The club managed to qualify five boats, a total of 32 athletes into the competition, meaning that virtually the entire Men’s squad got the opportunity to race last week. The Women’s Squad attempted, but was unsuccessful, in getting a four into the Town Challenge Cup, being the 4th fastest non-qualifier.
The main focus of effort was on the Temple Challenge Cup, where NUBC managed to get three eights on the start line (equal only to Brookes). Going into the start of the competition, however, it appeared the gods of the draw had been distinctly malevolent. The first eight had drawn Imperial, who had beaten them by a length a few weeks before at Marlow. The second eight had drawn Brookes B, and even more unluckily the third eight had drawn Brookes A.
Although while few would admit it openly, there was a chance of NUBC being wiped out on the Wednesday. And indeed, while the second and third eights rowed creditably, they were outgunned by the Brookes crews they had drawn.
The mood picked up considerably, however, when the announcement came on the commentary that the first eight were leading IC at the Barrier. They kept ahead the entire course distance to win in the fastest time of the day. The following day they dispatched Edinburgh University with ease.
Improbably, on the Friday the first eight faced off again – exactly as last year – against Brown University from the US. Nobody was expecting this to be an easy race, with Brown being a traditionally strong rowing outfit in the States. NUBC were down off the start and with 300m to go were still behind. Like England with penalties, we’ve seen that story before – it seemed it was all over. However, in a commanding demonstration of their racing prowess, NUBC picked up the rate, psyched-out Brown and rowed through them in the final 100m, accompanied by a roar of approval from the spectators in the Stewards enclosures. NUBC 2 – Brown 0.
On the Saturday, the first eight came up against another strong US crew, Northeastern A, who had come 5th in the US IRA Champ 8s A Final in May. The gods of the draw had also continued their malevolent streak by giving them an easy Friday race against their B crew. NUBC were down off the start, and Northeastern put in a decent amount of distance through the middle section, almost getting clear water by Remenham. However, NUBC then began their wind, charging forward, eating up the distance and giving hope to blue star fans. Unfortunately though Northeastern had a little bit more left in their legs, and held off NUBC by 1/3 length.
While we were sad not to see NUBC in the final, this is the second year in a row where Newcastle have made the Temple weekend, and only the third overall in the Club’s history. Northeastern lost to Brookes by 3/4L in the final, so NUBC were indirectly only just over a length off the eventual winners. Last year it was 1.5 lengths, so next year…
Aside from the Temple, Will Stewart took part in the GB U23 8, which handily carried the NUBC name on the programme entry in the Ladies. This too lost to eventual winners Brookes by 1 length in a record time. The Prince of Wales Quad (3 NUBC scullers) had a gutting race, as having led the entire course, they were pipped at the finish by a canvas, forced out by a strong German crew.
Also, the HRR BBQ had an amazing turnout, with over 100 people from all NUBC eras attending. Clearly it’s getting a reputation as the place to be, as a couple of Stewards popped round to tuck in to the hog roast.
2018 was always going to be a hard act to follow for the blue star community, when we enjoyed the amazing sight of having no fewer than six of our alumni on the HRR podium.
Sadly this year we came away empty handed, but some honourable mentions must go to:
- Michael Trevena for making the final of the Thames, losing by 3/4L to a high-powered dutch crew.
- Tom Ford and James Rudkin for being the first blue stars to ever row in the Grand final.
- James Robson for a gutsy row in the Ladies semi-final, losing to another high-powered dutch crew who were on record pace.
- Will New, for rowing as Blue Star Club proper in the Visitors, and successfully intimidating his German opponents to withdraw from their first heat