The May bank holiday weekend saw, as it does every year, the biggest university rowing event in the country take place – BUCS Regatta. With this weekend in the back of every rower’s minds throughout the gruelling winter months, it was finally here. The club produced some incredible performances across all three days, finishing the weekend with a total of 16 medals, many of which were gold.
Jack Smith kickstarted the medal winning on Saturday when he finished third in the men’s intermediate lightweight single, just narrowly missing out on the silver in a tightly contested final. Four of his lightweight teammates followed suit, storming to victory in the lightweight 4- and successfully defending their title from last year. The men’s beginner four raced with excellent maturity at their first BUCS finishing in silver medal position to a quick Queen’s University Belfast crew. The women’s squad demonstrated their seamless ability to trade one blade for two by winning silver in intermediate and bronze in championship quads, fantastically emulating last year’s results. The day ended with the men’s intermediate and championship 8+ A finals, in which both NUBC crews finished in fifth place.
With the weather set to deteriorate throughout the day on Sunday, all crews were keen to race well in the morning to make those precious A final places. The strength of the men’s lightweight squad was clearly demonstrated in the MLwt8+ when they comfortably won the A final, defending their title from last year and setting a new course record in the process. Next up was the men’s novice eight who, despite their best efforts, couldn’t quite match the speed of another classy Queens Belfast crew and finished second. The men’s fours followed, in which both the intermediate and champ coxed boats performed incredibly, securing bronze medals. The day finished with the women’s eights who had performed consistently well throughout the day, with the intermediate 8 looking to defend the title from last year. In the final they were quickly up on the rest of the field off the start and controlled the whole race all the way down, comfortably winning gold for the club. The women’s champ 8 followed and put up an epic fight in a stacked field of boats, however they couldn’t quite match the speed and finished in fifth place.
The success didn’t stop on the third day of racing. Once again, the men’s lightweight squad were the ones to kickstart the medal rush. They fought a hard fight in the lightweight quad, finishing in second place only a few seconds behind a strong crew from Reading University. Next up was Freddie Strawson in the men’s beginner single who, after already winning two silver medals in the beginner 4 and 8, went one better to walk away with the MBeg1x title in a record setting time. Then we turned to the lightweight women, a relatively new squad at NUBC which has promising talent. The girls in the lightweight pair rowed a stunning race, finishing just behind an experienced Cambridge University crew to win a silver medal. Shortly afterward the women’s intermediate coxed four won their A final, and were followed by the championship coxed four who sadly just missed out on the medals. The men’s championship pair raced brilliantly, placing second and preventing a 1, 2 Brookes finish. The final races of the weekend were the men’s intermediate and championship quads, in which the inter quad pipped Reading university to the bronze medal and the champ quad just missed out on a top 3 finish.
The 5 gold, 6 silver and 5 bronze medals won over the 3 days put Newcastle in third place in the overall Victor Ludorum. The quality of the racing and maturity of the squad that was consistently displayed from all athletes over the weekend, made for an excellent regatta. This weekend has proven itself to be an excellent benchmark to build upon as we head into the thick of the summer season.
Written by: Kelsey Stoddart
Photos by: James Waller