Varsity, the annual competition between us and our rivals Cardiff University Rowing Club. This year the competition took place on the River Taff in Cardiff where we came with hope to retain the Welsh Boat Race title and gain maximum points for Swansea University in the Welsh Varsity.
The first race of the day was the Novice Women. Unfortunately the Cardiff crew took the lead in the early stages and our Novice Women couldn't find a way to close the ever increasing margin. However as put by Novice Women's Captain George Wells "the Novice Women were thrown many challenges that were out of their control this year, they fought hard at varsity to try and steal a win from Cardiff on their home turf. However it didn’t turn out on the day.” It was an unfortunate result to start the day with but the Novice Women did themselves proud and can build from this and continue to push on throughout the summer and into next season.
The Second race of the day saw the Novice Men try and complete a hat-trick of results in this event and follow in the footsteps of some of the seniors who'd previously won the race in 2017 and 2018. It was a competitive start from the Novice Men who were neck and neck with the Cardiff crew through the first bend but unfortunately the Cardiff cox took advantage of Cardiff's inside bend and they pushed out to just over a lengths lead over the last 500m or so. Although the Novice Men held their heads high and the Novice Men's Captain Tom King was "very impressed with their attitudes throughout the day, from how they committed to the race plan together and how they were able to come off the water with a positive outlook, to how they raced.” With the Seniors still to race the boys were eager to get behind and support them.
The Alumni Race is always an interesting affair especially this year with a few of the Swansea crew boating whilst wearing their Swansea University Rowing Club blazers. Cardiff took the 500m race but with some big names hopefully joining the Alumni crew for next year hopefully they can bring home the win in 2020.
With the Novice and Alumni races concluded it was time for the senior crews to take to the water. The Senior Women's crew captained by the great Lucy Swithenbank had a tough challenge on their hands as they looked to gain their first ever varsity win for the Senior Women. Lucy has described the race in her own words "Off the start Swansea took a slight lead with a strong bold start, through in the middle section of the race it was hard to split between the crews. It was a tight race being side by side right up until the very last bridge entering the last 200m. Each time either crew put in a push the other crew responded seamlessly. As captain I couldn’t of been any prouder for how hard the girls trained throughout the year for the varsity race, it motivated them from the very beginning in September. They raced with everything they had and not only gave their all stroke for stroke in the gutsiest race going from the start line, they acted with the utmost sportsmanship throughout." Obviously it was not the result the girls wanted but they're even more determined to break their losing streak next year.
The overall score leading into the final race of the day was 3-0 to Cardiff however the Senior Men were hot favourites heading into their race. "With the great streak on the line the Senior Men had to step up and perform." - Jack Gibson Senior Men's Captain. After dropping a length down after the first 500m the Senior Men pushed through Cardiff at the end of the middle straight and into their bend with some excellent coxing from Ethan Baker(video can be found at the bottom of the page). In the last few hundred meters the Senior Men pushed easily away from Cardiff to claim the win. As put by the events live stream commentator in probably the only pro-swansea commentary of the day he stated "The rot of 6 years looks like it's going to carry on" for Cardiff. A great win for the Senior Men stopping Cardiff from sweeping all 4 races in the varsity. Jack Gibson had this to say about the result "It was one of the spiciest races I've ever been in but a great show of mental strength from the boys to stay calm under pressure and keep the streak intact." With numerous Senior Men returning next year and a Novice Men's squad with high potential we hope the streak will continue.
It was another fun year at the Welsh Boat Race 2019 and although some of the results weren't what we wanted all Swansea crews can be proud of what they've accomplished over the last few months. The final score was 3-1 to Cardiff which meant they regained the Welsh Boat Race Title. Thanks to everyone who came to support us, we hope to claim back the varsity title in 2020.