After a ground breaking 2016, with Reading University Boat Club finishing 2nd overall on the BUCS league table, we knew 2017 would be a challenge. With a hard winter’s training behind us and a really successful training camp, we took to the water on Saturday morning full of anticipation for the next few days but also worried as the competition was higher than it had been in a long time.
First up on Saturday morning were our lightweight singles. Jack Gibson and Ross Jones in the Intermediate Lightweight singles and Franklin Hamilton in the Champ category. All our skinny boys raced well, with the intermediate boys coming 5th and 11th (so both qualifying for the A/B semi’s) and Frank coming an impressive 4th so also qualifying for the semi-finals. Up next were the beginner girls who put in brave performances. Hettie Horler came 17th, seeing her progress directly to the C final and Sophie Bullock came 32nd, moving to the F final.
Next up Bryn Hassan and Chris O’Bryan contested the men’s intermediate singles, and event we achieved an impressive 1, 2 in last year so the boys definitely felt the pressure. Bryn came an impressive 8th in the time trial, progressing to the A/B semis but Chris came away with 16th, moving to the C final later. Olly Dix raced well in the tough champ category and following in Frank’s footsteps, also came an impressive fourth in the time trial.
For our lightweight girls Amy Fuller and Victoria Norton, a very tough field saw them coming 7th in the time trial so able to contest for a place in the A final later on in the day.
We then had some quads in action, the men’s beginner quad raced well, looking to continue their success from last year and Harry Hannan, Angus Abbott, Scott Somerville and Dan Gregory managed a solid 5th in the time trial. Then we had three women’s quads with the top Intermediate quad of Anna Smart, Amy Fuller, Katy Ratcliffe and Gina Tarpey also looking to defend a title against some very fast crews. They had a solid time trial, coming third but with only 2 seconds across the board from 1st to 5th it looked like it was anyone’s to play for later on in the day. The second intermediate women’s boat of Beatrice Roe, Kit Swales, Molly Regan and Helen Such missed out on the A/B semi’s by 0.9 of a second after a sterling race and the champ quad of Poppy Durkan, Lucy Ryan, Louretta Grove and Meg Park raced some very fast crews in their race for lanes, moving directly to the A final later on in the day.
The time trials of the morning had only just calmed down when our lightweight singles took to the water again, both Jack Gibson and Franklin Hamilton secured places in their respective A finals, with Ross Jones suffering from some technical difficulties and progressing to the B final. A similar fate met Bryn Hassan in the intermediate open weight single but Olly Dix raced very well, securing his place nicely in the A final of the championship singles. Amy Fuller and Victoria Norton put in a good race but unfortunately did not progress to their final after being led by some very competitive crews.
A positive result came from the boy’s beginner quad who came second in their semi-final, putting them in a really good place moving forwards into the A final later in the day. Reading’s intermediate girls’ quad also came second in their semi-final to a fast University of London crew.
Sophie Bullock took to the water for our first final of the day. She raced well, coming fourth. Followed by Hettie in the C final who came second. No doubt the girls will use these results to power them through the rest of the season especially when making the step up into the senior squad.
Chris O’Bryan was next up, contesting the C final but came across the line in 6th, a tough race by him. The girl’s 3rd quad also had a go at the C final but turned Chris’ result around by winning it by over a second from Southampton.
Ross Jones then came a solid 5th in the B final of the lightweight intermediate sculls, warming up to our first medal race of the day. In the A final, Jack Gibson had a solid start but trailed a little going through the 100M marker, however, the field was still very close as he moved into third place with 500 metres to go before finding an incredible burst of speed and winning himself (and RUBC’S first) silver medal. A very well done to Jack.
This was then followed by Franklin, looking very composed and posting a very competitive time in the lightweight championship event, he finished an impressive 5th and will definitely have his eyes on a medal this time next year.
Bryn Hassan then came 5th in the B final of the men’s inter singles before Olly Dix had a great race in the Championship category, missing out on a medal by 3 seconds but that 4th place at BUCS isn’t always as sour as it used to be!
While we were still celebrating Gibbo’s success from earlier, the novice boys put in a very well executed race, holding the bronze medal position all the way and pushing for silver. They will have been ecstatic with their first BUCS bronze medal, very well done boys.
The Girl’s intermediate quad knew it was going to be a ‘hospital race’ to try and grasp a highly sought after BUCS medal and put in a strong start, chasing down Edinburgh for bronze. They crossed the half way line in third but pushes from Oxford Brookes and Edinburgh in the second 1000m saw Reading pushed out of the battle and finishing 5th, a very disappointing result.
A similar race was anticipated for the girl’s championship quad with a slightly more literal ending. They were 3rd through the 500 marker and battled a strong Newcastle crew stroke for stroke down the course, finishing just over a second down on them and out of the medals and also calling for an ambulance.
It was a mixed first day with some very pleasant results but a lot of disappointment. With BUCS only a third complete though there was plenty to push us on.
For the girls, Sunday = singles day. We got to the lake abominably early to see tents and railings blown over by gale-force winds and wondering when was a good time to scratch our singles. Fortunately, the wind dropped throughout the day meaning, fast conditions but messy hair.
First up were the lightweight girls, Katy Ratcliffe and Anna Smart (Last year’s silver medallist) contested the intermediate event and Amy Fuller and Victoria Norton set out to race in the championship category. Anna and Katy put in solid time trial efforts, qualifying for the A/B semis in 5th and 6th respectively. Amy had a good race in a very hard field and looked forward to contest the semi-finals later. Vic struggled a lot in the wind so made the brave decision to pull out and concentrate on the quad event the following day.
Before the open-weight girls took to the water, we had two beginner girls’ quads in action. The top quad of Alicia Pears, Sophie Bullock, Hettie Horler and Ellen Smith put in a solid race, coming 7th in the time trial so will be pushing for an A final spot later on in the day and Claire Hesketh, Saira Syed, Katherine MacPherson and Freya Corey let the conditions get the better of them, qualifying in 17th for the C final.
Next up was fresher Lucy Ryan, racing well in the time trial of the intermediate singles and qualifying for the A/B semi’s in 8th, then Louretta Grove took her single to the water for the first time since final trials and also came 8th in the time trial. Both will be looking to step up later and secure their A final spots.
Enough of the girls because we had six boys doubles in action. Matt Rogers and Lawrence O’Connor and Ollie Irwin and Chris O’Bryan raced in the intermediate category and both qualified for the A/B semis. Olly Dix and Rob McPherson came a strong 3rd in the time trial of the championship double and we then had three strong lightweight doubles with last year’s bronze medallists Simon Williamson and Franklin Hamilton, Chris Dove and Jack Gibson and Ross Jones and Johannes De Jong all racing well and finishing in 2nd, 5th and 7th positions, ready to race for A final positions later.
Securing RUBC’s first A final place was Anna Smart who finished third in her semi-final in the intermediate lightweight singles. Katy Ratcliffe was just behind her, also qualifying in third. Amy fuller held onto third until just after half way before being forced into fourth position after some very strong racing. The same fate hit the women’s beginner quad who were edged out of the 3rd qualifying spot by a strong boat from De Montfort University. It was fourth place again for Lucy Ryan in her semi-final and then again for Louretta Grove, it was starting to feel like a curse. Both Lucy and the beginner’s quad will go on to race in B finals.
On the boys side, things were looking a little more positive, with the 2nd intermediate boys double struggling to cross the line in 5th, in the second semi-final Matt Rogers and Lawrence O’Connor qualified in 2nd for the A final, very well done to them.
But the curse of fourth place reared its head again with two out of three of our lightweight doubles, missing out on the A final by one place. In their semi-final Chris Dove and Jack Gibson held 2nd till the 1500 before strong crews from London and Oxford Brookes rowed through them. In the other semi-final, Simon Williamson and Franklin Hamilton help a comfortable second the whole way down, with Ross Jones and Johannes De Jong fighting for that third spot with a strong duo from Bath. They also finished in fourth.
Reading’s second girl’s beginner’s boat came fourth in the C final but that was the only minor final entry we had and as we moved on through the afternoon, trying to forget about those fourth place finishes, things were looking up.a and Katy found themselves behind off the start before Katy found some speed in the 3rd 500 and was able to move from 6th to 4th position, battling for bronze and clinching it on the line, Anna finishing a few seconds behind her having raced very well. With RUBC’s first medal of the day and a first medal for our women’s squad, we moved into the boys events, very excited.
Our beginner women took their fourth place semi-final result to heart and found some real speed, winning their B final by 15 seconds, proving to everyone what B finals are all about, very impressive girls. We then had Lucy Ryan coming 2nd in her B final, looking very composed and well-paced but unfortunately another fourth place in the B final of the intermediate doubles for Chris and Ollie followed by an almost as disappointing result by Matt and Lawrence in the A final who battled hard at the start before dropping off in the finishing stages of the race.
Another fourth came from Olly and Rob in the competitive champ double before a real battle for medals between our top lightweight double and Queen’s Belfast. Reading came away with the bronze after a very tight race, adding to our earlier medal, very well done.
We came to the lake on Monday morning to learn that our lightweight girls’ quad would only be allowed to race for time only due to some rule infringements. This also affected the boys, some of whom would have been racing in lightweight and intermediate events and meant that there would be some scratch crews in action later today.
Both lightweight boys quad could still race and Chris Dove, Simon Williamson, Rob McPherson and Franklin Hamilton and Ross Jones, Matt Rogers, Johannes De Jong and Jack Gibson both put in well paced efforts to qualify for the A/B semi-finals. It was then a quick turn-around for Simon Williamson and Franklin Hamilton who race alongside Olly Dix and Luke Reiser in the championship quad, later in the day.
Next up were Scott Somerville and Dan Gregory in the beginner singles. Both did well coming 7th and 9th in the time trial before the lightweight girls of Katy Ratcliffe, Amy Fuller, Anna Smart and Victoria Norton gave it their all in their time trial, not knowing if they would be racing again or not. In a very tough field they came 5th and were told they would be permitted to race in a semi-final.
Reading’s brand new combination of Ollie Irwin, Bryn Hassan, Harvey Jacklin and Lawrence O’Connor had a strong time trial, coming 3rd the championship quad also raced well, winning their time trial but in a small field, plenty of tactics would have been played. In the girls’ doubles, Poppy Durkan and Meg Park and Beatrice Roe and Kit Swales qualified in 4th and 5th place and in the championship double category, Louretta Grove and Lucy Ryan also qualified a competitive third. Many crews moved into the semi-finals excited to prove themselves and qualify for medal-finals.
In our first semi-final of the day Franklin and Simon were fresh from their champ quad time trial and ready to secure a place in the A final alongside Chris and Rob. They held of attacks from Reading’s second lightweight quad the whole way down the course and qualified as fastest boat going into the final later, with the second lightweight boat coming second.
Tragedy struck in the beginner singles, first with Scott Somerville having the curse of fourth place from the day before, but also with Dan Gregory, sculling his way to a place in the A final but toppling in just before the line! He was gutted and rightly so but bravely went on to race the B final with Scott later on.
Despite a solid race and a good qualification into the final, the lightweight girls were later informed they would not be permitted to race it and instead would progress to a rare championship B final with Newcastle and Oxford Brookes who were also responsible for some rule infringement.
For the boys quads and girls doubles however, there were still medal chances up for grabs. The intermediate boy’s quad finished second in their semi-final and the two intermediate reading doubles found themselves battling it out in the same semi-final but managing to take both qualifying spots after Edinburgh. A real surprise result came from Lucy and Lou, leading the field and taking the win in the semi-final of the championship women’s double ahead of Olympian Polly Swan who was racing for Edinburgh. A really impressive performance from the two young scullers, one they hoped to replicate later on in the day.
From the first A final of the day came our best result of the weekend: A win in the lightweight men’s quad. The boys did it in style and lead from start to finish, winning by clear water. The second boat battled for bronze the entire way but finished in fourth, still a very impressive result.
Next up was the B final of the beginner singles, with a real inter-club battle going on between Dan and Scott, with Scott taking third place and a win over Dan by 0.9 seconds in the end, no doubt the boys will use this race experience moving forwards into summer regattas.
It was only Reading and Newcastle who turned up to the start of their B final in the women’s light quads but despite some banter at the start, Reading put in a strong race, sticking to their plan and moving away from Newcastle to win by 16 seconds.
We then had another possible medal race with the intermediate boy’s quad. Unfortunately, strong middle K’s from UWE and Newcastle meant that Reading’s finishing sprint fell just 0.15 seconds short of a medal.
Reading landed the other side of the 3rd/4th line in the next race, with the boy’s champ quad winning bronze by a considerable margin, a very impressive result.
With our most successful day of the regatta drawing to a close, we had two more chances to win medals, in the intermediate doubles where Poppy Durkan managed to sneak a bronze last year, it was a tough battle but her and Meg Park lost out on the line to a strong combination from Durham.
In the Championship event it was a different story, a very exciting final saw Reading leading to the 1500 metre mark, with all six crews within 6 seconds of each other. A huge surge from Loughborough saw then take the gold and London pinched silver on the line, still leaving a very impressive championship bronze in the hands of Lucy and Lou, a fantastic end to the day.
We left Holme Pierrepont with a mixture of success and dissatisfaction, there were some exciting and unexpected medals but some clear disappointment within our ranks. The competition had definitely seen our success over the past few years and come at us with all guns blazing. It will be important now for us to use our successes and defeats to drive us onwards into the summer regattas with women’s Henley, Marlow and Henley royal our new focus before EUSA regatta where record numbers of RUBC members will be competing.
A special mention has to go to President Simon Williamson for winning three championship medals in his last BUCS regatta after four years at the club and to the intermediate boys quad of Ollie Irwin, Bryn Hassan, Harvey Jacklin and Lawrence O’Connor who only having rowed together for the first time in the time trial that morning, came only a second off a medal-winning time.