On the last weekend of July, St Neots Rowing Club held its annual two-day regatta on the River Great Ouse, playing host to rowers from across the UK, as well as crews from Spain and Germany. This of course was not an event to be missed by Wolfson College Boat Club. Two coxed IV+ crews and a men’s single scull were entered, having had two weeks of intensive training in the summer sun.
Racing on Saturday was over a 1,000 metre course. The women’s IV+ were first met with disappointment to see their opponents scrap at the last minute, causing them to miss out on their first race. This was quickly forgotten over the course of the day with the good weather and added spectacle of a Dakota flyover in the afternoon. The long, anticipated final gave the women a chance to finally show off their Wolfson colours, rowing to victory with five boat lengths lead on the opposing crew. Hard-fought trophies were presented by St Neots Mayor, Andrew Hansard.
The men’s IV+ faced tough competition for their first draw against Boston’s Builders RC, but managed to push them away in the last 250 metres to win with a bowball lead on the larger crew to get into the semi-finals. As luck would have it, another bowball to bowball race followed and the men narrowly missed out on the finals by less than a bowball in their second race.
On Sunday, the shorter 500 metre race gave spectators the chance to watch the entire course. The men’s IV+ soared into victory in their first race winning by two boat lengths to secure their place in the semi-final. Windy weather conditions and last minute equipment malfunction saw the crew lose their ruder at the start of their second race. Despite having to use manual steering to avoid blade clash with the other crew, Wolfson kept it together and finished with a ¾ boat length gain, ahead of the home team. The final saw a major challenge for the men, who had to resort to using the Faith Johnson (women’s IV+) to avoid the repeat catastrophe of a lost rudder. Unfortunately, this disadvantage was enough to give their opponents the extra edge and the men missed out on pots by just one boat length.
Despite having only had six weeks of sculling experience, Rhys Coleman decided to put his hard work to the test at St Neots Regatta. Easy victories in both races cemented Rhys’ place in the final. Bowball to bowball racing was seen in the first 300 metres of a very close final, but an unlucky clip of a nearby barge deprived Rhys of what could have been a very close victory.
The regatta is one of the biggest in the country, second only to Henley in size. Participating in such a popular rowing event provides crews with invaluable race experience. This was an exciting weekend for Wolfson College Boat Club and remains one of our favourite summer events in the rowing calendar.