Bowden Steps Down

End of an era at Oxford

4 minute read
Words Row360
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 21.04.24

Sean Bowden will step down as the Chief Coach of the Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) men, according to a letter released by OUBC to its members and seen by Row360.

Photo Sean Bowden coaching at Wallingford
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Bowden has led the OUBC men for 27 years, having been appointed in 1997. Prior to that he helped Cambridge end their 1980s losing streak with his two wins as Head Coach of Cambridge in 1993 and 1994. Bowden’s first win for Oxford came in 2000 and ended a run of seven Dark Blue defeats. Bowden’s 13 wins for Oxford, his most recent coming in 2022, along with the two for Cambridge, are the most wins by any coach in the history of The Boat Race.

In the letter, OUBC Senior Member, Professor Sir John Bell wrote: “Sean’s decision to join the OUBC in the late 1990s was a catalyst for positive change within the Club with his focus on athletic excellence and clear sightedness about what it takes to be successful and make boats go fast. Completing almost three decades with the Club is remarkable during which time he has inspired many and forged life-long friendships with his crews, colleagues and alumni. On behalf of everyone involved with Oxford rowing, I thank Sean for all that he has done for the Club and wish him all the best.”

Bowden was quoted as saying: “I would like to thank the many colleagues and staff with whom I shared so much. I always knew this was never a one-man job and I am so grateful to those whose contributions and support made the daily process of work feel like an adventure.”

“In addition, I would like to thank all the alumni who showed me unflagging respect as well as generosity of spirit to the team and Club. Their dedication to and love of the Club was always a source of inspiration and strength for me.”

“Finally I would like to thank all the rowers I had the enormous pleasure to work with. As much as winning was always the goal, we set out to do this in a way where individual growth and the upholding of honourable values went hand in hand with the performance on the water. I am forever in debt to all those amongst you who shared this vision, your honest effort and trust in me, as well as for the many learnings and lifelong friendships I gained.”

“I will always remember those great days with the team as amongst the most rewarding and formative that I could imagine. I wish the Club every success and good fortune in its continued journey ahead.”

Video Turning The Tide | A behind-the-scenes docuseries following the 2024 Boat Race crews