University Of Nottingham Boat Club, Nottingham, NG2 5FA

About Us

UoNBC, founded in 1892, is a highly popular society within the University well known for its tough training regime and lively socials. The club is renowned for its gold blades and provides comprehensive access to the rowing world, from those who have never rowed before to those aiming for the next Olympics.

Our boathouse, located on the River Trent, has ergos, dynamic ergos, static bikes, a swingulator pair and a core/stretching area. As a UoN Sports member, you will also have access to the new £40M David Ross Sports Village which opened in September 2016 which includes facilities such

as spin rooms, physiotherapy services, and a Strength and Conditioning High Performance Zone which the club can exclusively use. We are also offered various nutrition and psychology talks from the University.  You will also have access to the Jubilee Sports Centre and to the swimming pool at David Ross Sports Village.

The boat house is ideally located with access to the River Trent, as well as the national watersports centre at Holme Pierrepoint.  A high quality fleet of boats along with fabulous facilities ensures that UoNBC’s oarsmen have great opportunities to succeed.

UoNBC’s Coaches

John McKirdy

Head Coach / Lead Senior Women’s Coach

John has been involved in the sport for over 40 years and brings to the women’s squad a wealth of knowledge and experience. A successful rower himself, John joined Derby Rowing Club in 1975 and went from strength to strength. He competed at the prestigious

 Henley Royal Regatta on a number of occasions for Derby Rowing Club and Nottingham Union Rowing Club in both the Thames and Wyfold Challenge Cups, and in 1979 achieved a gold medal in a coxless pair at Nottingham International Regatta.

John was invited to coach at UoNBC in 2009, initially looking after the women’s senior squad, achieving numerous head and regatta wins, alongside gaining crew and sculling international medals at the South East Asian games, with 1 gold, 1 silver and two bronze medals.

His position of Head Coach was taken on in 2014, he immediately set up an impressive program for both the Senior Men and Senior Women’s squads which has already seen an impressive positive turn in results, over all levels.

Tim Brearley

Lead Senior Men’s Coach

Tim started rowing at Derby Rowing Club at the age of 15, quickly reach Elite level and went on to win at Reading, Nottingham International Regatta and gained silver and bronze medals at Ghent Regatta.

After taking a break from the sport for work and family life, he returning to rowing in 2002 as a Master with success at Henley Masters, British Masters and the World Masters. Tim quickly became interested in coaching, working with David O’Sullivan at Derby Rowing Club to develop both junior and senior crews.

3 years ago, Tim moved over to coach at UoNBC, working jointly with David O’Sullivan to develop the Senior Men’s group. This period has seen the men’s squad moving from a very small group, to being the current British Champions in 8s and 4s, for the leading Non-High Performance University. Crews coached most recently have regularly achieved wins in pairs and fours in at Nottingham, The Metropolitan, Reading, and Marlow regattas. They have gained BUCS medals, and European University representation including the current champions.


David O’Sullivan

Senior Men’s Coach

David O’Sullivan rowed at an elite level with Derby Rowing Club gaining Under 23 silver positions at Nottingham International Regatta before moving to coaching within the club environment. He has successfully coached men, women, and Junior’s at all levels from Novice to Elite. This has included developing athletes to progress to winning at the National Championships; including record breaking performances, and National selection in the Junior single, and finals in Senior Events at Women’s Henley Regatta.

Working jointly with Tim Brearley he lead the development of the men’s section for 3 years. During this year David has slightly reduced his availability and so has switched roles to support Tim as lead coach.

Rob Yates

Senior Women’s Coach

Rob began his rowing career at Loughborough University where he learnt to rowing and progressed through their programme ending up in the top 8 competing in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. After leaving University, he began training as a teacher and joined the newly formed Nottingham Rowing Club where he continued full time training alongside his teaching commitments  over the next 7 years. During this time Rob achieved success such as medals at the National Championships and competing multiple times at Henley including reaching the final in the Wyfold Challenge Cup in 2011 and competing in the Ladies Plate.

He began coaching at Loughborough Boat Club where he helped develop novice and intermediate rowers and has since been recruited this year to coach the Women’s squad at the University of Nottingham.


Ray Smith

Novice Men’s Coach

Ray started rowing in 1977 for Nottingham Britannia Rowing Club before joining Nottingham Country Rowing Association in 1981. He achieved success through his rowing career such as winning national medals and racing at international level. After taking time off between 1994-2000 he returned to race at masters and won prestigious events such as Henley Master, National Championships and World Masters.

Ray is now coaching our Novice Men at the University of Nottingham and his aim is to make them the top freshers in the country.


Salome Sanchez

Novice Women’s Coach

Salome started rowing in France 3 years before coming to University, predominantly sculling gaining performances such as finishing in the top 10 at French Small Boats Championships as a Junior and French Cup winner in a 4x. Joining the Uni in 2014 she began her sweeping career with a 13th place at WeHORR and reaching the final at Henley Womens regatta in her firsr year at university and a winning two gold BUCS medals in her second year. She began coaching the Novice girls last year (3rd Year) which was her first step in her coaching career and looks forward to coaching agin this year with a new group of girls.


Laurens van der Zwan

Assistant Novice Coach

Laurens started rowing in 2009 for G.S.R Aegir in the Netherlands where he quickly got selected for the lightweight freshers eight where in his first season he won the freshers championship. In his second year he decided to stop rowing to allow him to focus on his studies, however he says that this was the biggest mistake so came straight back into it before having to take time out of the water due to tendonitis in his fingers.

Laurens began coaching in 2012 where he coached the novice men at his university in the Netherlands where they achieved success such as winning the University 4+ in the equivalent to BUCS. On arrival in Nottingham in 2016 he contacted the University of Nottingham where he then worked with Salome Sanchez to coach the Novice Women and now continues to work with us with his main focus being on the Womens novice and intermediate crews.


Issy Walker

Assistant Novice Coach

Issy started rowing at Tiffin Schools Boat Club where she rowed for 6 years. Whilst she was there she was captain of boat for 3 years. Due to an ongoing illness that arose whilst training for national schools regatta last year, Issy has decided to take a step back from competing and has decided to coach instead. She has been coaching since February at Tiffin and now joins our coaching team here in Nottingham. She also used to run lunchtime indoor rowing sessions during her A-levels so brings across experience for indoor rowing. Issy is a first year medic who has also been sailing on the international circuit.