It’s common knowledge that Rowing is one of the most physically demanding sports. Whilst your mind might immediately be drawn to those notorious early morning starts (and the incredibly tall people you spot in the middle of the dancefloor at the LCR), I spoke to some of the members of this year’s women’s squad to offer you more of an insight into the best parts of rowing.
UEABC, or UEA Boat Club, has approximately 60 members and trains around seven times a week (yes, seven!), whilst competing in a vast number of races throughout the year. The men’s and women’s squads represent UEA against local clubs as well as different universities in BUCS competitions. At the annual BUCS Head race in 2017, the men’s VIII placed 15th in the country: one of UEABC’s best achievements.
Perhaps the Rowing Club is most famous for its early starts; three times a week the rowers have to be on the River Yare at 6am for a water session practising technique, coordination, power, and race sets. Believe me when I say rowing is not for the faint hearted; I admire all those who stick with it despite the ever-increasing demands that a degree throws at you over the years.
One such rower is newly-elected Women’s Captain Katy Barker. Speaking of the goals for the women’s squad this year, Barker said: ‘[I] would like to give Rowing a different reputation, rather than being the sport with people who “are mad and wake up early”, to one that’s really an enjoyable and skilful sport that anyone can join’.
It’s true, the best thing about rowing for UEA is that you don’t have to have any prior experience before joining and you’re able to row on the water straight away; quite literally, everyone’s in the same boat (awful pun intended).
Whilst the amount of training may put new members off, it definitely means that you bond closer as a team. Reinforcing this statement, UEABC’s President Olivia Doubleday noted that the best part about rowing was the team spirit and the feeling of everyone ‘being in it together’.
Barker added that ‘it’s a lot of commitment but the benefits are fantastic and you make friends for life’. Being Captain has many rewards, and Barker enjoys ‘being able to take a boat from scratch and turn it into a powerful machine to win races’ – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
Whilst it may appear that the athletes do all the hard work, it would be impossible to row a boat without a cox. In charge of both the direction and the speed of the boat in outings, as well as ensuring the safety of the boat and crew, the cox is an integral part of rowing and racing.
Speaking to Eloise Prichard, the cox for the women’s squad for nearly three years, she said that coxing ‘made [me] push myself and allowed [me] to see a different side to Norwich and that’s something [I] enjoy. Because [I’ve] coxed the women’s squad for so long, each training session is now the equivalent of meeting up with [my] closest friends’.
Rowing’s not just about training sessions and early starts, though. UEABC organises some of the best themed socials of any club, requiring rowers and coxes to dress up in costumes including (but not limited to) emergency service uniforms and bin bags. UEABC’s annual Christmas Ball in December promises to be a formal evening, allowing members to ditch the lycra and wellies for elegant black-tie attire.
UEABC is a friendly and sociable club which welcomes anyone with any or no experience. If you would like to get involved (maybe give coxing a try?), then contact the Men’s or Women’s Captain at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. To learn more about the Rowing Club, see great pictures, and be up-to-date with UEABC’s antics, why not follow them on Instagram at @officialueabc.