It has been an exciting start of the season for the Women’s Squad this term; perhaps for the first time in many years we began the term with more than two VIIIs of keen and enthusiastic rowers. The first VIII now consists of experienced rowers from Australia, America and Sweden and throughout the whole squad there are some very promising 5k erg times which certainly will put us in good stead for the important head races next term. Unfortunately, the weather and various injuries, as is always the case with this sport particularly in Durham have limited our training. However, with a steady start at Tees Small Boats Head, we finished the term on a high with two boats placing well and a win at Senate Cup; we proved that snow storms are no obstacle. Overall, as we enter into next term where we will focus and prepare for Women’s Head on the Tideway in March, the squad looks strong. The freshers, many of whom have been trained up by DUBC are enthusiastic and more importantly particularly talented. They will be an excellent addition to the senior squad, which will continue to strengthen and hopefully enjoy some more water time, if the rain is a little less persistent over the coming months.
Tyne Small Boats Head
The men’s first IV of Adam Blackwell, George Durham, Paul Chambers and Ed Hawkins, coxed by Henrietta Niekirk, travelled to Tyne to race at the Tyne United Small Boats Head. The crew had a good race, establishing a strong rhythm early on and grinding down Tyne Rowing Club throughout the race. They overtook them coming into the final straight and made a strong push for home with 600 m to go, with the “let’s go hunting call” working a treat. They finished third in their category, but were the second fastest Durham college boat at the Head, losing out to John Snow by just eight seconds, and beating both of Hatfield IVs.
Tees Small Boats Head
Two men’s IVs travelled to Stockton to see if they could best John Snow on their own water. We took Master and borrowed a boat as the race was done in only one division, meaning boats could not be doubled up. Unfortunately the description of the borrowed boat as “wooden but still pretty good” turned out to be a bit optimistic, as it had minor leakage issues and one of the feet had come off. However the 2nd IV of Joel Holford, Alex Fraser, Joe Stone and James Hibbert managed to be the second fastest college 2nd IV of the day despite this, putting in a brave effort, coxed by Lucy Haley on her first trip to the Tees. The 1st IV of Adam Blackwell, George Durham, James Edholm and Ed Hawkins were steered superbly by Henrietta Niekirk, taking them to a victory over John Snow on their own river, and coming second to a strong Hatfield IV by only three seconds despite the cox-box cutting out half-way through.
We had an eventful day, to say the least. Turning up to the station we noticed the train after ours was cancelled and the one after that was delayed, so we would have to get this one or miss the race. Unfortunately, there were only three of us in the ticket office, and some frantic phone calls revealed only four more early birds on the other platform. We decided to wait to try and find out where our ninth crew member was after Mr Holford claimed to be limping to the station with severe muscle cramp in his leg. After the eighth missed call Mr Fraser informed us that he had in fact just got on the train, oblivious to the drama going on around him. We decided to let the four on the other platform who had already bought their tickets head to Newcastle with Mr Fraser to establish base camp, while we would hunt for alternative transport, having missed the train in question. Upon enquiring of the fare for a taxicab to Newcastle, the Men’s Captain tactfully decided to turn down the asked fee of £50 for five people to Newcastle and back, rather than swear at the Geordie gentleman on the other end of the telephone.
He then decided to head to the bus station to see how soon a motorised peasant wagon could carry us to our destination. When the future Mrs Elliott informed the Men’s Captain that she had an outing that she would have to miss to take the men’s squad to Newcastle, he decided that the women’s squad would not be able to function without her gentle catches and timely bladework and took the by now excited inaugural members of University College Motorised Day-Trip Society to live up to their name by going to Newcastle. Finally on their way, a minor setback occurred when the coxswain of the boat, a Miss Haley, having been directed to pick up the number for the boat, was met with a demand for one hundred and twenty eight pounds due to Tyne Rowing Club for the entry of the UCBC Women’s Squad, which despite scratching their entry, apparently still had to pay.
After several phone calls to the UCBC President, and several more attempted calls to the Secretary, the Men’s Captain took it upon himself to pay the aforementioned fee in order to let the men have their day in the sun. Alas, when they finally arrived at their destination, they found that despite indeed being in the Sun, it was not in fact hot, or even warm. Luke commented that it was actually quite chilly. Wrapped up warm, the eight finally graced the waters of the Tyne. A surprisingly uneventful row up followed, though the relaxed pre-race mood was quickly broken by the marshal’s calls “110 please move up….. please move up 110..….110 move up now!….. EIGHT!! MOVE!!!!” Finally under way, the eight had a good start to the race, settling into a long and hard rhythm dictated by UCBC’s very own Mr Adam Blackwell.
As the race progressed, the upstart schoolboys of Strathclyde Park Rowing Club on the valiant men’s first eight, so Miss Haley called a burst for twenty strokes. Confusion arose when she unwittingly called “Going on three, three, two, one” leading to some of the bow four members to start putting their gluteal muscles into overdrive before the rest of the crew, tiring them out without having much of an effect (according to spectators on the bank) However, the eight managed to hold the well-drilled SCP crew off for the first 3 km, before finally deciding to tactically let them go past and focus on rowing to a time, as the other crew was proving a minor distraction.
This however was not before the crew had managed to overtake a crew from the City of Sunderland, who had definitely been rowing for longer than 2 months, and therefore overtaking them was a hugely rewarding achievement. At the finish line, with local rivals Durham School bearing down on the eight, there was again confusion in the ranks, this time about where the finish lay. In their wisdom, the organisers had decided to move the finish line back 600m from its position the year before and at Tyne SBH which were rowed on the same course. Having gone hunting to the “finish”, the crew found that their energy was expended and they could not hold off the efforts of Durham School any longer, and were just pipped to the post. However, overall it was a fair performance, coming in fifth out of all the college crews.
The men’s squad put out two fours for this event, with super-sub Chris Saunders jumping in for Freshmen’s Captain Mike Yorke who was busy securing his future career down in the big city. Unfortunately Chris’ four was disadvantaged even before the race got underway when their rudder was knocked out by a badly placed log. The “Big Dog” four of Chris Saunders, Alex Fraser, Joel Holford and Joe Stone however did not let this stop them competing and despite several near-collisions with the bank bravely fought on to finish the course and put in a promising time.
The four of Adam Blackwell, George Durham, James Edholm and Ed Hawkins had unfortunately not trained together since their strong performances at Tyne and Tees, and so had a disappointing race. The fours’ spirits were cheered however by the news that since the downstream arch of Elvet bridge was still closed to traffic, they would be able to enjoy the snow for the next forty minutes in peace, aside from the occasional interaction to push off other boats. UCBC Acting Communications Officer George Durham commented that this was what the spirit of Christmas was all about.
Overall the men’s squad has had a promising start, with large numbers of freshers ready to take on the challenge of attempting to compete in the Senior Squad. Next term sees the squad take on all-comers at the Head of the River Race, with hopes high for an even better performance than last year.
Newly selected Men’s Captain, James Edholm, began organising a repeat of last year’s hugely successful Row the Thames trip. He set up a group on Facebook (www.facebook.com) inviting people to take part in the trip which was “…this time with planning”. A surge of 26 people stated their intention to attend so Tom Elliott began the search for a quad.
Whitgift School Boat Club’s Haling Park had just come back from a refurbishment so UCBC offered to unpack it, rig it and take it on a 6 day test drive. Oliver Brown (who was on his year abroad) enjoyed tinkering with the boat throughout the week to make it rig-able and steerable. Daddy Line invented an ingenious system to attach sculling blades to a roof-rack and with that UCBC’s finest 8 sculling blades were brought down from Durham.
After meeting at 0900 on Day 1, Andrew Hutson insisted on wasting at least two hours before we left. He said: “faffing is one of the main reasons I come on these trips – please don’t leave it out of the itinerary this time”. We left at around 1100 and the crew comprising of Oliver Brown, Andrew Hutson, James Hibbert, Thomas Martell and Emily Perrin set off at a pace. Tom Elliott and Harriet Line went off to arrange the lunch stop.
Will Hall-Smith decided to arrive a day early at lunchtime and immediately began criticising the trip – notably the lack of space in the car for him. Olly Brown, Tom Elliott and Emily Perrin went on ahead to organise our overnight accommodation (which, in the eyes of the rowers, was seamlessly done).
The next day was the first long day, as Tim Long was joining us at lunchtime. The 70 km stretch from Eton up to Wallingford had Thomas Martell nervous with excitement, and Will Hall-Smith increasingly eager to leave. We met Huw Jenkins at Maidenhead RC, where he showed us a fantastic UCBC Jumper and chased us upstream in his single.
Lunch was had at Upper Thames RC in Henley, where Oliver Brown cleverly phoned someone to arrange our accommodation for the final night. Tim’s arrival presented a logistical issue: Harriet Line’s already small car was struggling for space and an extra person was problematic. Tom Elliott cleverly decided to move all the overnight kit to the finishing point at Wallingford before picking up James, Olly and Henley Bear who had been left in Henley. Will and Andy were leaving that day at Reading, so arrival more than an hour after Tom Elliott ‘predicted’, they were less than impressed to hear that their overnight kit was at Wallingford…
We reached Wallingford after a spectacular final 10 km in moonlight and ate fish and chips with the Club Diserens. Oliver Brown went to sleep in the corner very loudly.
After having too many people on Day 2, the Thames Gods misunderstood our wishes and left us with only five people after Emily and Tom Martell fled the expedition. This led to some coxless sculling until Abingdon, where Jess Marriott joined us. After an hour waiting at the agreed lunch stop we carried on for 1500m to find where Harriet Line had set up lunch. We arrived at St. Edward’s School boathouse, our final stop for upstream, by late afternoon and Oliver Brown decided to fix the steering while Sheep and Henley Bear looked on.
After last year’s antics Tim Long decided that we should spend the evening in the local pub, where Oliver Brown made a friend (not like before). The rest day was a more relaxed affair, on a morning milk run, while Tim Long directed us to the nearest Tesco, Tom Elliott was heard to say: “it’s ok, the petrol goes off today – we need to use it up”. However, his later idea to drive into Oxford City Centre was met by concerned looks: a taxi driver in the city informed us that we were probably doomed as we’d driven down the wrong road.
We spent the day gettting to Oxford, watching the carnival and the film Ted (at Henley Bear’s request). We left Sheep in the car as he was too young. After the film we picked up Chris Wall and Nick Bailey-Wood before sitting on the bus until well after our stop.
The first downstream day was a great success. We had 80 km to travel but the stream was significantly stronger than last year and we had four fresh legs. After a chilly start Tom and Olly began dismantling the camp. While sifting through the rubbish Olly made a shocking discovery. They left immediately and proceeded to Abingdon. Olly took the car on a route which included a 5p toll charge, which angered Tom. At Abingdon we returned Jess Marriot’s saucepan and proceeded on our merry way into Henley, where we got a 1% discount from our favourite Chinese Takeaway in Henley.
Another cold start met us in Henley with the view obscured by fog. We decided to faff while the fog cleared and Chris Wall moaned at the cold. We celebrated Paralympic Success by rowing past Dorney where Chris clearly didn’t like Nick and Tom’s conversation topic: “on the next stretch can you not talk because the technique got very bad”. We lunched at Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club and finished the final 20 km with a 5 km piece along the Molesey stretch. After a clean-down we packed up and dispersed into the night.
Thanks must go once again to all those who assisted us on this successful trip – as was the motto for last year: “It always pans out, we’ve never known a time when it doesn’t”.
Oliver Brown has offered to spend his year abroad researching locations for UCBC’s Furthest Longest Ever Outing…
The newly elected exec decided to put together an elite scratch mixed VIII. To counteract the torque of the supremely powerful women making up four of the rowers in the boat, the Men’s and Women’s Captains decided to put in two tandems in. This worked well in the numerous training sessions the crew had before the race; however on the day the windy conditions and fast stream meant that the Castle VIII did not start straight and had an unfortunate collision with a wall early on in the race. However they recovered well, and made up over 2 ½ lengths on the opposing Butler VIII before the finishing line, placed only 1k after the start, robbed them of victory.
The Bailey Women’s VIII were keen to prove themselves against The Hill, but despite strong performances from Tilly King, Emily Owen, Harriet Line, Beth Orrell and Caroline Persson, the girls had the narrowest of losses and were just pipped to the post by The Hill VIII. Sources close to The Hill say that The Hill VIII had been cheating, by actually having training sessions before Race Day. The Hill rowers would not comment on these accusations, but the Bailey VIII had the moral victory of the day.
Next the Bailey Men’s VIII, consisting of the technical rower Paul Chambers, the experienced James Edholm, the strong James Styles and some part-time rowers from Hatfield, took to the river to take on The Hill VIII. Due to some unfortunate cross-winds and the Hatfield rowers not pulling their weight, The Hill VIII unfortunately bested the brave Bailey boys, but it was not an easy victory. The rematch next year will undoubtedly see the Bailey Men’s and Women’s VIIIs triumph against The Hill.
The inaugural Bumps 4+ race was cancelled, apparently due to lack of interest, despite UCBC being prepared to send two fours. Rumours that DCR’s shoddy management skills were to blame are completely unfounded and should be ignored.
The first race for the new exec was thwarted by the weather, which continued to strike shortly before regattas. June in the North East was a month of good weather during the first few days of the week, followed by downpours on Thursday nights and Fridays, which turned the rivers into torrents ready for the weekend’s racing. York Regatta was sadly cancelled.
This year was sadly heavily influenced by poor weather. Five races were completely cancelled, and several others were affected by the adverse conditions. Nonetheless UCBC had, as Tom Elliott said, “a consolidating season” where large numbers of people were inducted into the world of UCBC while we still remained a dominant force in college rowing. At one point we were running the largest boat club in Durham which, as Durham is a leading light in student rowing, is no mean feat. Charlie Jones said: “I like to think that last year the exec expanded the club rapidly and consequently somewhat chaotically. This year we have tried to patch up any gaps left in the system and I think both years have left the club with a very firm base for the future.” As an exec we wish the incoming exec and the club as a whole all the best for the future and will observe with beady eyes as the club progresses and hopefully continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
It is important to remember that UCBC exists to allow all college members the opportunity to either learn or develop rowing as a sport, not to be ‘elitist’ or unfairly selective and above all to allow everyone to have fun. As a club we are usually very good at having fun, and this is something to definitely continue into the future. Remember to do a lot of silly things but don’t do anything stupid and definitely don’t take yourselves too seriously – that’s how you stop winning.
UCBC Exec 2011-12
As the week went on after Hexham, the weather took a turn for the worse and by the weekend there was a strong stream flowing along the race course. The race organisers took the hit and cancelled the Saturday regatta. UCBC and FCBC members met at the boat in the afternoon and decided that a barbeque was a considerably better idea than going to Castle Day. Traditionally Durham Regatta’s first day culminates in a race between the old boys of Floreat Castellum BC and UCBC’s top VIII. FCBC is a fantastic organisation – it was created in 2002 by the 2002 & 2003 leavers. It exists to support UCBC and to have fun. As a college we are very fortunate to have such an organisation supporting us. There are many who do not and it is always a pleasure to host them.
Charles Jones, in his last act of Presidency went to check the river situation. He decided that the river was sufficiently safe for us to have the race, so long as it took place on the Minute Stretch opposed to the usual Racecourse stretch, as large branches had made Elvet Bridge a more challenging obstacle. Happy with this option, both crews boated from the landing stage and readied themselves for the off.
The Old Boy’s boat was almost entirely FCBC, containing David Shaw, Ibs Barclay, Paul Chambers, Rob Brownell, Chris Saunders, Martin Murphy, Tom Martell and Ryan Martin. FCBC were coxed by Megan Bell. The UCBC boat contained Sam Diserens, James Edholm, Oliver Brown, Adam Spring, Brad Knights, Jonathan Bowers, Charlie Jones, and Tom Elliott. UCBC were coxed by Brenna Fielding
After a pedestrian start, UCBC slowly clawed back distance and finished the 500m course 3/4 of a length ahead. Rob Brownell said on finishing the race: “Well, I’m glad to see that UCBC can still beat us. It will be a sad day when we turn up and beat a crew at the peak of their fitness.” New Men’s Captain James Edholm sneakily put on the Men’s Captain’s Jacket, which Rob Brownell was pleased to see had continued to be passed down to successive Men’s Captains over the years. We made our way up to College and after Oliver Brown assessed the odds of Sunday’s regatta being cancelled to be 76-1 we enjoyed the finishing stages of Castle Day and an evening in Klute.
Oliver was correct in his assumption – Sunday’s regatta was cancelled due to excessive river flow.
In previous years the entry tactic for Hexham has traditionally been one of quantity over quality. This year was no exception and as his fingers stretched out in a final plea for glory, Men’s Captain Tom Elliott ordered a 50 seat coach to transport UCBC en masse to Hexham – the Henley of the North-North East. The evening of the 2nd was also Castle’s annual Bierfest event, now disguised under the title of ‘The Bavarian Cultural Exchange’. Expected dress code for this event is a crude imitation of German Lederhosen, so the order was put out over the emails that the dress code for Hexham Royale was: ‘Bierfest and Lycra’. The image of a 50-strong coach turning up with UCBC all dressed for ‘Sausage-fest’ was almost unimaginable.
Sadly the only people to adhere to this dress code at 0630 on the 2nd were Tom Elliott, Jonathan Bowers, Elliot Grogan and Michael Yorke. This says a lot about their character and mental well-being.
For once, UCBC arrived early and were met by a desolate HRR Enclosure. There had been a traffic accident on the only road in and UCBC had got in ahead. President Charles Jones said: “This turn of events neatly sums up Tom Elliott’s Men’s Captaincy – he has yet again managed to tip-toe across the hot coals of failure and somehow, against all odds, to some extent, deliver.” The regatta was delayed as everyone arrived so there was plenty of time to play a round of MTB. The results were later announced by the race commentator to the delight of Oliver Brown.
Past UCBC President-Men’s Captain Combo Will Hall-Smith and Thomas Martell had set aside Hexham Royale from their hectic work schedules and they formed part of this year’s ‘Novelty Entry’. The Mixed Novice Coxed Quad had been something of a talking point, with not all club members in favour for fear of it bringing the club’s untainted name into disrepute.
The racing kicked off around two hours late and Hexham operated as only Hexham do: find your opposition and race them. This policy made the day’s racing finish bang on time – no fuss, no ridiculously accurate race start times and a much more sporting attitude displayed by opponents.
UCBC’s Men entered the following crews:
Nov 4+; Nov 4+; IM2 2x; IM2 2-; IM3 8+; IM3 8+; Nov 2x; Mix Nov 4x+; Nov 8+; IM2 4+
UCBC’s Women entered:
Nov 8+; Nov 8+; IM3 4+; IM3 8+; Nov 4+; IM3 2x
In all it was a successful day for the club, and everyone had a lot of fun. Sadly the IM2 2- did not win as Adam Spring and Oliver Brown were scared of falling in. Our Elite Novice IV (the most committed of all the squad) deservedly got to the semi-finals but unfortunately lost to a good Collingwood IV. The Nov 8+ (who went into Hexham City Centre and bought racing baseball caps), went all the way to their final and demolished their opposition. On the girls side, their 1st VIII convincingly won their Novice category.
Last year we won the College Victor Ludorum Trophy for the most number of college race wins. This year we matched last year’s total of race wins, but unfortunately were beaten by two points by Collingwood. The only solution for this is to enter even more races next year…