Rather ornate cups
Eurynome BowlFor a novices race at the Marine Meeting. Re-purposed in 2014 for a Match Racing Varsity MatchPresented by George Cockshott in 1950Currently in competitionPhotograph of Eurynome Bowl
Won originally by the yacht 'Eurynome' at a SGYC event in 1903 - a plinth added in 2015 to record winners
Cruising CupFor the best cruising log of the year sent in by a members who matriculated less than 6 years previouslyInstituted 1926Not in competitionOnly plinth remains
The Cambridge (Cam) Cup - previously the Morris Cruising GobletOriginally for the best cruising log of the year. Re-purposed in 1999 as the trophy for the Lent Term invitation team racing eventPresented by Stewart Morris and G C Tozer in 1933Currently in competitionPhotograph of Cam Cup
Identical to the Clover Cup. Lost in 2000 and found again in 2013.
Yule Oldham (Varsity) CupFor the annual team-racing match with the Oxford University YCPresented by H Yule Oldham (C) in 1928 (the previous trophy, the Spender Cup, having been lost)Currently in competitionPhotograph of Yule Oldham Varsity Cup
A fine silver cup
O&CSS 75th Anniversary Ladies SalverFor the annual ladies team-racing match with the Oxford University YCPresented by the Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society in 2009 on the occasion of the Society's 75th AnniversaryCurrently in competitionPhotograph of 75th Anniversary Ladies Varsity Salver
A fine silver salver
Paul Cox Windsurfing (Varsity) TrophyFor the annual windsurfing match with Oxford UniversityConstructed by Chris Addison (C) and presented for competition in 2005. Renamed in 2013 in memory of Paul Cox, an Oxford windsurfer who competed in the Varsity Match of 2005 and died a few years after going down.Currently in competitionPhotograph of Paul Cox Windsurfing Varsity Trophy
A piece of driftwood mounted with two brass windsurfers
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