UStABC in 2021: Our Year in Review

Alice Vine
Friday 31 December 2021

2021 started with members spread across the globe, many people were training alone and without access to ergs or boats. By the end of the year, we were almost returned to normal with months of training,  some excellent racing and many memorable moments in between. This is an extensive review of our year, covering all that UStABC has achieved in these unprecedented times

As those that were able slowly returned to St Andrews in the spring, training was only able to take place outside and erging was only possible alone or in pairs. A huge thanks must go to our Scott for leading us through outdoor S&C sessions in the snow, hail, torrential rain and the odd heat wave! We had a small number of people able to access sessions in singles at the loch in April, which was a welcome return although still a long way from being able to run full club sessions. 

As restrictions eased, athletes were able to return to more normal water training at the beginning of May, which was the start of two months of intense water training to ready us for competition again after being away from the loch for so long. Under new Director of Rowing Alan the crews came together, and at the end of June we travelled south to Nottingham to race at BUCS.

BUCS Regatta

Day one saw the Men’s Intermediate Quad winning the bronze medal in a nail-biting final, as well as a very close 4th place for the Women’s Intermediate Double, and an impressive 5th for Erik in the Men’s Beginner2 Single. Strong performances in the minor finals demonstrated excellent strength in depth, with the Men’s Second Quad reaching the B Final, the Women’s Second Double storming to a win in the C Final. A fantastic race from the Women’s Intermediate Four in their C Final was particularly impressive given it was a first ever race for half the crew, and all four were homegrown graduates of the St Andrews Novice Programme.

Day two saw some equally exciting racing. The Women’s A, B and C Intermediate Pairs reached the A, Cand D finals respectively, with Jodie and Lydia racing well to place 5thoverall in a competitive event. The Women’s Intermediate Quad raced well to reach the semi-finals, although their final race was unfortunately cut short due to injury. Saturday was the third and final day of racing. Jodie placed sixth in the Women’s Championship Lightweight Singles against a stacked field, whilst the Men’s doubles raced well to place5th in the A final and to take the win in the B Final. The last race of the competition featuring UStABC was the Men’s Four’s F Final, where they produced a stand out performance in front on the rest of the club who were cheering them on from the banks. With three out of four crew members being ex-St Andrews novices and never having raced before, it was a very impressive performance!

BUCS was a fantastic return to racing, and the club’s enthusiasm and support for each other made for a very memorable weekend.

Henley Women’s and Henley Royal Regatta

After BUCS the Women’s Squad headed down to Henley to train before Henley Women’s Regatta commenced on the Friday. The club had two crews racing: Jodie in the Aspirational Lightweight Single and a Development Coxed Four of Florence, Min, Kirstin, Marissa and Olivia (c). The Four were the fastest non-qualifiers after their time trial, a fantastically close performance from them in a large and competitive field. Jodie progressed to the Quarter Finals after beating Edinburgh University in the first round, equalling the club’s furthest progression at the regatta.

A month later it was the turn of the Men’s squad to race in Henley, in the Prince of Wales trophy. The Quad raced superbly to beat The Windsorian Boat Club on the Thursday, before being knocked out by the eventual winners Leander the next day It was fantastic to see such a high quality crew from St Andrews racing at such a high level, and alumni and club supporters up and down the banks were there to cheer them on proudly.

Coastal Rowing: A new adventure for UStABC

Our first tase of Coastal Rowing was at the British Rowing Offshore Championships in July, where a small number of athletes headed down to Exmouth to take part. The first two days comprised of the offshore element, which was a challenging event, having to battle against the current and endure the long distance, but they all thoroughly their experience, with Harriet and Jodie winning a Silver Medal in the Women’s Double event. 

The third day of the championships was beach sprint day, which was a completely different experience from the offshore element. This involved starting the race on the beach and running down into the sea into your boat, sprinting 500 metres and then jumping out of the boat to run back up the beach to hit a buzzer. Jodie and Ryan were very successful in their mixed double, coming away with a second Silver Medal. In addition, Jodie added to her medal collection from the weekend by winning an impressive gold in the women’s single category, before being invited to join the GB Coastal Development Group. The weekend was a great success as a great introduction to this new form of rowing, as well as being a stand out result among university clubs. 

From the success of the club at BROC, an excited anticipation for the start of the coastal programme built, and we were keen to establish Coastal Rowing as a regular part of training, and to get out as much as possible and explore some of the Fife coastline. 

The access to boats in St Andrews itself means that members of the club are able to get out in boats in a more informal setting and water sessions are more flexible for those who are busy with academic pressures. With the sea right on our doorstops, coastal rowing is an obvious way to get out on the water more often. The unpredictability of the sea and the challenges that it presents whilst rowing allows for a more adventurous time on the water and a way for everyone to improve on their technique in challenging conditions. 

We are very lucky to have some brand new coastal boats to help us with this, and we are currently raising money for essential safety equipment that will allow us to continue to use them all year round. For more info on our NAME OUR BOATS fundraiser, take a look here:

2021-22 Season and Autumn Head Racing:

In September we returned to something resembling normality. We were able to host our usual Orientation Week events and the novice programme is up and running again! The return of head racing was the highpoint of the new season however, with the club appearing at both Aberdeen and Inverness Heads in November. 

A cold and blustery day in Aberdeen made for some challenging conditions, but the rough conditions at Lochore had us well prepared. Strong races from the Men’s Quad, featuring super sub Cameron Buchan, and Women’s Fours meant we came away with three wins. Unfortunately the weather meant the second day of racing in small bats was cancelled, but it was still a productive and successful weekend, showing great tenacity in tough conditions. It was great to see so many people racing, and the first opportunity to represent the club for many!

Two weeks later, the conditions in Inverness were very calm, with no wind and only a little rain! A win for Lydia in the Women’s Singles on the Saturday was our only win of the weekend, but there were a host of closely fought second and third places, showing great promise across the squads and a great time was had by all. 

From Inverness it was back training on land, as storms Arwen and Barry made Lochore unrowable. However, Christmas Dinner returned with a bang to go ahead as normal this year providing a break from revision and the lack of water time. It was great to see everyone together for the first time in a long time, and to properly welcome new members and welcome back some old ones too! It certainly ended the year on a high! 

We look forward to returning to St Andrews in the next few weeks and seeing what the rest of the season has to offer! A huge thanks to everyone who supported us in 2021.

From all at UStABC, Happy New Year!

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