While the rest of the university teams battled with Lancaster at Roses, UYBC and Lancaster Boat Club were conspicuous in their absence, opting instead to race at the BUCS regatta over the same weekend. Aiming to build on their successes from Head season last term, the crews of the UYBC have all undergone gruelling training weeks during the holidays to transfer from the lengthier time-trial-style Head reason races, to the shorter regatta races (side by side racing). As BUCS is such a large event, racing encompasses the whole weekend. The UYBC had crews racing on Sunday and Monday, which meant camping in the cold for one or two nights for some unfortunate and extremely dedicated members.
First to race were the novice boys on Sunday morning. They had to compete in a time trial to get though to their first heat. The crew consisted of Freddie Dawes, Richard Nixon, James Finn, Sam Agass, Edd Talbot, Tim Lowdon, Karl Slater and Tom Whitehead with Cox Ellie Donaldson, who with her knowledge as a rower last year has been able to coach the boys to a standard not seen so high from a York novice men’s crew for quite some time. Even given this, the boys just missed out on qualifying for their over-subscribed first heat by just a few seconds. The high winds and sea-like conditions of the early morning making this, undoubtedly, the worst conditions of the day.
Following this, the senior men’s crew of Dan Steele, John Appleton, Oscar Neilson and Tom Bulpitt with Cox Ashley Haycock approached their time trial with a light trepidation. Their extremely light new boat, usually an advantage, could get thrown around quite badly in such conditions and they had to qualify in the top 24 of 60 crews. The crew needn’t have worried, they qualified comfortably in 12th place, and as an added bonus totally beat Lancaster’s three crews, none of which qualified for the heats. In their first heat they were sitting comfortably in third place, with the first three of six crews qualifying for the semi-finals, but an impressive push in the last 500m got them into an easy second place, where they almost took first.
The Novice Boys crew at the BUCS Regatta in Nottingham. Photograph courtesy UYBC.
Captain Dan Steele later stated that by the end Cox Ash ‘was just incoherently screaming in enthusiasm as we were coming up very fast on first and just missed out by a metre or so’. In their semi-final they faced much bigger and richer clubs than the UYBC, but went into it with their heads held high and came out with a very honourable fifth place, only very narrowly missing out on BUCS points. The day’s racing for the senior men can be summed by this quote from a very proud men’s captain – Dan Steele: ‘I was also very scared for our equipment as our man mountain John in Three seat had some serious bend in his blade when he put his power down in the final 100m!’ The senior men left BUCS on a higher footing than in many previous years, and look forward to the season ahead.
With the bar set high, next was the turn of the senior women. They were fortunate enough not to have a time trial and so prepared for their first heat, which after much change, came out as quite a good draw for them. All their hard work and practise 2ks in their training week a few weeks ago paid off and they qualified ahead of the University of London in second place, feeling confident for the semi-final. Captain Sophie Mottram and ex-rower Charlotte Macdonald cheered the girls on from the side where they witnessed two extremely exciting races, with both being photo finishes. Luck was not on their side when their semi-final came round, after a strong first half of the race, the battery in the Cox box failed, leaving the bow (back) 4 people unable to hear Cox Ngaio’s calls for pushes. Nevertheless, the girls kept their heads and rowed their hardest to miss out on the final by just over a second. Captain Sophie was particularly proud of the crew’s newest member, Laura Macfarlane. Laura joined as a novice in October but was recognised by Sophie to have talent early on and through some serious hard work on both parts, Laura made it into the senior women’s first boat. Considering this was her first regatta race she kept her cool when things went wrong and earned the respect of the rest of her crew.
The Senior Women’s Crew at Nottingham. Photograph courtesy UYBC.
If there was a prize for the most dedicated crew this weekend, it would go to the novice women. Their race was not until the Monday, however they camped through two nights of strong winds and rain and a day of supporting everyone else before it was their turn to race. The crew of Becca Kay, Miriam Moester, Tasha Behan, Sara Rider, Marie Mills, Leanne Good, Steph Jones and Cesca Baguley with Cox Ellie Cooper had set backs even before they got in the boat for their first regatta. One crew member dropped out last minute, resulting in Cesca catching a last minute train to Nottingham to be the hero of the day. Considering this, the scratch crew comfortably qualified through their time trial although unfortunately due to their race being started before York were correctly lined up, they did not manage to qualify through to the semi final.
This weekend has set a very high bar for all crews for the up-coming season so watch this space!
Senior Women’s crew: Alex Mahan, Charlotte Bentley, Hannah Kirton, Emily Harrington, Rosy Temple, Becca Robinson, Laura Macfarlane and Lara Wainwright. Cox – Ngaio Simpson.