The biggest race of the semester, University of Bristol Head is always a race the club looks forward too. Whether it’s the seniors looking to test themselves against the rest of the highly competitive university rowing scene of the South West or the Novice squads first taste of competitive on the water action. This year we took one of the largest cohorts of SURC athletes ever. We had 52 rowers and 6 coxes in 8 crews racing across the 2 divisions.
In the morning our 3 Senior crews took on the 3.2Km course in Division 1. First off the start was the Senior Men’s 8+ racing the Intermediate 8+ category. Since the draw was released the crew were revelling at the prospect of hunting down varsity rivals Cardiff who’d been drawn as the boat the men would be following down the course. After a powerful but shaky start the 8 settled onto a strong rhythm and set about chasing down the boats ahead. As the cox Poppy steered the 8+ onto the final straight it was clear the men had put a considerable dent into Cardiff’s lead as they continued to push to the line. Upping the rate to over 40 in the final 250m the men flew over the line in a time of 9:59.1, finishing 2nd in their category and the 7th fastest boat of the division.
The second SURC crew off the start was the Senior Women’s 8+ in the Women’s Intermediate 8+ category. The crew got off to a good start settled nice and early where they reeled in Nonesuch BC over the opening 1km. The middle section of the race was a tough one as there was some battling to get past the Nonesuch crew but the women, steered by Alice Armstrong making her coxing debut, eventually managed to walk through the crew. After a battle the girls finished in a respectable 5th place.
The third and final boat of Division 1 to start for SURC was the Senior Men’s 4x. For a crew that had only been out together a few times, they put in a great performance. The boat was sat well and the crew responded well the John’s calls from the 2 seat; pushing themselves over the line in 11:10.41 and finished in 3rd place. A great showing from the boys who’ve been putting in the work at the Thomas Pritchard School of Sculling.
After the morning division it was the turn of the novices to take to the water. The Novice Men’s 8 was the first of our boats down the course for Division 2. They finished with a
strong 5th place in a time of 4:22.11. We also had 2 Novice Men’s 4+ one of which unfortunately had a technical issue and had the race with only bow pair rowing, however they still managed 8th out of 9th. The highlight of the day came when the top 4+ won the Men’s Beginner 4+! Beating second place UWE by just over half a second, who seemed rather salty about the result and went to the lengths of complaining to the race officials as they thought our winning 4+ were actually Seniors. This goes to show the strides the squad has made with captain James Foster, and these results show a lot of encouragement.
Following the success from Welsh indoors, the Novice Women were raring to go and were keen to see what they could do on the water. After supporting both senior squads, the novice women had a long hard chat about what to expect and how to attack their races by their captain George. From this they boated and made their way upstream along with the Novice Men. The 1st 8+ were the first to race in the Women’s Beginner 8+ category. An infamous crab at the start of the race halted the girls, but they didn’t let that affect them, they flew down stream and recorded an impressive 2nd place overall (beating Cardiff in the process). The 2nd 8+ had a boat reshuffle on the day of the race as well as a few injuries in the week leading to UBBC Head; therefore the race was the first time they had rowed as a cohesive 8+. They had a stronger start than that of the 1st 8+ and pushed all the way to the finish claiming an impressive 14th.
A great day for the Swans and all squads gained vital race experience. Thanks to University of Bristol BC for running a great event. We'll be back.