UCBC newsletter TT22
The first Univ Women’s Headship in history!
I thought we might as well just open with that, as it is kind of a big deal. If you were ever looking for an example of what is so great about this club, I would recommend that this Summer Eights would be a good place to start. W1 taking headship is undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements of the boat club and is a testament to the state that the club is in, with a fantastic program under head coach Jono, and our ever-improving fleet.
If asked to describe the ingredients required for winning a headship, one might naively suggest it requires a large helping of Blues, with a side of school rowers and perhaps one seat of college talent to finish. W1 proved that while a load of Blues might be nice, home-grown Univ talent is also more than up to the task. The amount that W1 achieved this year, off their own hard work, dedication and training, has been nothing short of a privilege to watch (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly jealous). The headship also marked the end of outgoing President Hannah Farley’s decade long career at UCBC, and I don’t think there could’ve been a more Hannah way to end it.
While, spoiler alert, there was no headship to report on the men’s side this year, the same hard work and dedication was present. I’m confident that next season, we’ll finally have some bumps results to show for it, but I’ll leave it up to the Men’s Captain’s report to detail some of the highs and lows of this term.
Another great success of this season is the depth now present in the club, with UCBC both fielding and qualifying, 4 men’s and 4 women’s boats for Summer Eights. This, combined with the relatively low numbers of leaving members, means that the club is in a very exciting position for next year. I’m confident that our incoming Vice-Captains can replicate this year’s excellent novice intake, although, where we are going to do with all these new novices, I have no idea (10 boats in summer eights next year?).
As always, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported this club, in any capacity, over this last year (including but not limited to the: Senior Members, FoUCBC, Coaches and College). It has been an amazing season for all of us who have had the pleasure to enjoy it, and none of it would be possible without the support we receive, so on behalf of us all, thank you.
I think this is probably enough overviewing from me, please read on and enjoy the much better, more detailed and far more eloquent reports from our stellar new committee, as well as an inaugural report from the Martlet Club (details for joining should be available on the website, if not also elsewhere).
Andy Bridger – President 2022-2023
From the Women's Captain
After the many successes of Hilary Term, the tour de force that is Univ W1 came back even stronger and made history yet again this Trinity, winning headship on the women’s side for the very first time. Standing amongst fellow Univ rowers and supporters on the rafts of Univ Boathouse on the Saturday of Eights and watching our crew row-over at headship truly was one of the most exciting and proudest moments of my time at UCBC so far, and I’m sure the same could be said for many of the other rowers, friends, and Old Members gathered on the banks of the Isis for the first time since Summer Eights 2019.
Summer Eights wasn’t the only success for W1 this term. The bumps began as early as Week 1, where Univ entered a 4+ into Oxford City Bumps and finally got that first bump on Wolfson, setting the tone for the bumps campaign to come. Starting at 4th place in Div 1, over the four races Univ’s City Bumps 4+ bumped to 3rd place, making them the highest placed college crew with only Oxford Academicals RC and Wallingford RC out ahead, a challenge perhaps for next year.
A week later, W1 were off to Nottingham to compete at BUCS regatta, where the best crews from British universities and colleges had gathered to race the 2 km stretch at the National Water Sports Centre. A successful time trial of 06:05.1 placed the crew 26th out of the 43 university-squad level crews competing in the Intermediate 8+ category. Unfortunately, a broken rudder prevented the crew from racing in their final, however, to place amongst crews performing at the university level is truly exceptional for our college crew.
Just one week later, and with a fully repaired rudder, W1 returned to continue their racing success at Bedford Regatta. Valiant races against strong Cambridge college crews (Jesus and Pembroke) resulted in Univ winning the Women’s Open Eights (Band 2) category and earned the crew some new silverware!
The focus of the following weeks turned to Summer Eights. The crew began at 4th place, owing to the success of the W1 of Trinity 2019; the last time Summer Eights was able to safely go ahead. Over the first three days of Eights, Univ bumped Pembroke, Wadham, and Wolfson, before then rowing over on day four. These bumps were by no means easy: On day two, an exciting four boat sandwich between Christchurch, Univ, Wadham, and Wolfson unfolded at Boathouse Island, before Univ got the bump on Wadham before the finish line. Upon landing the boat on the Saturday, the celebrations truly began, with prosecco in near-constant supply until well into the night.
Indeed, there was plenty to celebrate. Overall, the Women’s side entered four boats in total into Summer Eights, the successes of each will be covered in our Vice-Captains report. The hard work and dedication of our coach Jono must also be celebrated, as there is no doubt that Univ would not be where it is today without him.
Finally, a celebration of all the crews of recent years who have contributed to the steady climb up the divisions of both Torpids and Eights, providing the foundations from which Univ Women have been so successful this year, and hope to be in the future.
Trinity Term would of course not be complete without a trip to Henley. The crew rowed an impressive time trial of 05:15.8 at Henley Women’s Regatta, but the return of international crews meant that this what not enough to qualify. Despite this, Univ were still the fastest college-level crew in their division, and we hope to carry this success into regattas occurring over the summer vacation.
I hope you have enjoyed following the many successes of the women’s side of UCBC this year, and I hope to be writing to you next year with even more triumphs and successes. Until then, we look forward to welcoming the next round of novice rowers in Michaelmas Term, and to continuing with all our hard work and training so that the success of UCBC continues, and grows, in the years to come.
Becca Tanner – Women’s Captain 2022-23
From the Men's Captain
Coming hot out of a near blades experience in torpids, and bolstered by the so-near-they-got-them blades experiences of the other men’s crews, our first eight hit the ground running as trinity dawned. With a fleet of small boats training over the vac and everyone out of Oxford staying active through another well-received training challenge, there was stiff competition for the four M1 seats on offer. Trialling was drawn out slightly longer than planned due to the fierce competition and some unexpected absences from Oxford, but by halfway through 1st week an 8+ was set, and the summer campaign well and truly underway.
Despite missing out on early race experience at Bedford due to President Andy Bridger making the selfish decision to graduate from his degree and several other crew members being unavailable, the crew came together quickly, toppling Strava PBs and generally making boats move fast. The first test of this chemistry was to come on the first day of eights; M1 were going into the campaign with no concept of their speed, or of the crews around them.
The first day went off with a bang – a blisteringly quick effort saw them closing on just about everything else that floated on the river, eventually finishing just two lengths off of Teddy, who had initially started up 6 bunglines on our boat. With this storming performance, spirits were high on landing; nothing could have gone better. Until, over the tannoy, comes news – a bump! Catz had not bumped out on a crew as was initially believed but the bank, and as such day one saw Univ +1 and staring potential blades in the eye. At least, until 13 rounds of OURCs committee escalation and 18h had passed, at which point came the crushing news that the bump did not stand.
Despite their disappointment, the boys were ready for another 1.8km effort on the Thursday, and another big push. 1.8 strokes off the start, however, strokeside and the bank become rather good friends, and Magdalen were able to get a row past bump, knocking M1 down to the 12th bungline and bottom of the division.
Determined to right the wrongs of the first two days, our boat put in an aggressive chase on Magdalen, taking a large chunk out of our bow on their stern as a three boat sandwich came together. Once again, the forces of bureaucracy dictated that no bump had been achieved, this time as Magdalen had got Trinity first, and as such we were left with a technical row over, and an on-for-spoons Trinity starting in front. Saturday saw a lightning quick bump on Trinity, with their concession coming before the CORC boathouse. This put them back onto bungline 11, meaning M1 had net 0 movement through bumps. A deeply frustrating experience, but a chance to movement through bumps. A deeply frustrating experience, but a chance to learn a lot about rowing and to come together as a crew.
Having recognised the futility of getting a fair competition from bumps, the boys set their sights on some real racing, taking an eight to Met regatta the following weekend. With two M2 subs in the boat and a strong crosswind (something so highly unusual for Dorney) the conditions were tough, but the guys were tougher – a strong performance saw an E final finish, with the boys beating several university crews – including Bath (A) in a fiercely fought final.
This set the stage for Wolfson M1 to once again approach us regarding the possibility of a composite VIII for HRR. Excited at the prospect of high-level competition, we gladly accepted, offering five rowers to their three rowers, a boat and a cox. With just a few short weeks until the racing began, time was of the essence, and every session with the crew counted. We unfortunately had to wave goodbye to the mighty Bernd Sturdza, who decided to leave the Wolfniv rocket to work on actual rockets at NASA, but fortunately Wolfson were able to pull a six-time Henley entrant out of the woodwork, and with a full crew the campaign was underway.
The first test of the Wolfniv boat was to come at Marlow regatta, and it is safe to say that they rose to the occasion. A gutsy time trial performance saw them winning band 3 eights by a margin of two finals, as well as officially becoming the fastest crew to make its way off of the Isis this year – an achievement that is testament to Univ’s training program this season.
I write this on the eve of Henley qualifiers; by the time you read this our fates will almost certainly have been sealed. If we qualify, we hope to see many familiar faces lining the banks of the Thames, and if we do not then we will carry the experience forward into next year; I am filled with excitement at what this squad has to offer, and consider entering a purely Univ VIII to HRR next summer a firm goal.
I’d just like to take this opportunity, as always, to pass thanks to everyone that made this season possible, and has been here to support the Men’s side in the tougher moments and to celebrate the successes. There are far too many to name, but in particular I would like to single out the out-going Men’s captain Andy Bridger, who has led the club so brilliantly for the past three years (or so I’m told – I can only testify to the last year!); our amazing coach Jono Cheeseman, whose left-field coaching style of speaking entirely in metaphor has once again lifted the club to new heights; our ever-reliable subs Sophie Wicken, Amy Hughes and George Crooks (plus the many members of M2 who joined us) and to the women’s side, who through their friendship, their success (and their set boats) have inspired and lifted the mighty M1. It would be remiss for me to not mention their phenomenal achievement of taking headship, congratulations once again for this.
Lloyd Arnold – Men’s Captain 2022-23
From the Women's Vice-Captains
This year we are delighted to say that Univ managed to field three strong lower women’s boats in Sumer VIIIs.
Surrounded by first boats in division 3, W2 were keen to perform strongly and put in a gutsy row every single day. With the sun shining, the girls commenced their summer VIII’s campaign as they meant to go on. Following an extremely powerful start, they managed to bump St Anthony’s within the first ten strokes! The next day, the girls were chasing Worcester W1 and following another good start, Univ quickly began to gain on them. As the two boats entered the gut Univ continued to edge closer but Worcester dug deep and were able to hold them off. On day 3, the girls returned hungry for the bump and ready for a hard-fought race. A change of race tactics meant that the plan was to go for the bump early by emptying the tank on the front.
Unfortunately, a solid performance by Worcester meant that ‘Argy’s Angels’ had to give absolutely everything in order to power through to the end. Although St Anthony’s began closing, the girls fought intensely to the line and managed to row over. Univ were determined not to let St Anthony’s bump them on the final day and after a stellar performance rowed over again finishing as the second-highest W2 boat on the river!
W3 likewise got off to a fantastic start bumping almost immediately. The second day proved slightly more challenging as Univ were chasing Peter’s who had overbumped the previous day. Although the girls were looking very powerful and closing in on Peter’s they were not quite able to catch them before Peter’s bumped out. The girls continued their strong performance to the end and rowed over.
Wolfson were hot on Univ’s tail on day 3, nearly bumping the girls twice however Univ battled hard and managed to pull away. Unfortunately, in the latter half of the race, the exhausted Univ crew succumbed to Wolfson’s relentless pursuit and were eventually bumped. On the final day, the girls emptied the tank but were bumped by a very strong Osler House crew just before Donny Bridge.
Univ was also very proud to field a women’s beer boat this summer VIII’s campaign. Led and organised by the mighty Sophie Wicken and seeing the return of many beloved alumni including Pippa Biggs, Amy Hughes, Nina Handzewniak and Iona Davies, and completed with members from our W4 and others who abandoned rowing but were roped back in, it was no surprise that it was going to perform brilliantly! Coxed fearlessly by Hannah Asiki and Shirley-Ann Mason, it was a real pleasure to row with.
On the first day, the draw was tough and despite giving Bennet’s W1 a good chase, it wasn’t meant to be and everyone bumped out in front of them, so the day was concluded with a very powerful row over, keeping Merton W2 at bay the whole time.
However, it was only upwards from here, with bumps achieved on Hilda’s W2 on Day 2, Exeter W2 on Day 3 and Oriel W3 on Day 4, all before ever exiting the gut! The girls wore incredible t-shirts stating “high tides and good vibes” and that is indeed how the week felt. Congrats to all and once again thank you to Sophie Wicken for organising and Andy Bridger for bank riding!
The lower boats would not have had such a successful Trinity term were it not for the hard work of Chloe Bardou, the 2021-2022 women’s vice-captain who truly went above and beyond for the club. Special thanks also to Argy, the fantastic W2 coach, and Ruth and Pippa, whose support, commitment and invaluable coaching to the lower boats ensured the success of Univ’s women’s summer VIII’s campaigns.
Alex Jones and Louisa Boult – Women’s Vice-Captains 2022-23
From the Men's Vice-Captains
Building on the momentum of Torpids and fielding four boats for the first time since 2016, the Univ men’s side put its full depth on show for Summer Eights. M2 and M3—having both won blades in March—were looking to repeat the performance. The Beer Boat, meanwhile, was ready for a triumphant return to Eights, fresh off a four year hiatus filled with intense and laborious training.
Some “ferocious coaching” from Claire Holubowskyj saw M2 hold up remarkably well at the top of Division IV, despite being surrounded by tough competition. Indeed, some anonymous viewers were so impressed that they mistook M2 for the German national team (thanks in part, perhaps, to their absolutely-not-shaky standing shoves). Fending off advances from New College’s M2, they hunted down and nearly caught Green Templeton’s M1 on Wednesday, crossing the finish line only a canvas behind. On Thursday, an easy bump for Green Templeton left Univ with the difficult job of overbumping. Despite a valiant effort, they only managed to row over and hold their position.
Friday finally brought victory, with a clean and clinical bump on Teddy Hall’s M2. The success carried through into Saturday, with a bump on Wadham’s M2 giving Univ a chance to secure their place in Division III. Alas, history repeated itself: Green Templeton bumped out early and scuppered Univ’s chance at a place in the higher division. With the depth of novice talent on display, though, M2 hope to have little trouble breaking into division III next year.
M3 started the week equally optimistic. After the Torpids campaign to beat all Torpids campaigns, they hoped to replicate their successes in Eights. Unfortunately, despite coaching from the Univ greats of Bernd Sturdza and Pippa Biggs, they couldn’t quite catch Keble on Wednesday. Hoping for some free speed, the boat was bow-rigged on Thursday, putting reliable Miles Bishop into the stroke-seat. This strategic play, however, failed to hold back Balliol on Thursday or Oriel on Friday. Or perhaps, after moving up six places in Torpids, the crew simply felt it was worth giving their cox some practice conceding. At any rate, they soon discovered the real trick was the wearing of party hats. With this innovation on their side they managed to hold off Christ Church’s mighty M3 on Saturday. So, whilst they were unable to quite reach the lofty heights of torpids, the spirits of the crew never dampened.
Finally, the Beer Boat started third last on the river after a good effort in rowing on. Seemingly, they had nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, on Wednesday they went down, victims of a surgical bump by the blades winning Jesus M3. For the rest of the week, though, the men of M4 put in a good shift. Chasing St. Peter’s M3 and holding off New M4, they rowed over every day and narrowly avoided the glory of footship.
Gregory Cuff and Nic Steyn – Men’s Vice-Captains 2022-23
From the Social Secretary
UCBC’s social scene has been as epic as ever this trinity term. The term started strong with a wonderful rowing related pre summer eights
pub Goodhart seminar room quiz which was relished and revered by the common M3 man and world champions alike. After a fantastic bumps campaign which everyone (especially M1) enjoyed, Summer VIIIs dinner was a resounding success. With a variety of blazers on display, some looking resoundingly better than others, it was apparent everyone was excited for one of the few occasions a year where donning said blazer is socially acceptable. Starting with the christening of the newest boat in the UCBC fleet and ending with Michael Collins on a table with undergraduates drinking their way through far too many speeches, it was nice to see that finally everything had finally returned to how it once was. With wonderful food and incredibly witty chat booklets, it was certainly not an event to be missed.
As I’m sure you’ve already seen, our very own W1 are now head of the river. This meant, of course, celebrations were in order. Keeping with tradition, a boat was burned and, somewhat more importantly, an origami boat making competition was held. The standards of boats produced was pretty low, and it was clear many of W1 have no idea what a boat actually looks like despite spending an unreasonable amount of time inside of one. Some stooped so low as to cheat on this traditional and ceremonial event. However, a special mention must be given to Hannah A for winning the first ever women’s headship origami competition. After this everyone had worked up a substantial appetite so feasted on a magnificent barbeque.
Looking onwards, I am cautiously optimistic about the year to come. Although new diseases seem to be making headlines every day, I am certain future events of cultural significance such as wings Wednesday will not be impacted. I can only hope that this year’s incoming freshers, as well as even the most aged PhD students, will be able to experience all that UCBC’s social scene has to offer, and I will do my upmost to facilitate this.
Bertie Coomber – Social Secretary 2022-23
The Martlet Club
This year has been an exciting time for alumni of UCBC, with the formation of the Martlet Club, a British Rowing club established to allow alumni of Univ to race for the college in external regattas and local events.
Ahead of Trinity, the Martlet Club competed in a quad (consisting of recent leavers and the UCBC president: Pippa Biggs, Amy Hughes, Sophie Wicken and Hannah Farley, respectively) at Henley Sculls, Fours Head and Monmouth Head; placing competitively in all and winning their category in the latter. The mighty quad, joined by the Women’s Captain, Charlie Kniebe-Evans (whilst Pippa was off winning her Varsity race for UCL) also battled through “the worst conditions we have ever raced in” at Kingston Head, that witnessed the end of Hannah’s beloved visor, a near-sinking and a desperate cry of “Oh my God, please no” from Charlie. Nonetheless, the quad finished their race with a respectable time.
Although Trinity term was a bit quieter for the Martlet Club as water time was dedicated to the Summer Eights crews, it didn’t stop the danger double (AKA Sophie Wicken and Amy Hughes) competing in their first double event (without crashing may I add!) and Pippa Biggs placing second in the women’s single category at Bedford Regatta.
Determined to relive their glory days and to avoid FOMO during Eights Week, Sophie, Amy, and Pippa, with the help of the VC Chloe, formed a mighty beer boat for Summer Eights. This consisted of 18 rowers including finalists, alumni and novices. Being the second fastest boat at rowing on meant they had to swap positions on the river with w3, confusing everyone. After a tough first day in which all the crews ahead of them bumped out meaning they had to row over, they proceeded to bump by Donny Bridge every other day, leaving the crew up three places at the end of the week. #hightidesandgoodvibes
We look forward to expanding our ranks and welcoming back more members in the next year. For more information on joining the Martlet Club and future events or external races or if you are interested in joining the committee (we are on the lookout for a Treasurer!), please contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Wicken – Martlet Club Captain
Univ's University Rowers
UCBC proudly supports Univ athletes who pursue racing with the University squads. This academic year, Matthew Hudson and Nick Ryan have been representing Oxford University Lightweights and Nick has kindly summarised their year of success:
Returning to the Tideway for my fourth Lightweight Boat Race after a year at Ely, I sadly lost my unbeaten record as we slipped to a defeat against a quick Cambridge crew. There was still plenty of the season left and we regrouped to have a good weekend at BUCS where I came fourth in the lightweight single, then picked up bronzes in both the lightweight double and quad. Matt also picked up a silver medal in the lightweight 4-. This being my final year as an under 23, I harboured ambitions of picking up a GB vest and although I was the fifth-fastest lightweight sculler in the country, it looks like I will just miss out on this goal. The season was rounded off with an entry into the Prince of Wales (intermediate coxless quads) at Henley Royal Regatta where we faced Hartpury University in our first round.
UCBC Alumni Ironman in Memory of James Townley
On Friday 21 September 2012, our dear friend James Townley died whilst serving in Afghanistan on his third tour. James was a much loved son, brother and friend and approaching 10 years since his passing we all still miss him terribly. James read Engineering and Computer Science at Univ before joining PWC and then the Army where he was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers.
All those that knew James will know how much he loved his sport and competition. He enjoyed a wide variety of sports including rowing, skiing, mountain biking, kite surfing and sailing. He was exceptionally good at all of them too!! During his four years at Univ he rowed for UCBC and inspired a whole generation of rowers at the club.
James had entered an Ironman and was due to compete himself after returning from his tour in Afghanistan. To mark the 10 year anniversary of his passing UCBC old members Neil Slinger and Pete Smith have decided to compete in the Barcelona Ironman on 2 October 2022 in his memory.
Upon consultation with his family, Neil and Pete have decided to raise money and awareness for the charity Combat Stress. They are the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health. For over a century, they’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They’re on a mission to raise awareness that invisible injuries can be just as hard to cope with as physical ones. So when a veteran is having a tough time, they’re there to help them tackle the past and take on the future.
Neil and Pete have setup a GoFundMe page for anyone interested in making a donation – it will be updated further over the coming weeks.
More updates to come including training preparations as they build up to the event.
Visit the new UCBC website at univboatclub.com
Download the UCBC TT22 newsletter
Published: 12 July 2022