World Rowing University Regatta
Following the success of last summer, the university was invited again to compete in Xi’an, China. This time the organisers had gained partnership with World Rowing and the Chinese Rowing Association to boost the status and support of the event. Though the 3rd Kunming Lake Famous International University Regatta, this was to be the 1st World Rowing Universities Regatta. Invited crews included a host of domestic universities, returning international universities such as Yale, Oxford, and Goethe of Frankfurt, and newcomers such as Milan, Zurich, and St. Petersburg. Importantly a big step this year was the introduction of international women’s teams as previously only Chinese universities sent crews. Though a smaller pool than the men’s group this year while the event builds its profile, Nottingham received invites for both a men’s and women’s crew.
The aim of the event is to stimulate rowing in China at a school and university level, while also displaying the sport and international universities in the historically significant city. The Eastern end of the Silk Road, one of the ancient capitals of the country, and undergoing an economic revival since the turn of the century, the city promotes it’s culture, industries, and education. The venue also holds historical ties to the sport, with Kunming Lake once being the location of choice for training of the Chinese navy during the Han Dynasty.
With such energy and support around the event and the city, there was a change in the structure of the itinerary over last year. This time the cultural exchange activities were focused into the start of the trip with a visit to a local school and hearing from the local government. A training day was put aside for crews to set up boats for the regatta and familiarise themselves with the course and the conditions, with temperatures rising to around 40 degrees each day. The racing would run through time trials in both categories, a series of two heats that would be followed by an elimination of crews before the quarter finals for the men and semis for the women (fewer women’s crews to eliminate), and ultimately into the finals day. All of this over three days set the event up for some packed days of racing entertaining the crowds.
In the women’s event the crew set themselves up well topping the table in the time trial just a fraction ahead of Goethe University (Frankfurt) and proceeding through the stages as one of the favourites for the final. Eventually they raced a rather European final on the Sunday, moving out early from the start to take a lead that they would all the way to the line, earning them the win and being the first international women’s crew to claim the cup for the event. Their campaign was a confident three days of racing, displaying their fitness from the year, and though coming together late before the regatta, their ability to combine well with each other after a season across multiple disciplines.
With some history in the men’s event for international crews, the competition had moved on from last year, both in the quality of the returning crews (Shanghai and Frankfurt), and in the newcomers (Milan and Zurich). The increased quality and extended racing schedule to saw a respectable 5th place picked up by the men’s eight, entertaining the crowds in their final with one of the most hotly contested races of the series.
Returning to the UK after a thoroughly enjoyable event for those involved, the club looks forward to returning in the future to defend one title and challenge for the other as the competition increases again.