I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I saw 16 rowers wearing ‘UCL’ with pride let loose inside a Swiss supermarket on our first day in Basel. And then, as we sat on the riverside eating our Swiss-style lunch, I saw that smile spread across the faces of all 22 members of UCLBC who had come to Switzerland to represent the club in the International Regatta, Basel Head. Our weekend in Switzerland was quite an experience; with many memories I know I will keep forever, and many others which remain lost on that Basel dance-floor, sacrificed to a few too many Basel Head drinks…
It’s not everyday that a bunch of ordinary university rowers get the chance to race abroad at an International regatta, so our departure to Switzerland on the 15th of November came amongst much excitement and anticipation. After our surprisingly short journey across the pond, we were met in Switzerland by that all important 10th member of the squad… Our boats had indeed made a slightly longer 14-hour and 600 mile journey from London to Basel by trailer, thanks to a greatly appreciated but very tired few. As both Senior Men and Women’s crews rowed alongside each other on the River Rhine on that first morning in Basel, it was hard to forget just how far away we were from London and the familiar Tideway. This 600 foot wide and relatively empty river, with a bitter cold air and penetrating sun, made for a novel experience of rowing and heightened eagerness for the race the following day.
Loaded with carbs from the previous night, fully kitted out in our new onesies, pre-race chats done, plans made, turns practiced, nerves intensified and adrenaline soaring… The race was indeed one many of us won’t forget. We began against an incredibly strong stream, quite like ‘rowing against treacle’ (quoted by a certain Stroke). Yet the difficulty of those first three quarters gladly served to make the journey back even quicker and more enjoyable. The results saw the women finish a respectable 7th out of 9 crews in the Female Elite category, whilst the men finished an impressive 11th out of 25 male elite crews. Needless to say, spirits were high and we all welcomed our post-race dinner organised by the Basel Head committee with pleasure. That night, we certainly showed the rest of Europe how the English party; UCLBC were quite literally the last one’s standing on the Basel dance-floor!
We return to London having grown stronger as a squad; with the experience of representing UCL in an International regatta and having experienced it together.
Athena Mellor, Fundraising & Publicity