by Joanna Thom
Durham University Boat Club gained a stunning victory at the BUCS Rowing Championships at Holme Pierrepont during the bank holiday weekend.
Heading to Nottingham to defend the Victor Ludorum, a title the club has held for the past nine years, they were fully aware they faced stiff competition from clubs that did not want to see them raise the trophy for a record-breaking tenth year.
The Victor Ludorum is presented to the overall winners of the three-day regatta, with points earned dependent on results, boat size and category, with championship events gaining the most points.
While the first day started well, with gold won in the men’s beginner coxed four, and the men’s intermediate and championship singles. Despite this and a host of silvers, Durham still trailed Imperial College in the trophy standings.
However, Durham came back with a point to prove on Sunday, and managed to secure gold in the men’s coxed fours, the women’s lightweight coxless fours, the women’s intermediate single and the men’s championship double, narrowing the gap to just two points behind Imperial. The fresher women showed their ability by securing the winning time in the beginner coxed fours, despite not being allowed to enter the final.
With a similar number of events entered by both teams, Monday’s final day of racing was always going to be tight. Despite initial doubt by rival universities, Durham showed their class by dominating in the finals.
With wins in the women’s championship coxless fours, the men’s championship quad, the women’s beginner eight, the men’s championship pair and the women’s lightweight pair, Durham pushed ahead to a 56-point victory, showing why they deserved to hold the trophy for a tenth year.
As well as claiming the Victor Ludorum, Durham also proved to any sceptics that they truly do have the best rowing programme in the country. The Palatinates gained the most BUCS points, topped the medal table with 22 medals to Imperial’s seventeen, and took home twelve golds – two more than their nearest rivals.
Eve Newton discussed the success of the women’s championship coxless four on the final day: “We knew from the outset that we had the potential, it was just a matter of pulling it off on the day. We had two great qualifying races and in the final it all fell into place and by 500m we were two lengths up over strong rivals Imperial.
“Crossing the line as BUCS champions after four years of working towards that moment was a phenomenal feeling, and retaining the VL and qualifying for EUSA is the icing on the cake for my rowing career at DUBC.”
This medal haul also far exceeded that of recent years. The team were supported by their team of coaches, led by Wade Hall-Craggs and including Cameron Kennedy and Don Leclair who coach the women and men’s squads respectively, as well as Lee Fisher and Franz Imfeld who coach the fresher programme.
Also present were a team of volunteers, including DUBC alumni, who ensured that there was a constant supply of food to fuel the athletes. Additionally, the work of the executive committee, most notably president Lucy Glendinning and vice president Lewis Weaver, enabled the weekend to run smoothly.
Heather Nickson, captain of the women’s squad and gold medal winner in the lightweight coxless four said: “It was hard work but all the blood, sweat, tears and difficult times we have had this year were made worthwhile and made winning even sweeter. I couldn’t ask for anything more – I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
“I am so proud to be a part of this and rowing with such a great bunch of people. DUBC really came together and performed.”
All athletes present at the regatta demonstrated the quality of their training and the hard work they put in. Balancing their academic commitments with a heavy training schedule takes a huge amount of effort and commitment. With Imperial College in second place, local rivals Newcastle had to settle for fourth after being overtaken by the University of London boat club.
Barney Stentiford, who won both the men’s championship double and quad, and also the men’s intermediate single said: “I’ve waited four years for a championship medal and this year I’ve won two. I couldn’t be happier.”
Lucy Glendinning, President of the Boat Club, added: “DUBC can proudly say they are the best rowing university in the country. Our athletes did an outstanding job and the VL is ours for the tenth year in a row because of quality!
“I am so proud of the entire DUBC team and would like to thank the athletes, coaches and exec for working so hard. Bring on the 11th!”