Six Golds, One Silver and One Bronze!
Over the bank holiday weekend, Queen’s Rowing were doing anything but resting, as they competed in the British University Rowing Championships in Nottingham.
On Saturday it was the turn of the big boats and Queen’s men were truly dominant. Two Queen’s crews competed in Championship and Intermediate eights. The intermediate eight won in both their heat and semi-final to progress to the final. The championship eight progressed to the final in a similar manner. The finals were run one after another, at the close of the days racing. The intermediate eight powered out of the blocks, with them and Oxford Brookes taking lengths out of the six-strong field. Queen’s battled hard, producing a one-length lead over Oxford by the finish, taking the gold medal in a time of 5:58.22. Celebrations were short lived, as the Championship eights final started immediately after. By now crowds of spectators were screaming support at the approaching crews. In a much tighter field, Queens had gained the advantage by the halfway point. In the closing thousand metre stretch, Queens found second wind, powering away from Oxford Brookes and Durham Universities. The Belfast crew crossed the line in Gold medal position, over 2 seconds ahead of second placed Oxford. The crew finished in a time of 5:44.52. An ecstatic scene then followed as both winning Belfast crews celebrated, elated by their performances. This was a landmark day for the Queens men, adding British University Champions to their mirrored success at the recent Irish University Championship. The women’s intermediate pair and men’s championship sculler (Williamson) both reached their respective finals. The women finished 5th as did Williamson, after facing tough opposition. On Sunday, it was the turn of small boats and the Queens ladies. The Queens ladies’ beginner four won the gold medal, beating off second placed Cardiff by a staggering 11 second margin, finishing in a time of 7:51.94. The men’s intermediate four picked up where they left on Saturday, taking gold in their final, beating Imperial College London by just 2 seconds in a time of 6:45.09. A light-weight pair of Damian Hannon and Jonathan Mitchell also made their final. The pair won silver, being beaten only by an International pairing of Imperial College, who represented Great Britain in the U23 World Championships. The margin of under 2 seconds emphasises the potential of this new pairing. An exciting first two days, left the majority of the Queen’s rowers to watch and support the remaining three entries, the women’s intermediate four, the women’s beginner eight and men’s championship quad. The women’s intermediate four continued Queens form, winning their heat, then narrowly finishing third in the semi. In their final the intermediate four stepped up their performance. In a fine row, the ladies pushed themselves into bronze medal position ahead of Durham, in a time of 7:54:41. Cambridge took a convincing gold, 6 seconds ahead of the Queen’s ladies. The ladies’ beginner eight rode confidently into the last day, with the success of Sunday’s fours gold still fresh in their mind. The eight breezed through their heat, not being challenged by the field. In their semi they posted the fastest time of both the semi-finals, an impressive 7:28:70. Had the ladies overdone it? The final could only tell. True to form the ladies dominated in the beginners final. They put down an epic row, winning the final by a clear 6 seconds over Cardiff, and marginally beating their semi-final time. The ladies finished in a time of 7:27:66 and took gold in their maiden BUCS championship. The experimental men’s quad had looked promising at Queens Regatta recently. Now it was time to see how good they actually were against seasoned competition. The quad narrowly won their heat over Newcastle, seeing them through to the final. In the closing event of the Championship, the quad sealed Queen’s men’s performance at BUCS with an inspiring row. The quad pulled away from Newcastle and Durham in the home stretch, gaining clear water on Newcastle and winning gold in a time of 6:12:93. This gave Queen’s a total haul of six golds, one silver and one bronze in the championship. An exciting squad of athletes has developed in the Queen’s camp, making the prospect reaching the finals of Henley, seem an increasingly realistic objective for the Queens men. The novice ladies continue their fine form, and to date have repeated the success of last year’s novice men. The next stop for Queen’s senior men is the International Wedau-Regatta, Duisburg, Germany on the 14-16 May. This will give Queen’s men a run against German Internationals, providing invaluable experience before Henley.