This year’s BUCS Championship and Beginner’s Head was a successful one for Imperial. There were three golds, two silvers and two bronzes, as well as several other top ten placings.
Most students doubled and even tripled up in crews, racing down the 5km head course against the stream on Peterborough’s Nene River in snowy conditions.
After being cancelled due to bad weather last year, it was with great trepidation that a poor forecast was predicted over the weekend. Luckily, coach Stuart Whitelaw’s years of experience knew how to motivate a squad in the face of such conditions; “Be prepared for a long day in cold, damp conditions with very few facilities within walking distance.” Off the back of such inspiration the novice squad set the ball rolling in style on Saturday claiming a bronze medal in the MB8+.
The crew were split into fours for the second division racing as coxed boats. IC A performed well placing 5th, while IC B became the victims of a Southampton cox who veered into the crew losing them valuable time. They settled for 14th.
On Sunday morning the senior men’s crews awoke to a snow-covered Peterborough and were still reeling from the injury of Henry Goodier the previous day in a practice paddle.
It was the lightweight squad who brought home the bacon, winning gold in the LM4x and collecting silver in the LM4-. Drama had unfolded earlier back at the hotel when it was discovered that the weighing scales had been forgotten resulting in a very light breakfast for the paranoid crew.
The first division bore the brunt of the bad weather with hypothermia claiming another BUCS athlete who had to be rescued from his boat. This resulted in all other crews having to wait in the heavily falling snow.
The MC4+ were stranded for over 45 minutes and according to Bellion, bowman Andy Gordon was horrified: “Man, it’s like the coldest thing ever. I can’t do this for much longer.” Gordon was so traumatised by the whole experience that the quad in the second division had to scratch.
Meanwhile Alex Gillies was causing a fuss at not being allowed to race in skins. Despite the cold the MC4+ managed a solid bronze. Steele is alleged to have informed a slightly concerned Bellion that: “I loved stroking you.” When asked about it later Bellion was adamant: “The pleasure was all his.”
The MC8+ placed fifth in 15:31 behind winners Oxford Brookes while the MI8+ finished fourth, also behind a winning Oxford Brookes crew. The MC4+ had packed their cans of Whoopass as requested and took gold in 16:45 ahead of Reading in 17:07.
With only 5 Imperial students in the women’s squad it was only possible to enter two boats, of which both medalled. The result of the day went to the WC4+ who won their event in 19:38, 01:26 ahead of Nottingham Trent who took silver. This was also faster than the winning WC4- (Cardiff: 19:42).
The WC4x took silver behind a strong Durham crew. Staying in peak physical condition to ward off possible seat threats has taken its toll on Christina Duffy who will be wearing her yet to arrive medals for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day ICBC scored 106 BUCS points for Imperial (third overall) behind Reading (115) and Durham (130). ICBC continues to edge closer to the top ranked university and looks forward to a successful season off the back of these strong results.