Three members honoured at boat naming ceremony

Boat Club community in MacAlpine Quad

Green Templeton Boat Club gathered on Saturday 21 October 2023 to celebrate the official naming of three of its boats.

Current boat club President Lachlan Arthur (DPhil Musculoskeletal Sciences, 2021) presided over the ceremony and reports

It is a special occasion when a boat club gets to name a new boat, and it is very rare that a club gets to name three boats on the same day! As Professor Michael Smets noted in his closing words for the day, ‘normally, a boat is named after a person who has passed away or donated a lot of money’. On this occasion neither was required, and the club was able to honour three of its long-serving members by enshrining their names on three new boats as a small way to acknowledge the many years of service they have given to the club.


The boat club community gathered in McAlpine Quad on the college main site for the boat naming reception and to celebrate our three honourees of the afternoon; Yulia Stange, Steve Woodhouse, and Michael Smets. The attendees showcased the breadth of the community, with members from the inaugural crews in 2008/09 through to club members new to the college for this academic year who had joined the club just weeks before.

The ritual of boat naming stretches back thousands of years as a superstition to protect the boat and its crews from peril. After gathering on the lawn for drinks and a few words to reflect on the boat club and the contributions of the afternoon’s honourees, the boats were christened the traditional way with their namesakes pouring champagne over their bows. After some celebratory toasts, the attendees retired to the Observatory dining room for a fantastic afternoon tea, with incredible food and service provided by the college catering team.

Champagne on the boat

The naming ceremony was a great day for the club to come together to recognise its history, which while only 15 years old, has been filled with unprecedented success. We were reminded of that success by the many blades chalkings that cover the walls of the Admin and Walton buildings that surround the quad where the ceremony took place. It was a thrill for the club to welcome back many alumni for the occasion. An alumni crew going on an outing on the river in the morning before the ceremony and many of the club members enjoyed hearing the boat club stories of years gone by that were shared by alumni throughout the afternoon.

The Blessing of the Boats

‘Today we come to name these boats the Yulia Stange, Steve Woodhouse, and Michael Smets. We send them to the waters of the Isis and beyond to be cared for, and to care for, the crews of Green Templeton Boat Club. We ask the rowers and coxes of old, and the mood of the Gods of the waters, to accept these boats as their name, to help them through their passages, and allow them to return safely with their crews.’

The new men’s second eight will bear the name Yulia Stange. Yulia joined the club in 2009 as a rower and remains an active member of the club. She served in official roles as Women’s Captain, President, Assistant Women’s Coach and Men’s Head Coach. In these roles she has won a countless number of blades and collected a lengthy list of accolades. Yulia continues as an honorary coach at the club and often subs-in to cox outings. She volunteers her time to help the club in many ways and offers support to captains and committee members. For many members of the club, Yulia is the first person they meet when they arrive at a taster session because Yulia loves novice season. As Yulia has led so many blades winning crews and taught so many GTBC rowers and coxes their skills, it is apt that the ‘Yulia Stange’ has already won blades (Men’s 2nd Eight, Torpids 2023), and will take many novices on their first outings in its time with GTBC.

The new double (2x) / pair (2-) was named the Steve Woodhouse. Steve has been a coach of the women’s squad for many years, overseeing the continual meteoric rise of the women’s crews up the bumps charts, with the women’s first eight currently in Division 1 for Torpids and within striking distance of Division 1 for Summer Eights in 2024. When not coaching or coxing a GTC crew, Steve can be found doing laps of the Isis in his single scull. As an avid sculler who has taken many GTBC members for their first sculling lessons, it is fitting the ‘Steve Woodhouse’ will have many club members take their first sculling strokes in it for years to come.

The new four (4+) was named for Michael Smets. Michael was instrumental in the establishment of Green Templeton Boat Club, as the inaugural president of the club after the merger of Green and Templeton colleges. He has remained involved with the boat club to the president day as a fellow of the college and member of the Boat Club working group. Michael is also an essential part of the Executive MBA Learn to Row course that the club runs in collaboration with the Saïd Business School. Few years have passed in GTC history when Michael has not been spotted in a GTC crew, and after almost being lured back into a boat for Summer Eights in 2023, we hope to see him in a bumps crew again soon – or at least for a row in the boat that bears his name!

Boat club community on McAlpine Lawn

Thinking about joining Green Templeton Boat Club? Students, staff, associate members and Alumni of the college are welcome to join at any time of year and we are always looking to welcome new rowers or coxes. Find out more about the boat club or contact the club captains via email to find out how you can get involved!

Created: 31 October 2023