BUCS Head: an oarsome performance

NUBC Blue Star took to the Tyne again to take on the country's best in the BUCS 4s and 8s Head. Toby Bryant was our man at Tyne United RC:

Toby Bryant
6th March 2017
Stroke to victory: Newcastle were a step above the competition all weekend. Image: Al Johnston Photography

Whilst Stan Calvert fever gripped the University last week there was no time for Newcastle University’s rowers to lose their focus.

Whilst Stan Calvert fever gripped the University last week there was no time for Newcastle University’s rowers to lose their focus.

The Boat Club had enjoyed success over Northumbria University in mid-February, but had no time for celebrations with the annual BUCS Head taking place on February 26th. The competition was co-hosted by NUBC and Tyne Amateur Rowing Club, who are positioned just across the river from the Blue Star.

1st place for the women’s intermediate 8+

Sadly, the novice racing on the Saturday had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions but, on the Sunday, Intermediate and Champions crews from over 40 different universities took to the water determined to overcome the challenging conditions. Nonetheless, NUBC conquered the wind, and conquered their competition too.

The morning’s Division 1 started with the men’s Champ Quads, as Newcastle finished in third place, 14 seconds ahead of sculling specialists Reading University, with Imperial College taking gold.

The men’s Champ Coxed and Coxless Fours soon followed the quads, adding a bronze and a silver to the Boat Club’s medal haul, with Edinburgh and Durham taking gold respectively.

A young men’s Lightweight Four showcased their potential to claim another third, a comfortable 21 seconds ahead of UWE in fourth, but not challenging first placed Nottingham or second placed Durham who were separated by a mere 0.3 seconds, nearly 20 seconds ahead of NUBC. The young Intermediate Quad picked up yet another bronze whilst the Intermediate Coxed four finished fifth in a category of 39.

NUBC also entered three women’s eights into the morning division. There was hot competition in the Champ Eight category with the likes of London, Edinburgh and Durham battling it out with Newcastle.

The Blue Star ladies’ crew claimed a respectable third place finish, adding yet another medal to the morning’s achievements. This success was made even sweeter for the girls, who had to battle with a number of injuries in the run-up to the race.

The intermediate crews had a lot to live up to, having taken gold at this event last year, and the A crew did not disappoint as they finished first, a comfortable 13 seconds ahead of London in second with the B crew placing eighth out of 32.

“The Blue Star excelled in what proved to be a nail-biting race”

Sundee Denton Chandler, rower in that winning crew, said: “There is always pressure on home water, because every crew expects Newcastle to perform. From the start line, every single girl in the boat whether it was our cox, our freshers or our ex-novices gave 100%. The atmosphere was unreal and enabled our blue star determination to transpire into a winning row.”

After midday the second division commenced with then men moving into eights and women into fours. With the wind picking up and water becoming ever choppier it was set to be a tough afternoon of rowing. However, for NUBC, who train on the same stretch with same conditions on a regular basis, the turn in conditions played in their favour.

Arguably the biggest race of the day was the men’s Champ Eight category. This saw the best male rowers from 11 Universities come together to compete for glory. Edinburgh emerged triumphant with a four second lead over second place London. Imperial College took third, only a couple of seconds behind neighbours London. Newcastle placed fourth with a comfortable 43-second lead over Durham in fifth.

The Intermediate Eight category was next in which NUBC fielded three crews. The Blue Star excelled in what proved to be a nail-biting race. The lightweight crew from Newcastle took gold, 0.4 seconds ahead of London who again impressed with a silver.

2nd place for Newcastle in the competition overall

Stroke-man of that lightweight crew, Fred Beaty, said: “We were being chased by the UL crew all the way down. After the tough water around the first bend we really found a strong rhythm and were able to relax into the race. Everyone was happy with the commitment and aggression of our race and we were ecstatic to find out we’d beaten UL!”

It was another Newcastle boat, the B 8, who claimed bronze in that race, ahead of London Bs in fourth.

There were yet more medals to be won in the women’s racing. NUBC entered another three boats into the Intermediate Coxed Four category. The B and C boats placed 12th and 18th respectively and the A crew put in a sterling performance to claim silver, behind Durham, and beat 34 other boats. The lightweight women’s four added to the medal collection with a bronze and the champ quad placed fourth in their race.

With 10 crews gaining places on the podium and 62 athletes with medals in total it was a very successful day for NUBC and sets them in good stead ahead of regatta season. There will be hot competition, however, with the likes of Durham and the University of London performing well and giving the Blue Star something to think about whilst training in the upcoming months.

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