Whilst some crews managed to achieve success upon the Tyne, BUCS Head was found to be a mixed bag overall, with unplanned substitutions, unfamiliar boats and unfortunate weather conditions adversely scuppering the chances the remaining crews from performing to the best of their ability. Regardless, we reveled in the success we did achieve (with the novices fully committing to post-race celebrations on Saturday night) and resolved to learn from the shortcomings of the weekend to make sure we bring it for UH Head!
Men’s Novice VIII
"Before the race had started, we sat in the freezing gust of winds and looked our competitors on the left, failing to fathom how any of them could be novices and causing our hearts to sink deeper than the W2 boat. This was reminiscent of our race against King’s during Winter Sprints, but on a much bigger scale – we knew tragedy lay ahead. Starting 9th on the course as UCL A (‘arrogant medics’), our captain boosted our morale by warning us that “we would get overtaken at some point” and that “we had no chance of winning”. But it had not even crossed our minds that we would have a major crab only 2 seconds into the race. Well, that is exactly what happened! Fully knowing that we had messed up – big time – we froze with hopelessness and despair as did our boat came to a halt. We could only watch as UWE went past us with a grin. I could feel it burn into my soul.
Only the day before, Will had asked how much faster we would go if we didn’t have a cox? I soon found this question answered, when, upon this race, I realised their importance within the boat. We were suddenly revived by the sounds of Hannah, screaming with calmness and encouragement, calling “power 10s” and telling us to “empty our wells”. However, we did have 3 more major crabs that resulted in being overtaken by 3 more boats – but this did not matter! Eventually, we made it to the finish line.
We were determined to win with hard work, and in the end we came out at the top, securing our place as the best medical school in the country at BUCS Head in Novice Men division (edit: we actually came 23rd out of 24th). Bring on UH Head!" - Swopnil Gurung, Bow
Women's Novice VIII Boat A
"The journey to the BUCS competition was a long one, filled with a myriad of challenges set to test our mettle and build us up for the big day. From 2k trials to ergs to practice pieces spanning a more than healthy portion of the Thames to the long, grueling, cramped 14:30 train up to Newcastle, every challenge was met with optimism and a determination to put our best foot forward.
On the race day, the winds were forceful and the water was choppy, but spirits remained high as the early glow of morning sunlight basked the landscape with an ethereal light that promised good fortunes and positive expectations. With feet set, blades in rigors and all eight in the boat, we rowed up getting our first taste of the River Tyne’s force and fury. Even as choppy waves caught our blades, our focus was high as we rowed, with the pride and grace that one could only expect of ‘Kel’s Belles’ up the River Tyne. Once into position we waited for our turn to race, maneuvering – with Kelly’s expertise coxing – between the less intellectually gifted rowing boats that threatened to capsize our boat.
At last the moment came for us to race, we began to spin our boat and built up our speed to race pace up to 33 strokes per minute. ‘Legs one, legs two, legs three….’ came the call that saw the formidable force of Kel’s Belles rear up in all its RUMS glory and send the boat flying down the river. Each stroke saw the WNA boat attacking the rough tide of the River Tyne, getting the boat closer and closer to the finish line. The halfway mark reached, each girl maintained the focus on technique, the separations, the engaged cores, the tap downs that would make all the difference in the minutes and seconds that would mark our BUCS head position. As the pain seeped through our muscles and the finish line loomed within our reach, the uplifting calls of Middle, Middle, Middle, gave us the boost to push our boat over the finish line and into 23rd place. With our BUCS achievements secured under our belts, we look forward to next week, where we hope to smash UH Head and bring home the win for RUMSBC." - Yemi Talabi, Seat 2
Women's Novice VIII Boat B
"Hearing the horror stories the seniors candidly shared about the infamous rowing conditions of the river Tyne, we were understandably apprehensive as we arrived in Newcastle. Encouragingly, on race day, we were welcomed by a shining sun and not too cold weather. Taking this as a good omen, we paddled our way towards the start line full of optimism.
It was during this paddle that we discovered that the seniors had not been lying to us. On the river we were met by a strong and freezing wind, choppy waters and waves that flooded the boat. Very encouraging though was the fact that thus far no one had yet crabbed! Not even our very own Novice Captain Nicola, who was forced to sub in at bow (despite her past as stroke) when we did not have enough rowers to compete with.
After a very long marshal, where the wind kept trying to push us against the wall, we made friends with the University of West England boat and our cox Greg entertained us with his singing, before eventually setting off with a really good race start. The results of all the hours spent both on and off the water training shined through as we kept up speed and power throughout the race, only being overtaken by two boats. Still this kept us motivated to only push harder to keep other boats from catching up to us, although this may have led us to rush up the slide a bit too much and cause Greg to become exasperated with us in the middle of the race. But in the end we did ourselves proud with a time of 12.54s, better than UCL’s own 2nd team!" - Federica Ezennia, Seat 4
Men’s Second VIII
"M2 were already prepared for a less than ideal performance at BUCS Head, with my own health being in something of a dire state and our esteemed captain of Novices being drafted in in place of an absent Timo. Prior to the weekend Matt had promised that he would 'take it easy' at over the weekend, although it remained to be confirmed whether this was in reference to Saturday night's celebrations or the race itself - a query that was quickly answered upon a cursory glance at the snapchat story on Sunday morning. Nevertheless Matt stayed true to his heritage and failed to be bested by a few beverages, turning up in a better state than many of the freshers (despite youth being on their side).
However, things continued to stray further from 'ideal' when it was revealed one of our own would have to be surrendered to M1, after a purulent finger forced Luke drop out, and thus we bid farewell to Ben Southgate and welcomed Alex Bloom into our boat.
When we did finally make it onto the water to face a shortened course, we agreed to red-lining it throughout safe in the knowledge we had nothing to lose and any ground made would be an extreme embarrassment to other crews. Upon setting off we managed to hold our rate well at 32s/m, but a number of large waves did their utmost to disrupt our rhythm, meaning we failed to get the desired send on the boat. Continuing with steady progress in spite of this, we found the momentum we had built over the race halted towards the end when a loose seat resulted in a crab, leaving us motionless but for the action of the waves. Endeavouring to recover from this blow, we pushed hard against the heavy water but it was too late to make up the necessary ground. Unsurprisingly, we placed last, but victory is sweetest when you have known defeat, so we can only hope this makes UH Head feel all the better." - Adam Jones, Seat 2
Men’s First VIII
Women’s Second VIII
"W2 had been feeling apprehensive about BUCS, due to a combination of only having had one previous outing as a whole crew, and the horror stories of our bow seat, who has had a couple of very difficult races on the Tyne. We were prepared for anything: the freezing northern temperatures, the rough waters from the Saturday, even colliding with a Men’s VIII. And yet it all went smoothly. Perhaps the only thing we hadn’t prepared for was our cox having a pre-race wee over the side of the boat while marshalling (but we all admired his dedication to minimise the weight in the boat).
As the race started we settled in to a good rhythm behind our new stroke, and came away strongly. We spent most of the rave making gains on the boat in front of us, though never quite caught them, finishing a respectable 34/44th. Though we ended strongly, we all felt we had not quite emptied the tank. We look forward to racing UH this Sunday with a crew that we have trained in and we intend to leave it all out on the water this time – medal medal medal!" - Millie Walker, Seat 6
Women’s First VIII
"UH Dress rehearsal aka BUCS Head. A race that, it can be fair to say, a fair few of our club lament. Alas, with UH Head only a week away, this was definitely massively going to be the time we proved to Rich that we were angry, aggressive, full of fire, hostile, frustrated, aggressive choppers.
Sunday came around and I must say you couldn’t miss the excitement in everyone’s eyes. Glittering, coruscating in fact. Thankfully, marshalling was significantly warmer than last year. Although it was shrewdly observed that we were the only crew not in long sleeves. But this just immediately propelled us with a confidence that we were racing püssi like crews. With some enormous bay parking tekkers from Preena, it wasn’t soon before we were off. Thirty seconds before starting – DISASTER STRUCK! We still weren’t up to race pace due to a minor footplate malfunction which left us rowing in sixes with 10 seconds to go before the start. But these big boy ladies got us up to 32 in a mere stroke!! It was more a state of mind even. Be thirty two…and it was done. Know thyself. Our 30 seconds at 32 felt super speedy and light, like rowing on Vaseline or another hydrophobic emollient cream. We settled into a nice chunky rhythm and with all nine lives remaining we began the Way of the Warrier!
Now you might think this would be a dramatic tale, with lives lost on every choppy wave, off stroke and a heroic effort to take us across the line with one last life. BUT YOU’D BE WRONG! Because we are frickin Tideway RUMSBC women. and every cheesy chip smelling wave that his us, we just hit back even harder. There were times in the third quarter where I wasn’t sure if we were in Newcastle or Utah.... just kidding my eyes were in the boat! But jokes aside, a strong overtake in this section and Eimear’s Irish wizardry let the mitochondria of the boat on and pushed us away. The final straight was in sight but we were dismayed to hear that we still had 5k to go according to Preena. Despite this, we tried to keep it as together as one for the last stretch and with the sweet sweet cry of middle middle middle as we approached the end, we managed a big ass accidental overtake - the best kind. Some dodgy marshalling and precarious boat handling later, we were done - 9 lives remaining and ready to SMASH UH HEAD. We know what we need to improve on and we’re ready to get massively Turnt in this final week to get us those tasty medals.
Shout out to our baby the Wintech - we love and miss you, we’ll be back with you soon." Nadia Eden, Seat 7