First event of the year done this weekend and what a good start. The senior crews headed down to the NWSC this weekend for the Senior British Championships, a two day regatta placed right at the start of the head season and university terms. Competitors from 73 clubs descended on Nottingham including Olympic champions from both Rio and previous Olympiads, multiple world champions, BUCS champions, EUSA medalists, and the next batch of potentials for 2020. The high level competition sees many universities putting out crews after little time together with new athletes, often the returning crews making an appearance so early on. To encourage close racing the format is for all crews to time trial in the morning, then placed in order form A/B C/D etc semi finals, with crews progression to appropriate finals from these. This is all crews so done as an open event, U23 lightweight university crews pitted against openweight international crews, then from the final results the winners of individual categories are decided.
Saturday was the fours, the men's squad put out two boats, both time trialing well, and being placed in the same semifinal, in neighbouring lanes. Pushing each other all the way to the line the boats finished 3rd and 4th, progressing to separate finals. The lightweight crew took charge of their D final from the start and finished strongly ahead of the field. In the C final the heavies came away with a close 4th place, this placed them above all other crews in their category, giving them the win in the University Shield.
Sunday was busier for the club, the two men's fours combined into an eight, and were accompanied by a women's 8, and a lightweight quad from both squads. In tougher conditions all the crews performed well in the time trials, with the men's eight sitting just outside the times for A/B semis. The men's quad composed mainly of new athletes made it to the E final, placing in 3rd. Not to be outdone the women's quad fought well into the C final, finishing 5th against a field of heavyweights, all the girls in this boat are fresh from junior rowing, weighing around 55kg and up against crews twice their size and much their superior, they came out as the fastest lightweight crew of the day. Up next the women's 8 battled hard in their semi final but couldn't quite hold on to the crews ahead, ending up in the D final finishing 4th place. The men's 8 rounded the day off in style, gaining speed throughout the 3 races they went into the C final anticipating a close field and needed to put everything they had in. Sitting down in the field for the first half of the race they made the move and came through the competition to finish 1 second behind the winners from London. This placing meant they won the University Shield for the second day as well, pipping Oxford to it by a matter of seconds.
This weekend was a chance for the club to test itself against the best in the country and make its first mark of the year and it did so. The University shield was a new category added this year, aimed at all Non High Performance Program Clubs, those receiving funding from GB rowing are classed as high performance. We are the first university to win the University Shield on both days in the 4's and 8's and this ranks us as the best non HPP university in the country, boding well for the coming year and future of the club.
A note from our captains;
'Racing at the British Championships is always a great start to our racing season. It gives us the opportunity to practice our racing skills and allows the freshers to represent the university for the first time. The results were promising, considering the short time we have been together as a squad, and the extremely high level of competition both crews fought against. Racing with the best in the country has taught us a lot as a squad and will help build up our momentum into head racing season.'