Hugo Ramambason is the first cox to become President of the Cambridge University Boat Club. The fourth-year chemical engineering student has coxed the Men’s Blue Boat for the last three years. Here Hugo explains how he combines studying, coxing and being CUBC President.
What does it feel like to be President of CUBC?
It’s a tremendous honour to have had the opportunity to lead the club this year – especially as a cox. It’s not normally a role coxes take on because leading the team from the front can be hard when the cox and rowers have such different experiences.
When I arrived at university, I remember making the reserve crew in my fresher year and being delighted by that. To have had the opportunity since then to participate in the Boat Race, and to lead the team into one is not something I ever expected I’d be able to do.
It must be challenging to cox the Blue Boat, study and be President. How do you it?
Yes, it’s been a tough year. Beyond the usual mix of rowing and studying, which I’ve done for the last few years, there’s been an additional ‘administrative’ burden this year. Clearly defining my priorities, and being disciplined with my time, have allowed me to balance everything. Knowing when something isn’t a core priority, and having the confidence to not dedicate time to it, means that I’ve been able to stay focused on doing the important things right.
What coping strategies have you developed to deal with the pressure?
I try to be very disciplined with my sleep. I usually get up at around 5.50am on weekdays, and I try to sleep for eight hours, so I try to get to bed well before 10 most evenings. Being well rested makes everything else that much easier. I’ve also got friends within the University who know nothing about rowing or chemical engineering. Spending time with them is an easy way of forgetting about work or rowing. I have to watch my weight for coxing and regular exercise is an easy way of forgetting the pressure.
What are your plans Boat Club-wise going forward?
We’ll probably try to put crews together for Henley Regatta this summer, but for now I’m just looking forward to this Boat Race.
What skills and attributes have you developed as cox and President that you think will be useful for your career?
Competing for the University has really taught me how to manage my time well, to be disciplined and invest myself in things that I care about and not necessarily the things people think I ought to care about, and how to deal with pressure. I’ve loved being a student at Trinity, and I’ve certainly learned a lot throughout my four years here, but I really think being part of CUBC has taught me so many things I could never have learned in a lecture hall. I’ve lost the three races I’ve contested so far, and although not necessarily a lesson I had wished to learn, rowing has taught me how to learn and bounce back from failure.