Boat naming ceremony for the new women's VIII

The Spirit of '95

Three women's captains: Alison Chmiel (1984), Leena Mueller-Koegler (2021), and Alex Bidlake (1995)

Three women's captains: Alison Chmiel (1984), Leena Mueller-Koegler (2021), and Alex Bidlake (1995)

Alumni, coaches and students gathered at Cantabrigian Rowing Club on Saturday to name the new women's VIII. The boat, a Filippi F54, was purchased earlier this year thanks to the kindness of 22 Queens' alumni who matriculated between 1950 and 2017.

The event began with speeches by Chris Clark (2007), the Club's Senior Treasurer, and Abi Smith (2018), the current QCBC President, who thanked all our donors - both those in attendance and those who sadly couldn’t make it to the ceremony - for their generosity. Leena Mueller-Koegler (2021), the current Women's Captain, then recounted W1's adventures in the boat so far (including a double over-bump in Lents 2024!), and her hopes for the crew going forward.

Left to right: The Revd Anna Jones, Michael Clark (2008), Julia Stout, Alison Chmiel (1984), Paul Knights (QCBC Boatman), Alex Bidlake (1995), Chris Clark (2007) (QCBC Senior Treasurer), Peter Peterzan (1950), Fraser Allan (1995), James Bayliss (2017)

Left to right: The Revd Anna Jones, Michael Clark (2008), Julia Stout, Alison Chmiel (1984), Paul Knights (QCBC Boatman), Alex Bidlake (1995), Chris Clark (2007) (QCBC Senior Treasurer), Peter Peterzan (1950), Fraser Allan (1995), James Bayliss (2017)

Alex Bidlake (1995), who generously provided matched funding during the fundraising campaign, reminisced about her experience at Queens’ and the value of rowing at QCBC, both in terms of the friendships she made and the passion she found for the sport. Alex continues to row, representing the Hong Kong Yacht Club at the Rowing World Master’s Championships and many other races each year.

Alex pouring prosecco over the new boat to celebrate its naming

Alex pouring prosecco over the new boat to celebrate its naming

The boat has been named The Spirit of ’95 to recognise the contribution of the two principal donors to the boat, Alex and Fraser Allan, who won their oars together and both matriculated in 1995. Alex hopes that this name will continually remind our coxes and rowers that the alumni are their "biggest fans", cheering the students on from around the world.

In her speech, Alex said that she and the other donors were motivated to give back to the club because they greatly enjoyed their time at QCBC and wish to ensure its continued success.

This year's Mays W1 crew

This year's Mays W1 crew

The event concluded with a prayer from the College Chaplain, Revd Anna Jones, who blessed the boat and all those who will row in her over the coming years. This was followed by a ceremonial row by the current W1 crew.

The College is very grateful to the donors to the boat and all those who continue to support QCBC.

The Spirit of '95

The Spirit of '95