Women rowers take centre stage at BUCS Regatta

British university rowing’s big hitters were out in force at the 2013 BUCS Regatta, which featured one of the closest Victor Ludorums to date and the biggest entry for women’s rowing in the event’s history.

Close to 1000 crews travelled to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham for the May 4-6 Regatta, and were rewarded with a weekend of excellent weather and fierce racing.

Imperial College dominated the women’s sculling events, including a gold medal for star rower Mel Wilson in the Championship Single Sculls.

Wilson, who finished sixth in the Team GB Women’s Quadruple Scull at the London 2012 Olympic Games, finished ahead of U23 hopeful Jo Wratten from Teeside – who outlined her growing potential with a hard-fought silver medal.

Imperial also outpaced a very strong Reading crew to claim gold in the Championship Quadruple Sculls, before achieving a remarkable victory in the Championship Doubles.

The Imperial double – featuring Hannah Patterson and Myriam Goudet – was locked in a fierce battle with Robert Gordon University, trailing the RGU crew up to and beyond the 1500m marker. However, at late surge in the final 500m saw the Imperial crew claim the title by a mere 0.2 seconds.

Patterson and Goudet’s feat was all the more impressive given that, just minutes prior to the Doubles final, they had already claimed a silver medal racing in the Women’s Championship Fours.

One of the highlights of a fantastic weekend’s racing came in Sunday’s Women’s Championship Eights, which featured an absorbing return to competition for both Oxford and Cambridge’s Blue boats.

When the two crews met at the Henley Boat Races in March, Oxford enjoyed a comfortable victory against their varsity rivals on the unfamiliar waters of Dorney Lake.

The NWSC crowd were treated to a much closer contest in the Championship final, which also featured a strong Newcastle University crew alongside competitive boats from Reading, Imperial and a first outing in the event for the University of London.

After a fascinating race, Oxford once again claimed the bragging rights – this time just half a second clear of Cambridge.

Newcastle pushed both Oxbridge crews to the very end, however, taking third place with just two seconds separating the top three boats.

Exeter also enjoyed their weekend in the Nottingham sunshine, with a memorable gold in the Women’s Lightweight Quads – crushing the field with an 11-second victory in the final. Two of the LW4x crew had also won bronze medals in the Lightweight Double Sculls, with Exeter also picking up a bronze in the Women’s Lightweight Eights – rounding off an impressive Regatta for the South West students.

The final of the Women’s Beginner Coxed Fours had a distinctly Home Nations feel, with three Scottish crews (one from Edinburgh and two from Glasgow) and two Northern Irish crews (both from Queens Belfast) lining up alongside Southampton Solent.

Edinburgh University took the top spot, with Southampton Solent winning a memorable bronze – their first ever women’s medal at a BUCS Regatta.

In the men’s events, Newcastle sealed a historic treble in the Men’s Championship Eights – winning the blue riband race for a third consecutive year. The blockbuster crew will now look to compete in September’s EUSA Rowing Championships, in Poland.

Gold in the Men’s Beginner Eights went to the University of the West of England, who looked strong throughout the racing.

However, despite a host of excellent performances from the 40+ universities represented at the Regatta (most notably from Imperial) the final plaudits from a captivating weekend of rowing went to Durham University – the traditional powerhouse of the BUCS Regatta.

Gold medals in the Men’s Beginner Coxed Four and Women’s Eights were added to a dominant display in the men’s sculling competition – Angus Groom winning gold in the Championship Single, Double and Quadruple Sculls.

In all, Durham amassed a haul of 12 gold, six silver and four bronze medals to claim the 2013 Victor Ludorum – the University’s 10th consecutive triumph in the Regatta’s overall medal table.

They were pushed the whole way by a small but very impressive Imperial squad, whose 10 gold, five silver and two bronze medals saw them fall agonisingly short of Durham’s 1114 Victor Ludorum points by just 56 points.

The closest Victor Ludorum race in recent years, Durham’s elation at the end of the Regatta aptly illustrated the monumental effort required to top this table this year.

For more a full list of results from the 2013 BUCS Regatta, visit www.bucs.org.uk/calendar_popup.asp?section=10&sectionTitle=Events&itemid=10800&surround=true. Photos and videos from the event can be found at www.facebook.com/wessexrowing.