Last weekend a group of senior and novice women's crews headed down south to race at Reading Amateur Regatta, the first matched race (2 boats side by side) of the regatta season. This is a popular event in the run up to Henley Women's and Henley Royal to gain experience in the racing conditions and to get an early measure of other crews. Kicking off the day was our boat of first years, coming off the lightweight golds at BUCS to race in the openweight IM1 quads. Winning their first race against Reading RC by a comfortable 4 and a half lengths, they moved into the semi final against an experience heavyweight crew from the University of London. The crew were down off the start, forcing a move that saw them row through the opposition to win by a much closer three quarters of a length. In the final the girls met Reading University's top heavyweight quad, and went out hard, leading for the first half of the course, eventually the home crew pulled through to take the win in a strong race.
Up next was the novice eight, their first ever matched race, and one more to their handful of races attended so far. They were knocked out in their first race by a tidy crew from Southampton University, showing huge amounts of improvement over the last few weeks, and giving them confidence to go into Henley Women's with.
The final crew representing the university was the IM1 coxless four, dominating their first race by 5 lengths they made the final, only for their opposition to withdraw. Taking the point by default they rowed in an exhibition race against a crew from Harvard University which they took by a length and claimed their medals.
This weekend saw the same boats travel down to race at Henley Women's Regatta, along with an additional eight composed of intermediate women from this year's cohort. The event is run over 3 days, with qualifying races on Friday morning, followed by the first side by side races in the afternoon once the draw is released. The finals then run over the weekend, rounding up on Sunday afternoon. The two eights aiming for a place in the Academic 8s category had good rows in the time trial, using it as a chance to experience the iconic boomed course that they would get to race down later in the day. The novice women made more improvements, having a respectable row, but weren't able to pull off a fast enough time, the intermediate group managed to make it through though, and put in an admirable effort in their first race, missing out on a space in the next round by a small margin.
Next on the time trials were the lightweight girls back at it again racing in the openweight senior quad category. After a tidy time trial they were drawn against the top quad at Brookes University, a strong crew of girls that demonstrated their power over the 1500m. The lightweights put in a fierce race against Brookes, also just missing out on the quarter finals.
The last crew down was the heavyweight coxless four, coming off the success at Reading, and made their way into the first heats following the example of the Academic 8 and the lightweight quad. Here they pushed the bar one step higher, continuing into the quarter finals of Saturday against another strong crew from Oxford Brookes University. Though giving it a brave performance, they were unable to break into the semi finals, finishing just short of the opposition in the end.
The quad and four now move on along with our mens eight to prepare and race at the Henley Royal qualifiers on Friday, where they will have the opportunity to compare themselves to some of the best crews from around the country, and from around the world, with many international squads taking the first year of the Olympiad to travel around for some races.