Photo finish denies Trent in Varsity boat race

Photo by Callum Baigrie
Photo by Callum Baigrie

Beautiful weather, booming music and tense races graced the River Trent for the first ever official Varsity boat race. The Oxbridge inspired races made for a wet and wild opening to the second Super Wednesday of Varsity, but Trent’s talented rowers could not quite make a splash as they fell to UoN on the big day.

Despite the early morning start, huge crowds amassed on the river’s embankments and the highly competitive rowing teams were raring to get out on the water after months of training.

The two rivals were stationed on each side of Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, with Trent taking over the Britannia Boathouse while UoN were anchored downstream at the University Boathouse.

Anchors were ready to be lifted as the clock neared 9:15, the atmosphere along the riverbank upbeat and exhilarating.

All hands on deck

To begin the day, the women’s reserve team were cast away up-stream towards Wilford Suspension Bridge, which marked the starting line for each race.

Rowing in harmonic unity, both teams were hull to hull as they passed under Trent Bridge and continued towards the finish which lay just before Lady Bay Bridge.

UoN pulled away and finished the one kilometre sprint in 03:23.40, with Trent sailing in close behind with a time of 03:28.56.

The music was turned up on Trent’s end and the crowd continued to increase in size as the reserve men’s team prepared for battle.

With what was another very close race, UoN managed a broadside shot on Trent at the very end, concluding with a time of 02:53.90.

NTU came in a few seconds later with an even closer time of 02:55.20 despite a constant skirmish downstream.

boat race-7
Photo by Callum Baigrie


Batten down the hatches!

Taking the helm for the next race was the Varsity women’s team at 10:15, the sun still shining and the crowds ever chanting.

UoN took the lead early on and despite rowing in brilliant form, Trent got caught up in the eye of the storm.

NTU did not manage to keep up with the pace of the Uni of rowers, coming in at 3:19.90 while UoN coasted to a comfortable victory in a time of 3:00:60.

A positive and jolly atmosphere kept Trent spirits alive, the men’s Varsity teams were up next.

From the very start NTU and UoN were side by side as the two boats left Wilford Suspension Bridge. As they powered towards Trent Bridge, NTU took the lead, initiating a deafening cry of support from the crowd outside the Brit Boathouse. Both boats cut through the water at speed as they cleared the finish line at what looked like the same time, making for a phenomenal final race.

Anxious rowers and supporters huddled around the finish post, awaiting the results after an astonishing photo finish.After waiting around for what seemed like an eternity to all involved and watching, the conclusion was drawn…

The pinks were in for heartbreak as Trent cleared the finish line with a supersonic time of 02:29.95, with UoN finishing just 25 milliseconds ahead, with a time of 02:29.70.

Heads were held high nonetheless, and the beers were cracked open to celebrate the incredible sportsmanship displayed by everyone involved.

A look through the spyglass

Trent’s president, Jack McGarva believes he could not have been prouder and looks forward to the future of NTUBC.

He said: “It was a great event to be a part of, with a great crowd along the bank supporting us.

“We are proud of the entire club despite the results and are excited about the future of the club after a very strong year of records left, right and centre.

Trent did not manage to send UoN to Davy Jones’ Locker, but the fierce competition and friendly atmosphere could not have been any better.


Joe Locker

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