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Stepping Away From the Light (Blues)

Steve Trapmore leaves Cambridge with the last laugh

“It wasn’t until I actually started this job that I realised the scale of the challenge ahead,” says Steve Trapmore as we talk in Putney, after his last outing as Cambridge men’s head coach. It’s the day before the 2018 Boat Race.

The quick turn over of heavyweight men’s coaches Cambridge had seen prior to Trapmore’s arrival eight years ago meant that CUBC had “largely been running on a year–to–year” basis since Robin Williams left in the mid 2000s.

The club, says Trapmore, had “lost its ability to have any sort of medium to long term strategy.”

Trapmore had joined, in late 2010, a Cambridge programme that was lingering in the doldrums.

Going into it, Trapmore admits he hadn’t considered the implications of the task ahead, but the arduous process of turning the programme round came to be what he found most engaging.

He brought a high level of pragmatism to his approach. “I had to learn as much as I could about the programme, and what had worked before,” says Trapmore. “Then mould that to my own experiences and apply my input.”

His own athletic rowing career started at Walton Rowing Club, aged 15. By 1993, at 17, he was in the Great Britain junior team, competing in the junior world championships. As a senior athlete Trapmore trained with the Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association, where a young Sean Bowden was looking after the lightweight eight. Bowden would of course go on to become the most successful and longest serving Boat Race coach for Oxford, and Trapmore’s arch–rival throughout his eight years with the Boat Race. “I was almost coached by Sean,” says Trapmore, “he was coach of the British eight in 1996, which I trialed for, but just missed out on.”

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