The establishment of the boat club in 1963 was an exciting time where the fraternity of energetic rowers gathered to exercise their technique and endurance on the water. Since the 60s, the Boat club has increased drastically in size and we currently have one of the fastest growing clubs, attracting colourful and successful individuals within this University. Traditions of the club are upheld and are close and dear to the rowers who largely abide by the phrase “work hard, play hard”. Both the technical and strength components of the sport are challenging, but the frigid temperatures, gale force winds, and unrelenting rain add to the conditions that the boat club must endure, which only strengthens our spirit as we travel to Perth multiple times a week in order to get on the water. Building on the successes of the past two years the boat club anticipates another great year of racing; with increased club participation due to the high level of interest among incoming first year rowers and a strategic training plan, we hope to perform at our highest ability.
In the past two years, the club has worked extremely hard in order to garner support and capitalise on the growing number of participants, both novice and senior in skill, and revamp the level of competition by reorganising our training schedules. Working in conjunction with the University’s Athletic Union, the Development Office, and the Alumni, the boat club has managed to raise the funds for a boathouse at Perth Sailing Club. This is a substantial project that has been in the works for many years by past presidents of the club and its expected date of completion is March 2014. The acquisition of two new boats for the club in October marks a milestone, and we are thrilled about the recent purchase of a new WinTech IV+ and VIII+. The boat club’s boathouse manager, Matt Powell, expects this to be a highly invaluable addition for the club that “will be instrumental to the growth and development of the boat club for years to come.”
The increase in members for both the men’s and women’s teams has greatly affected how the captains for this year have organized and are running the programme. The novice men’s squad has been reaping the benefits of about threefold the amount of novices from just last year and has been able to send out strong IVs and an VIII in practice; Novice captain Andrew Finch is in the midst of arranging an informal race with Dundee boat club in early December to give the new rowers a taste of healthy competition between clubs. Senior men’s captain Rowan Wood has already seen great results from the senior men’s boat from the Clyde 3 Head and Aberdeen Head races so far this year. On 12 October, the men’s VIII fought against Glasgow (GUBC) and narrowly missed first place. Both Wood and Finch foresee victories on the horizon of the head race season and expect good performances in the regattas come spring. The boat club has also ventured into new territories with the entry of a single in the Clyde race in Glasgow by senior rower Thomas Thomson. Thomson faced some challenges along the course but exhibited great endurance in his first outing. Thomson elaborates “You are the coxswain, oarsman and coach all mixed together; a tough boat to master but highly rewarding. The race was an exciting adventure, and I was utterly spent by the end of the race.”
Similarly, both the women’s senior and novice teams have benefitted from the addition of a experienced rowers and coxswains. Senior women’s captain, Emmeline Reed is confident that her two IVs will complete the season with a good showing – especially after gracing the second place spot in the Aberdeen Head race with the first IV boat. Emma Shaw, the captain of the novice women, is extremely pleased with the level of commitment and skill that she has witness in the past eight weeks, stating: “The novice women are progressing rapidly, building strength and working on their technique with each training session. What began as the club’s largest squad still has terrific turnout to workouts and interest in the sport of rowing. In addition to learning and improving, the squad is hoping to scrimmage against Dundee before the holidays to gain racing experience in preparation for an exciting spring.”
Among the hard work and training, the members of the boat club, old and new, will be competing in an informal race against the club alumni at the boathouse opening ceremony in March. The boat club’s legacy extends through alumni, many of whom still train and row competitively. The race is a highly anticipated one that without a doubt will have an interesting outcome!
From its modest beginnings the St Andrews Boat Club has risen to become one of the premier boat clubs in Scotland. With the advent of new facilities, upgraded equipment, organised training programmes, committed coaching, highly dedicated and rapidly growing membership and an active alumni network, the boat club foresees continued success in coming years. Both members and alums are excited to see what comes next!