Entering my first year of University after taking a gap year of travelling and working, I wanted to try a new sport. One September afternoon walking around the Freshers’ Fair, I came across the Nottingham University Boat Club and immediately signed up. Until that first session in fresher’s week I had never been in a boat, let alone rowed one before. Fast forward 8 weeks and I was part of the novice men’s squad preparing to enter our first race.
On Sunday 17th November, the NUBC novice men and women travelled down to the Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham for our first-ever friendly race. Arriving just before midday, we changed into our matching Lycra tops and bottoms and were ushered into the water for the initial race of the day. In the novice men’s squad, we had brought eight of us to compete alongside our coxswain, Sophie.
We had three races that afternoon, each of 650 meters – meaning we had to row with full power the entire distance. Birmingham had lent us an eight boat to participate in, and after taking it out on the water, we had a quick warm-up lap around the reservoir before being called to go to the start line and prepare for the first race.
At the start of the race, both Nottingham and Birmingham were fresh and in high spirits as we were neck-and-neck, focused and pushing on with as much power as we could. However, as we reached the final 200 meters, a footplate in our boat snapped off and the wheel of a seat malfunctioned, reducing our team’s capacity. We ended the race in second, but took pride in the fact that we only lost by a small margin.
After fixing the boat, we were ready for the two subsequent races. In the second race, we earned a decisive victory through maximum effort and our determination to win from the start. We quickly paddled back up the reservoir and awaited their third and final team. By this point, our squad was starting to tire. The final race of the day had both crews powering down the reservoir side by side with the physical fatigue of the previous races clearly showing in our squad. However, in the final 300 metres, we dug deep to find what energy we had left and tore ahead of Birmingham, earning us our second victory.
In the final 300 metres, we dug deep to find what energy we had left and tore ahead of Birmingham, earning us our second victory.
The novice girls – having had less than a quarter of the amount of training sessions than that of Birmingham’s squad – ended the day with a well-deserved win under their belt for their eight boat. Unfortunately, they lost their four boat races and their second eight boat race.
The day had been a success, both in terms of gaining racing experience and returning home with three wins overall. Since then, the training has intensified with new levels of fitness and technique being achieved throughout the squad, preparing us more and more for the year to come.
The day had been a success, both in terms of gaining racing experience and returning home with three wins overall.
The NUBC has had great achievements recently throughout the club, including Will Davey finishing second in the 2013 River Trent Head Race, as well as representing UoN at the European Universities Rowing Championship in Poznan, winning a silver medal in a lightweight quad with George McKirdy, Stu Sykes and Artjom Nepryahin. Stu Sykes also represented Great Britain in the summer at the World Rowing Under-23 Championship in Linz, finishing 10th.