Saturday saw the first St Andrews crews in action at BUCS Head on the River Tyne down in Newcastle. Saturday is a novice racing day at the event, so it was the novice men and women who were out in force putting in the first showing in the two divisons across the course of the day. We have developed a tradition for smaller novice squads here at St Andrews in the last few years, unfortunately limited by equipment constraints. It is the novice women that have been the larger of the two squads over the last few months, consistently training in the 8+, a step on from the last few years of novice rowing. The novice men have been a mix of sculling and sweep in the last few months, mostly sculling but making a swift transition to sweep rowing in more recent weeks.
The women fielded boats in the WB4x, WB4+ and WB8+, while the men fielded a MB4+. The WB4x and WB4+ fielded 9th and 12th respectively, a hugely impressive start to the racing weekend and a strong opening showing racing in smaller boats, having only raced previously in the 8+ last weekend at Aberdeen Eights Head. The eights focused work in the last few months paid off with the girls placing 8th overall in that event. The MB4+ placed 17th in their event, a good showing for the boys at this stage of the year.
It was a good opening show from the novices, but with space to improve across the board, these are crews to watch as the season develops, most are back out racing tomorrow to get some more racing experience.
Sunday saw our senior athletes out in force on the River Tyne alongside some novice performances in the senior categories to wrap up the BUCS Head weekend. We had entries fielded in WC4+, WInt8+, WInt4+, MInt4+, MInt4x and MCLwt4x. Year on year, we are delighted to be hugely expanding our entries at major competitions and we were pleased to be fielding boats across a spectrum of categories.
The senior women, similar to the novices, have enjoyed more consistent training opportunities in the 8+ this last semester, putting in a superb 5th place finish in WInt8+, this was just behind Edinburgh University and top finishes for UL, Newcastle and Bristol. The MCLwt4x also found great success on the water, placing 5th, just 4 seconds behind Sussex and defeating Bristol, Bath and Exeter RC.
The WC4+ were less lucky in their event, placing 7th amongst very tough competition from the top clubs in the UK, we had hoped to repeat last years 3rd place in this event but with a long season remaining, the girls are still one to watch as the club breaks into consistent appearances in top categories at events throughout the season.
The consistent focus on sculling paid off for the men once again in their MInt4x category, in which the boys placed 9th out of 23 crews, a good performance with more scope to improve as the season develops. It was a club record to be fielding four crews in the WInt4+ category, two senior outside of our champ entry and two novice crews to expand their racing experience. With conditions deteriorating rapidly, as is common on the Tyne, the second novice four scrapped, leaving St Andrews with 3 crews entered.
The senior crews placed 13th and 20th while the novices placed 25th out of 34 crews, a brilliant effort across the board from all crews and brilliant to see huge novice potential in these senior categories.
In MInt4+ we fielded two crews, one boat of senior men and one boat of novice men. The senior men placed 15th while the novice men placed 35th out of 38 crews. The senior crew raced well amongst stiff competition and the focus on sculling in recent months placed a greater emphasis on our sculling results this past weekend. The novices also faired well in a senior category and it was a useful opportunity to get further racing experience.
We fielded two eights in WInt8+ in the first division, one senior and one novice. The seniors, as mentioned, put in a storming performance finishing 9th while the novices also placed well in this senior event, placing 38th out of 44 crews, defeating some senior university crews.
All in all, a weekend of good performances from our athletes, just outside of the top spots in a few areas, but a superb performance from the WInt8+ sets us well for WeHoRR in a few weeks time, alongside sculling work paying dividends for the men in a number of categories.