Programme

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The Boat Race season starts in early September before the University term starts with the squad at maximum size. The light evenings make it possible to row in the evening and make the most of the few weeks before the athletes’ academic commitments start in earnest.

Ergo tests at the beginning of term, reduce the squad down to around 40 athletes.

During term-time, training sessions are scheduled so that they fit around the academic timetables of the squad.

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Weight training is led by our specialist strength and conditioning coaches. The weights training focuses on producing robust as well as powerful athletes.

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Although the primary focus of the programme is sweep rowing, attendance at GB Rowing Trials is encouraged and support is provided for athletes who need to continue to train in single sculls to attend trials.

Those attending trials are included in the crews that compete at the British Rowing Championships in mid-October. In 2014, the Club will also be sending a crew to race at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Massachussetts.

The Fuller’s Fours Head of the River Race is the first focus race for the whole squad. In 2013, the Club fielded seven crews (six coxed fours and one coxless four).

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Trial VIIIs is the culmination of the first half of the Boat Race season where two matched crews race each other along the full Tideway Boat Race course of 4 miles 374 yards. In 2013, “Nudge Nudge” beat “Wink Wink”.

After the Christmas break, the squad departs for training camp in early January. This provides time away from academic commitments before term restarts, allowing a solid block of training for extensive on-water testing and selection. In 2014, both the men’s and women’s squads trained on Lake Banyoles in Spain, venue of the 1992 Olympic Regatta.

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By February, the squad is reduced to three provisional crews and a number of spares who train through to the Boat Races. The crews take part in various fixture weekends away as well as racing at the BUCS Head against other British University crews, which the A crew won in 2013.

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The squad makes extensive use of Rowperfect 3 dynamic ergometers, particularly once the final Boat Race crews are set. The use of linked-ergometers is beneficial in reinforcing on-water crew rhythm and technique, while training on land.


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The Blue Boat crew is announced at the official Boat Race weigh in early March in London. The Blondie (openweight reserves) and Lightweight crews are announced internally at a similar time and then formally introduced at the Henley Boat Races challenge at the start of race week.

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The Henley Boat Races take place a week before the Tideway race, and see the Blondie and Lightweight crews racing a 2000m course along the famous Henley Reach, against their Oxford counterparts.

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From 2015, the Women’s Boat Race takes place in London on the same day as the men’s race. The crews race the full 4 miles 374 yards from Putney to Mortlake. The event is televised by the BBC, with estimated viewing figures of around 9 million in the UK and over 100 million Worldwide, together with the 300,000 people who watch from the bank of the River Thames.

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After the Boat Races, the athletes have a short break before training recommences for the BUCS regatta in early May.

Although imminent exams usually mean that some squad members reduce their training to concentrate on their work, those who wish to continue to train with the Club to compete at Henley Women’s Regatta and attend qualifiers for Henley Royal Regatta are encouraged to do so.

Those athletes who wish to row for their college in the May Bumps are also supported.