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Next up, the Boat Race!

Noam Mouelle, Hughes Hall Physics PhD student, confirmed in the Blue Boat for 26th March.

Noam, 21, selected for seat 3 and fellow Hughesian Tom Lynch, for seat 5, will help make up the ‘engine room’ for the first boat. Here, Frenchman Noam talks about his journey to Cambridge, his PhD and the positive impact of rowing on his academic endeavours.

Noam Mouelle is studying a PhD in Particle Physics and already has an exceptional career in rowing. Having started out as a judo enthusiast, his Mum decided that it was time he tried an outdoor sport. So when he was only 9 years old, he found himself rowing on some of the smaller rivers outside Paris and over the course of the next year his passion started to grow. At first however, he was too young to do the National Championships as a rower, so for the first couple of years he took part as a cox.

Noam remembers: “It actually took a while for me to really start enjoying rowing and the competitive side of the sport. At first I just really enjoyed seeing my friends. But then I started rowing in the competitions and I got my first medal as a J14, two medals at J15 and I won the National Championships at J16 and again in J18. In total I won it four times in different categories and it was such a good feeling.”

A PhD at Cambridge

It wasn’t until last year when Noam decided he wanted to do a PhD, that he wondered whether rowing for Cambridge could be a possibility. He recalls feeling so ‘very far away’ from Cambridge and the Boat Race when he was younger and that had made it difficult for him to imagine a path that would lead to rowing for CUBC. 

The BBC interviewed Noam in February ahead of a profile piece for the Boat Race day television coverage.

Noam continues: “I was fortunate that when I arrived at the University, I’d had a lot of experience and been at the U23 world championships in the summer so the coaches accepted me straight into CUBC.”

You don’t need experience to try rowing

“But it’s important to say that you don’t need experience to try rowing and nobody should be scared if they want to have a go because actually it’s quite a simple sport and it’s definitely something you can start in later life. Look at Reef Boericke who rowed in Goldie in 2021 and 2022, winning by 6 lengths in 2021. Then there’s Dan Toy who only signed up to rowing after the pandemic because he was inspired by an ergs challenge with his Cambridge housemate during lockdown. Both these men and so many others are excellent rowers on the CUBC squad who only started rowing at Cambridge.”

Noam moved from France to study Physics at Imperial College in London, and then onto Cambridge in October 2022. He has since been studying for a PhD in Particle Physics at Hughes Hall, where he loves the international community of mature students who he says often have fascinating stories to tell. Far from rowing getting in the way of his studies, he says it definitely has a positive impact on his work, helping him cope with the pressures and stresses of academia and forcing him to have structure in his day and his tasks. 

Noam joins friends for lunch in College. As a Physics PhD student, his schedule is demanding but he manages to strike a healthy balance between his research and his rowing.

Rowing provides a healthy balance

He says: “When I’m working I really try to do my best and make the most of the time I have. Rowing has been beneficial in many ways and one of those is the fact that because you’re always subject to high amounts of pressure it means that generally you’re less stressed because you’re used to it. The stress I have when I race is so much more intense than an exam so it makes it feel relatively easy. It’s also great to have balance and have something else other than your studies. When you study a PhD you can have a week where you make zero progress, so it’s nice to have something else that goes well – it’s great that the PhD isn’t my whole life.”

As well as the benefits to his physical and mental health, Noam enjoys being part of an exceptional team of supportive, encouraging and inspiring people at CUBC, which he says are a community of talented people in many ways and not just rowing. 

Training in Ely: Noam rows in two with fellow Hughesian Thomas Lynch, in four. Image credit: Nordin Catic

Good luck Noam and crew on 26th March!

Further information

The Gemini Boat Race 2023: https://www.theboatrace.org/ 

Cambridge University Boat Club: https://cubc.org.uk/ 

Hughes Hall Boat Club: https://hugheshallrowing.wordpress.com/joining-the-boatclub/