After a run up dotted with inclement weather, illnesses across squads, and injuries rearing their head, the past two days brought the first set of results for the new year. And it was a good set. Travelling up to Newcastle early on Saturday morning our novice squads would be kicking off BUCS 4s and 8s Head. With little race experience since taking up the sport this was the first opportunity for the crews to see what they’re made of in some tough conditions and against equally tough competition. On the women’s side, the eight and four put in strong rows on the choppy Tyne, finishing up in the middle of the pack with good potential to move on for the summer regatta when they face the crews again. Sending just a coxed four on the men’s side, the boys pulled together as the wind picked up in the second division, ending the day with a credible 8th place from 21, a really strong result after their first term of rowing, giving them an exciting target for BUCS regatta to break into the beginners A final. This was their first real event since joining us in September, and their first time travelling and experiencing race day with the senior squads as part of the club. The results along with the experience gained at an event like this will set them up for the Head of the River races and coming regatta season.
With the novices returned to Nottingham, Sunday saw the seniors take to the water. The changeable conditions would see the day split into three, with the usual senior 5km course raced in the morning, and a shortened 3km course in amended 2nd and 3rd divisions, responded to well by the crews as they were updated across the day. In the men’s squad the heavyweight men endured an unconventional run in to the head, being dealt a final blow on the day by an object hidden in the muddy waters of the Tyne. Remaining determined despite a waterlogged boat, they completed the race down the course still placing competitively within a high class category.
With a slightly less disrupted campaign, the lightweights showed their strength and entertained the spectators again. Aggressive steering in the quads between crews and the shallows, and Luca Nicolaou demonstrating his eligibility to race in the heavyweight crews should he be called up, the men picked up up silver in the lightweight four, returning to the water after lunch to pick up the gold and bronze in the lightweight quad, knocking a quality crew from Reading University off the top of the podium in a competitive category. These results saw 3 first years picking up medals in their first BUCS event for the university, and returning senior Rob Muscroft breaking his run of silvers ironically by switching to sculling for a change.
With the white caps breaking early on, the women’s squad put out a team most of which we in their first year with the club. With what they described as a bad row the lightweight quad picked up a silver medal to match last years performance, and picked up more points in the third division with a 4th place finish in the four, knocked out of the medals narrowly by Bristol. All in their first year, the championship quad had a great start to their race, fighting to maintain across the course as they came away with a 5th place just outside the points in one of the toughest womens categories at the event. These great results from BUCS Head placed us 6th in the Victor Ludorum (overall club placing from all events together).
With a taste for racing the novices that returned to Nottingham on Saturday weren’t done for the weekend, they headed to the clubhouse on Sunday to represent the university and race on home turf at the Head of the Trent. Racing over a longer course, nearly twice the length of the previous day, the crews put in great rows against local clubs to set them up for their next phase of training. The womens eight came away with a strong second place finish behind Lincoln after facing a number of challenges on the way down the course. In open categories the mens and womens coxed fours both picked up podium finishes behind experienced crews, giving them a taste of more racing before they do it again on the Tideway in a fortnight at Head of the River. They were all happy with their performances at the two events over the weekend.
A long and busy weekend for all those racing and supporting, and a great set of results on the board to build on as racing moves into the regatta season. Thank you to all those who helped support, the coaches keeping the crews on schedule and ensuring they were ready to perform on the water, the numerous members ferrying equipment around Tyne-side in the hectic boating area, and back home those of you who keep us running as a club as we aim to move higher at every event. It has been a testing few weeks with challenges for the equipment, coaches, and athletes, but we move on again to the Head of the River races, training camp, and the regatta season that kicks off with BUCS regatta after Easter.