After spending the last few months in 8s to prepare for WEHoRR and HoRR, the University of Leicester Boat Club's athletes hopped into smaller boats, with many of our athletes learning how to scull in two weeks to take on DMU in a new varsity structure. The 2018 Varsity competition saw a coxed four and coxless quadruple scull race between each of the four squads taking place, resulting in eight exciting races on the 750 meter varsity stretch on the River Soar.
The day began with the senior mens quad and the senior women's four. The men's quad, steered by the people's champion Lewis Jackson, put on a brave performance but lost to a far more experienced boat. With only 3 sessions under their belt and 2 man Jude Seaton being a complete beginner to the discipline, the lads put in a fantastic shift but just could not catch the faster quad. After a slow start the women's four seemed unable to find the form they’d had in training to regain DMUs lead off the start and though they made several pushes against the DMU crew they were held off until the end.
The next two races were the novice men's four and the novice women's quad. After a tough few races before them, the Novice Men 4+ put their nerves aside and delivered a convincing win, earning the club's only point of the day. A powerful and well drilled boat showed their ability off the start gaining a length lead within the first few strokes. Their lead continued to grow throughout the race, with the crew never providing an opportunity for DMU to build a comeback, and finishing with a 5 length margin. The four girls chosen for the novice women's quad took to it quickly; though losing by a significant margin to DMU they rowed a clean race having only trained in a quad together on two occasions prior. Despite difficulties with steering through the middle of the course the crew held it together and crossed the line in a good time, however having sculled together all year and achieving a bronze medal at BUCS head in February the competition from DMU was a class above them.
The third set of races was the senior men's four and the senior women's quad. The Men's coxed four were not graced with a quick start but their technique brought them right to the heels of the DMU men. However, such is life with racing on the Soar, a swan wrapped itself around the boat bringing the crew to an effective halt. DMU, seeing this, capitalized and took the win by 1/2 a length. The girls quad was just as close a race, and after only three training sessions in the quad they set off with a strong start gaining half a length. Holding their competition off until the last bridge, it wasn’t until the very closing stages that DMU overtook, just before they made contact with the bushes.
The final two races began with the novice women's four. This crew had been training together all term aside from a small break to slot into the record breaking WeHorr boat, and going into the race looked technically and physically better than ever. Sadly after a fast start a crab stopped the boat and DMU pushed away to a significant lead. After recovering, the four pushed back and continued gaining on DMU for the remainder of the race, however with only 500m left to go there wasn’t enough water to catch them. On another day without a crab the result may well have been reversed and whilst it wasn’t the result hoped for it gave the crew a valuable insight into the pressures of side-by-side racing. The novice men's quad surprised and showed glimpses of brilliance in their 3 training sessions prior to racing so their two coaches were quietly optimistic before the start. Again, the novice men had a sharp start implementing the things they had learned in training and were leading by half a length as they approached the half way mark of the race. Unfortunately a steering error meant they clipped the bank and came to a near standstill, giving DMU the opportunity to fly past and finish with a convincing win. An impressive performance from a 4x with minimal experience which deserved a better result.
Though the final scoreline was 7-1, this was not reflective of the close nature of much of the racing. Congratulations to DMU and well done to all of our athletes, especially those who learned to scull in just 2 weeks and to our seniors hopping into the four after spending the last few months in the eight. We are looking forward to continuing to work with DMURC in the coming months and continue the fantastic relationship we have with our neighbours.