Located near to Cambridge University Ely Boathouse, Ely College has partnered with Isle of Ely Rowing Club to offer rowing taster sessions to over 180 students. The Gemini Boat Race Bursary award will enable Jason Coe and his team to give students the opportunity to take part in an activity previously perceived as financially, physically or even mentally inaccessible. Students will have the opportunity to showcase their evolving teamwork and physical skills in local and national competitions, both on the water or as part of indoor Ergo teams. The college partnership with Isle of Ely Rowing Club, has meant rowing has never been more popular at the school and the support from Gemini will allow for the continuation of summer and Easter taster sessions to ensure the maximum number of students will have any barrier removed from taking part in rowing.
Ely has long-established links with the Boat Race. The Very Reverend Charles Merrivale one of the key instigators of the inaugural Boat Race was Dean of Ely Cathedral. In 1944, the Boat Race was rowed on the Great Ouse, north of Ely. In 2004, the 60th anniversary of this event was celebrated with “Diamond 44” a rerun of the race. Seeing Oxford and Cambridge racing again on this wonderful stretch of water raised the question “why isn’t there a rowing club in Ely?” and so the Isle of Ely Rowing Club was born.
Isle of Ely Rowing Club enjoys an enviable position opposite the Cambridge University Boat House with over 13km of unobstructed water, wide enough for several boats side by side and with little river traffic. The club also enjoys a good working relationship with CUBC. In 2021, IOERC Juniors supported the Covid-19 Boat Race in Ely with Juniors on the stake boats and the club providing a parking and ferry service for volunteers and officials.
Ely College and Isle of Ely will make a new rowing history in Cambridgeshire
Ely College works with over 1400 students ranging in age from 11-18. Students live predominantly in the City of Ely and surrounding towns. The college aims to develop and foster physical activity habits and lifelong engagement opportunities through its curriculum and extra-curricular offer. A partnership with Isle of Ely Rowing Club has increased the number of junior rowers from the city of Ely taking up the sport.
The initial Partnership in 2018 ran 6-week taster sessions for 48 students in blocks of 16 before selecting a committed group of 16 for future weekly extra-curricular sessions. All students were offered the opportunity to join the junior section of the club and a number, in addition to the 16 college session rowers, took up this opportunity. Despite sessions at 7.30am throughout the year the students showed outstanding enthusiasm and commitment.
With the support of The Gemini Boat Race Bursary more young people will be able to take up a sport and enjoy learning a new skills and developing fitness with team mates.