University College London Boat Club was founded in 1864 as a rowing club for the students of UCL. Since it’s foundation it has seen a lot of changes not only in name and affiliation but also in levels of membership and success. Since the fusion of the men’s and women’s boat clubs into what is now known as UCLUBC the club has been growing steadily and is continuously looking to improve.
Last year the club raced abroad for the first time in its history, with both first eights travelling to Switzerland to compete in the now 3 year old Basel Head race. The boys finished 11th out of 56 crews (notably seven of the top eight crews were international eights) while the girls finished 7th in the women’s competition. Excellent results aside, the trip was a great experience for all involved as it gave the entire senior club an early focus and above all everyone had loads of fun.
As the head season continued the eyes slowly turned from the seniors to our novice squads who were leading the way in terms of results. While the novice girls annihilated any competition thrown their way, including a sensational Quintin Head win, the novice boys weren’t far behind as they were head and shoulders above all other London college boat clubs.
To prepare for the end of the head season the whole club went to winter training camp in Marlow in the first week of January. This was an excellent opportunity for a lot of our athletes to take out smaller boats as well as do training in eights. The heavy rain kept us all crammed in the kitchen, whenever we weren’t on the water and revision (sometimes) went forgotten as all the separate squads got to know each other a bit closer.
At Women’s Head of the River (WeHoRR) the senior women were able to defend their result from last year (59th in 2011, 61st in 2012) despite the crew being weakened by injuries and illnesses and the boys managed to improve their top boat standing from 110th in 2011 to 88th in 2012.
After the Head, novice and senior status went forgotten as we went to Henley-on-Thames for our Easter training camp, where we trained out of the Leander Club. By the end of the camp, after a few races with other student crews we had more or less found our summer racing crews and were all ready for a big season (as soon as exams were over).
The Club has competed at HRR in three of the last four seasons. This year’s first eight’s performance in the Temple Cup, beating Cambridge University Lightweights and giving Oxford Brookes a good race, was the best seen for many years. The women’s first eight reached the semi-finals of the academic eights competition at HWR last season, and was only prevented from attempting to emulate this success this year by unfair weather conditions during the qualifying race, which cut the total qualifying crews from 16 to 8. They qualified 12th fastest.
As at the end of every season, many of our athletes move on from the club as they graduate from UCL. However, we have sent our boats away, to ensure they are all spick and span for the new season and the new batch of representatives of UCLUBC. In addition to our restored boats we have also purchased a new Filippi 4+ for the women’s squads.
With our sterling fleet, our newly appointed Director of Rowing, Filip Ljubicic, and the guidance of our professional and voluntary coaches we are looking for this year to be bigger and better for the boat club than any before.
President of UCLUBC 2012-13