Boat race celebration

Fitz rowers make history as Cambridge beat Oxford

Two Fitzwilliam rowers broke records last Sunday, becoming the first pair of Fitz students to partake in the same winning Cambridge Lightweight Men's team for the first time in decades.

Felix Craig-McFeely (Natural Sciences) and Zuhri James (Geography) were on the men’s team that beat Oxford by five lengths, Cambridge’s first such win since 2018. They were the first two Fitz students to do so in the same team since Brian Potterill and Colin Pritchard in 1989. 

They also made history in other ways. 

Felix was not only the winning cox last Sunday, but he was also a winning rower in the Trial Eights last December - the first person to do both in the same season in the history of the Boat Race. It's also the first time Fitz have had two housemates in the same team - Zuhri (Geography) and Felix (Natural Sciences) live in together on Oxford Road. 

"I've been on the team for two years and it was the perfect race for us, as good an ending as we could have hoped for," said Felix. 

"We've been training about 12 times a week for the race since the start of September. Barring a week off at Christmas, we've otherwise trained straight. In winter it can be difficult, it can be cold. But it's all worth it on a day like last Sunday where it's been hot sunshine, and we're being cheered by Cambridge supporters. It makes it pretty special."

"After a few tough months of training and illness, to round it off with a comfortable win alongside my housemate, was special," said Zuhri.

"This was my first year trialling, so it took me a while to adjust to the squad but once I did, I felt at home. I sat in the bows [of the boat] during the race so I had to make a lot of noise throughout, feeding back to the rest of the guys how we were doing relative to Oxford. We finished five lengths ahead in the end."

Having grown up in Putney in London, Felix was on home turf on the 6.8km course along the Thames. Last year he was in the reserves, and looked on while his twin brother won for Oxford. This year, he had a more decisive role.

"Inside the boat I steer the boat and act, as cox, as a bridging role between coaches and team, in terms of strategy and tactics," he said. " We get a huge amount of support from alumni and coaches and families and people in other teams - the club fields 6 crews per year. And after being in isolation for the last few weeks, it was great to get that level of support. It was great that the lightweight woman's squad also won, and we all had a nice meal together." 

"After a few weeks of controlling our diet, it was special," Zuhri added.

They took two days off after their victory last Sunday, and are now gearing up for the Head of the River race this Saturday, March 26th, where they're hoping to beat Oxford again. 

In the medium-term, they will race in the Bumps this June for Fitz, and in the Henley Regatta this summer for Cambridge.

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