Over 2,500 students are ready to race BUCS Regatta from 30 April to 2 May. Harry Fraser-Urquhart from Junior Rowing News catches up with students from Newcastle, Liverpool and Plymouth Universities as they prepare to put their training to the test at Nottingham
BUCS Regatta is the second major BUCS rowing event of the season, and this year returns to its traditional slot in the calendar over the early May bank holiday weekend at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
With racing over three days, and events ranging from Eights to Singles and Championship to Beginner, thousands of students will battle it both for individual honours in their events and for their university’s BUCS points.
British Rowing Events Manager and BUCS Regatta Controller James Lee’s annual entry stats tweet revealed that 2,618 students from 71 universities will take to the water. Here, we dive into the preparations and stories of three of those clubs.
Newcastle University is one of the most recognisable (and audible) participants at any BUCS event. They come off the back of winning both the men’s and overall Victor Ludorum prizes at BUCS Head in February and will want to do the same at the regatta.
With an open-door policy to any athlete who commits to the programme, Newcastle has crews in most events, equally split between their men’s and ever-developing women’s squads, each backed by the famous Blue Star roar.
“We have a couple of titles to defend,” says President Stan Cannons, “as well as having our eyes set on reclaiming the overall VL. But – results aside -everyone at the club is really looking forward to this weekend.”
Much is made of the way in which Newcastle’s programme is geared towards events such as BUCS Regatta with high-intensity race pieces a staple of what they do meaning that Blue Star crews are some of the hardest racers at the event. With a home-based Easter training camp under their belts and a solid winter of training and racing, Newcastle head to Nottingham, ready to uphold their status as one of the premier university programmes in the UK.
Meanwhile, Liverpool University Boat Club goes into BUCS Regatta off the back of what was their most successful head season ever. This included wins at local events and more significant national events, with both men’s and women’s squads securing pennants from Fours Head, various medals from BUCS Head and pennants from crews at both WeHORR and HORR.
They also chose to stay domestic for Easter Camp, training down on the Thames at Goring. Liverpool will head to BUCS Regatta looking to continue the success that they have already enjoyed so far this season.
President Callum Kemp summarised the quiet ambition of Liverpool, saying: “In terms of our aspirations, they’re no different to past races; turn up, put a big shift in, and produce something the entire club can be proud of!”
Liverpool will also be sending a strong cohort of beginners and a championship women’s four – the first championship crew entered by Liverpool in several years. As Callum says, the club looks to “use BUCS to propel us towards the end of the season – and Henley”.
Moving to the south-west coast, Plymouth University will have 16 athletes racing at BUCS in 2022. For them, this has been a year of rebuilding in the wake of the pandemic, and they have high hopes that their beginner quads will put in the foundations for the years ahead. However, even making it to the start line has taken an impressive amount of drive for these oarsmen and women.
As Head Coach Steve Clarke explains: “We row and train out of Dart Totnes ARC, so students travel around 40 minutes each way to complete training sessions.”
This situation leaves Plymouth with minimal backing from the university. Their struggle and commitment only highlights just how strong the pull of being able to compete at a national event like BUCS Regatta is for clubs up and down the country.
In addition to training and racing at various regional events over the winter, Plymouth rowers took on a mammoth 48-hour ergo challenge as a fundraiser for their club and two charities, aiming to also push rowing and fitness to the broader community. The club will be aiming for a regatta that befits the many miles laid down through the darkest and coldest of months with a tight-knit club spirit and a winter’s worth of hard work.
These are, of course, only a tiny fraction of the clubs competing this weekend. For everyone involved, this weekend is the culmination of early starts and late nights, long hours in the gym and also in the library.
Summing up, perhaps Stan speaks on behalf of every student racing this weekend, when he says: “To represent our club at one of the premier student events in the country is always a real honour.”
The very best of luck to all of those involved!
Looking for an in-depth preview of BUCS Regatta events? Head on over to JRN for comprehensive pre-race analysis.
Follow the racing
Watch the racing via the livestream feed brought to you by BUCS Sport and British Rowing on Facebook below ⬇️ The sessions that will be on Facebook are:
- A/B finals, C-F finals – Saturday (1.35-7.30pm)
- A/B finals, C-F finals – Sunday (2.01-8pm)
Photos: Drew Smith