This past Saturday, the rowers of the University of St Andrews Boat Club traveled to Inverness to compete in the first race of the semester, debuting the men and women novice crews in their first official race. The Inverness VIIIs and Small Boats Head Race was 4.5 kilometres of the sunny Caledonian Canal.
The St Andrews senior teams displayed great skill as they placed first and third in their respective categories. This was the first race the club had taken part in since a hectic period around Christmas, when three races were taken part in in quick succession. Those races were successful and this afternoon in Inverness was also one which was triumphant.
The St Andrews senior men had an excellent showing in the first race of the new year. Typical to Inverness, the wind was blowing straight down the course, providing the crews with a strong tailwind. After a smooth row up to the start and a bit of a struggle to remain in the correct marshaling position, the men began with a powerful starting piece with a rating of 34, flying by the first 500 metres.
Leaving the Aberdeen boat far behind in their tail after they closed the gap of about a boat length, coxswain Brameier called them up and they remained in the lead. Constantly at a give and take with the Clydesdale crew, Brameier called the men up and drove them on in an attempt to push past the Clydesdale bow-ball.
The first half of the race was very focused with clean catches and finishes, but around the middle of the course exhaustion crept in and blade work became a bit sloppy. However, UStABC regained their focus and applied the pressure to the water more efficiently. For the last few hundred metres, the men upped the rating from the resting 32 to a 35. In the remaining 100 metres, St Andrews went all out. They showed powerful finishes on the last sprint as they approached the finish line. The senior men’s VIII placed 1st in their category.
The senior women, coxed by Claire Herrin, placed third with a final time of 17 minutes and 16 seconds. Captain Emmeline Reed felt the race was strong from the start, providing the girls with an excellent platform to work from for the remainder of the course. Herrin coxed the VIII off their high strokes only once they had gained open water on their competitors.
All eight remained in sync and worked well together with every stroke. A hiccup interrupted their pace briefly at one point when the women had to pause for another boat that had an accident on the canal, causing their momentum to slip momentarily. This added a few seconds to their final time but overall, the senior women had a strong race and Reed, happy with their placement, commented ‘the canal was beautiful and the weather was clear.’
This race marks a very special occasion for both novice crews as their first official competition, and the club is proud to put forward crews so early in the spring season. Despite technical difficulties and last minute lineup changes, the novice women felt they were focused during the race and enjoyed the experience, if not totally happy with the results. The crew is eager to identify ways that it can improve and to come out even stronger for the next competition on 8 March in Glasgow.
This has been a very strong year for the club; with developing alumni links, the building up of our infrastructure and most important of all, the developing sense of success the club now feels that it can go on and become one which will be one of the best in Scotland. Our membership is also growing, with this academic year seeing large numbers signing up to join us at the freshers fayre.
The novice men’s squad had a challenging race, unfortunately incurring some damage to the boat, which forced them to stop during competition. In spite of this, the crew was able to identify strengths and weaknesses to work on in the coming weeks and came off the water optimistic and looking forward to the next competition.
The club was glad to have the novice men among the racing crews in Inverness, and feels their attitudes following a very unusual race speak to the character of the rowers and their commitment to putting their hard work to the test in order to represent the University this season.
The club has a busy schedule ahead with races coming thick and fast across the whole country. However with such a strong performance in the first race of 2014, everything is pointing ahead to a very strong showing from the University of St Andrews Boat Club.
To join the rowing club, find them on Facebook or via their contact page on the Athletic Union website. Further race reports will be featured online and in future issues of the The Saint.