University College Boat Club (Oxford)

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University College Boat Club
University College Oxford Boat Club Boathouse.JPG
The blade colours of University College.
LocationUniversity College Boathouse
Home waterRiver Thames (known in Oxford as the Isis)
Key people
  • Lara Drew (President)
  • George Russell (Men's Captain)
  • Emma Lepinay (Women's Captain)
  • Nina Handzewniak (Captain of Coxes)
Head of the RiverMen: 1914, 1990, 1991
UniversityUniversity of Oxford
AffiliationsBritish Rowing (boat code UCO)
Trinity Hall BC (Sister college)

University College Boat Club (commonly abbreviated to UCBC) is the rowing club for all members of University College, Oxford ("Univ"). UCBC has had a recent run of successes, notably in the Women's divisions with the Women's 1st VIII winning Blades in Summer Eights 2015 to leave them fourth on the river, and the 2nd VIII winning Blades in Summer Eights 2014 and again in Summer Eights 2018. The men's side is also highly successful and is currently eighth on the river in Summer Eights, with three crews in fixed divisions.[1]


The idea of inter collegiate racing was pioneered by Brasenose College Boat Club and Jesus College Boat Club in 1815. In 1827, it was decided to form a University College eight. The origins of UCBC can be attributed to one student, William Roper, who supervised the raising of £100 to build a boat and select a crew. Whilst the crew did not compete in 1829 or 1832-8 it has done so almost continuously until the present day, first going Head of the River in 1841. By the mid-1850s the Boat Club was enjoying a centrality to college life that it has not lost. The mid nineteenth century was a period of great success for UCBC being Head of the River in 1869–71, 1874–5 and 1877–8.[2] One undergraduate Charles Cree recorded the celebrations in 1871:

"Univ. Head in the Eights. Univ, though Balliol came near them were never in danger...The Eight supped with Snell and the rest of us joined them after supper, and had a glorious evening. Singing and shouting as well as our voices would let us — Everything went off well no one being drunk."[2]

Univ won the headship in 1914, the college now being in possession of an original commemorative blade from that time. Sadly, many of that crew did not live to see the end of the Great War. Stephen Hawking was a member of the club in the 1960s, coxing the Men's Second VIII. The club features on the front cover of his autobiography, My Brief History.

Univ was last Eights Head of the River from 1990 to 1991.

Recent Results[edit]

Men's 1st VIII Summer Eights 2007 coxed by Acer Nethercott

In Summer Eights, the Men's 1st VIII has climbed steadily over the past decade from the middle of Division II. As of 2018, the 1st Eight is eighth on the river. The Women's 1st Eight meanwhile, achieved Blades in 2010, 2011 and 2015 and are now fifth in Division 1. The club is also highly successful lower-down the divisions, qualifying more boats for Eights 2012 and 2014 than any other college.[1]

The club's recent record in Torpids is less successful, with the Men's 1st Torpid currently towards the bottom of Division II. The Women's 1st Torpid has been stronger recently, achieving Blades in 2010 and 2011, and moving up four places in 2015. As of 2018 they are eighth on the river in Division 1.

Novice training is also strong, with large numbers of boats entered every year for Nepthys Regatta and Christ Church Regatta.[1] Indeed, the former was won in 2012 by the Men's Novice A crew.

Additionally, UCBC has been successful in external regattas and races, for example, in 2014 Univ Women won Novice Eights at Bedford Regatta, 56th place in Women's Head of the River and 4th place in the Intermediate Academic Coxed Fours at Henley Women's Regatta.

The Boathouse[edit]

UCBC's boathouse has become an iconic and instantly recognisable architectural statement in and around Oxford and is shared with the boat clubs of Somerville College, St Peter's College and Wolfson College. The original 19th century boathouse, designed by John Oldrid Scott, succumbed to arson in 1999. After eight years, a new boathouse was finished, designed by Belsize Architects. The Boathouse has been awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) prize.[3] The £2.7million structure has enjoyed a very favourable reception in the architectural world. Yuli Toh's article describes the structure as not just a boathouse, but "a grandstand of the first order" arguing that it represents a new age in rowing.[4] The Boathouse was also subject of a recent article in the Row360 rowing magazine[5]

Saturday of Eights’ Week 2007 saw the opening of the new boathouse by Colin Moynihan (1974) who coxed the College and the University, won a silver medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, gained a boxing Blue, later became Minister of Sport, and is now Chairman of the British Olympic Association. The ceremony also marked the dedication of the Coleman Viewing Terrace by Jimmy Coleman (1963) and Jamie Coleman (1994); it is named for their generous gift.


UCBC benefits from having one of the most modern fleets on the Isis.[citation needed]

The men's side of the boat club uses the following shells:

Class Make Name Notes
8+ Empacher (2006) Lord and Lady Butler Named after then Master of the College, and his wife.
8+ Empacher (2008) Norman Dix Named after former Boatman. Name had previously been used for a wooden boat.
8+ Janousek (2000) Michael Collins Named after UCBC Senior Member & Mathematics Fellow.
8+ Janousek (2000) Phoenix ...from the flames (purchased after boathouse fire).
4+ Janousek (2002) George Cawkwell II Named after Emeritus Fellow.
2-/2x (85 kg) Janousek (2002) The Two Bills Named after then Head Porter and Chaplain.
1x (85 kg) Janousek (2002) Bob
1x (70 kg) Radley Norman
1x (80 kg) Radley Edward

The women's side of the Boat Club uses the following shells:

Class Make Name Notes
8+ Empacher (2008) Minnie Coleman Named after wife of Old Member and benefactor, Jimmy Coleman.
8+ Janousek (2007) Margaret Chamberlain Named after the first Captain of UCWBC
8+ Janousek Marion Screaton II
8+ Janousek Claire Sherriff II Named after Claire Sherriff, benefactor and supporter of UCBC.
4+ Janousek (2002) Marjorie Collins Named after wife of UCBC Senior Member & Mathematics Fellow.
4+ Janousek (2014) Acer Named after UCBC alumnus Acer Nethercott
1x Janousek (2002) David Named after David Sherriff, benefactor and supporter of UCBC.

The boathouse gym is equipped with 8 Model D Concept2 indoor rowers, stretching/exercise mats and balls, and a full weights suite, along with changing rooms for crews.

Notable alumni of UCBC[edit]

Social events[edit]

UCBC organises several social events per term, ranging from crew dates and pub crawls through to formal dinners, held to celebrate both Torpids and Eights.

Dinosaurs and Cassandrians[edit]

Univ members who have rowed or coxed at least two days of Summer Eights as part of the Men's 1st VIII are entitled to become a member of the Dinosaurs society. Members who have rowed or coxed at least two days of Summer Eights as part of the Women's 1st VIII are entitled to become a member of the Cassandrians society. An annual Dinosaurs and Cassandrians dinner is held (usually in January) where many Old Members return to the college to celebrate Univ rowing with current members. A related club is the Univ Dinosaurs and Cassandrians Ironman Triathlon Club (UDCITC).


Henley Royal Regatta[edit]

Year Races won
1862 Ladies' Challenge Plate
1863 Grand Challenge Cup, Stewards' Challenge Cup, Ladies' Challenge Plate
1864 Visitors' Challenge Cup
1866 Stewards' Challenge Cup, Visitors' Challenge Cup
1867 Stewards' Challenge Cup, Visitors' Challenge Cup
1868 Visitors' Challenge Cup
1869 Visitors' Challenge Cup
1875 Visitors' Challenge Cup
1876 Visitors' Challenge Cup
1900 Diamond Challenge Sculls
1901 Ladies' Challenge Plate
1902 Ladies' Challenge Plate
1903 Visitors' Challenge Cup


  1. ^ a b c [1], OURCS.
  2. ^ a b Darwall-Smith, Robin (2008). A History of University College Oxford. Oxford University Press. pp. 346–7, 378–380. ISBN 978-0-19-928429-0.
  3. ^ Oxford Mail "New college boathouse scoops design award"
  4. ^ Toh Shimazaki Architecture News Archive
  5. ^ Row360 Article, Row360 Article

External links[edit]