Whilst most UCL students spent their May bank holiday weekend knuckling down to revising for their exams, the Senior squads of UCLBC travelled up to Nottingham to the National Water Sports Centre to compete in BUCS regatta. This was the second time UCL had competed at BUCS regatta and it was the largest number of entries that BUCS had ever had with 71 universities competing.
First up were the Senior Men who fielded two eights on Saturday. The second 8 went straight through to the D final in which they came 3rd, a race that lived up to much anticipated excitement as all of the crews were only separated by a couple of seconds from their time trial results. The first mens’ 8 was put together shortly before the weekend and after an average time trial (8th), had it all to do to make the final. In the semi-final they got off to a slow start but gradually fought their way back to clinch 3rd place by 1/3 length from Durham. In the A-final there were 3 Brookes crews and despite the boys’ best efforts, Brookes claimed Gold, Silver and Bronze and UCL took 5th place. Although a little disappointed, it was a good days work considering the lack of time as a crew.
Sunday marked the arrival of the Senior Women’s 8 on the lake who had a solid performance in the time trial and came 3rd behind Oxford and Cambridge with Nottingham close on their tails. The fast times posted by Oxford and Cambridge suggested that the rest of the universities would be fighting it out for the bronze medal. The semi-final left the crew feeling they’d under-performed compared with their time trial, despite coming 2nd, and would need to step on for the upcoming A-final. Unfortunately UCL were drawn in a lane on the other side of the lake from where the action was taking place between Cambridge and Nottingham (Oxford had already surged ahead). So despite some good pushes and much better rowing than in the semi-final, Nottingham beat UCL to the line and the Bronze medal, leaving UCL with a frustrating 4th place finish. The Senior Men’s 4 were also in action on Sunday and after a strong qualifying round (3rd) the boys eased into the final with a very strong 2nd place in their semi-final. All 6 crews qualified within 4 seconds of each other so they knew it was going to be a very close race. Once again a Brookes 1, 2, 3 seemed ominous at halfway but a massive push going into the last quarter saw UCL take Silver with only half a second separating 2nd and 4th place.
Monday saw the last racing of the weekend from the Senior Women’s 4. The time trial was the first rowing this crew had done together in a while so they were excited to find out they’d come 2nd, only being beaten by Oxford Brookes (which seemed to be a reoccurring theme to the weekend). They went into the semi-final guessing (correctly) they probably would not have the quickest of starts, though they were out in front by 500m gone and able to maintain this lead comfortably for the rest of the course. This meant they drew a good lane, sheltered from the growing cross-wind, next to Brookes for the A-final. Sadly Brookes were too fast for them though UCL had a strong, solid rhythm and held off challenges from UL to claim second place and another Silver medal for UCL.
All in all, a great weekend of racing with some great results – a promising start to the summer!