University rowing (UK)

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University rowing in the United Kingdom began when it was introduced to Oxford in the late 18th century.[1][2] The first known university boat race took place at Oxford in 1815 between Brasenose and Jesus and the first race between Oxford and Cambridge was rowed on 10 June 1829.[3][4] Today, many universities have a boat club and at some collegiate universities—Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and London—each college has its own club as well as a main university club. In Scotland, the rowing clubs of Glasgow University and Edinburgh University initiated an annual race in 1877, making this competition the second oldest in the United Kingdom. Competitive university rowing in Northern Ireland began in the 1940s with the Wylie Cup; the Welsh Boat Race began in 2006.


Crews can get very close to each other when overtaking at BUCS Head

Most universities compete in the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championships with a number of events over the year. For non-indoor events, boats are separated into Championship (where "BUCS points" are available), Intermediate and Beginner (for students in their first year of the sport).

As of 16 June 2008, UCS (who represented the professional staff working in the sector) and BUSA (the lead body for competitive sport in the sector) have merged to form "BUCS" – British Universities & Colleges Sport. Events from 2008/09 onwards therefore come under the BUCS banner, rather than BUSA, e.g., BUCS Regatta.

BUCS Small Boats Head[edit]

The Small Boats Head is held in October. The event was introduced in 2004 and first held on the Trent in Nottingham. From 2008 the event has been held on the Witham in Boston, Lincolnshire where it now runs in conjunction with the GB Rowing Team 1st Senior/U23 Assessment.

BUCS Indoor Rowing Series (UIRS)[edit]

In 2010, BUCS Rowing and British Rowing managed an indoor rowing series at 11 Universities across the UK. Almost 900 students competed a 2000m test and a similar series is planned for 2011.

BUCS Head of the River[edit]

A 5 km head race which was held for many years on the River Trent in Nottingham during February or March. In 2009, the decision was made to move the event to the River Nene in Peterborough, and to split the competition into 2 separate days, with Beginners racing on one day, and Seniors racing on the other. However, due to inclement weather, the event was cancelled. The event was again held in Peterborough in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and was due to be held there in 2013. However, due to flooding, the event was moved to Boston that year.

The start of a race at BUCS Regatta

BUCS Regatta[edit]

A 2 km regatta held (usually at Holme Pierrepont) over the May Day weekend. Points for the Victor Ludorum are awarded for finishing places in the finals (more points for champ events and bigger boats).

The regatta was first run (as the BUSA regatta) in 1994,[5] replacing the UAU 'Regatta' that had been a two-hour slot for University races in the Nottingham City Regatta. The first Regatta attracted 105 crews; by 2000 this had grown to 354.[6] The 2001 Regatta was the first to be held over two days, and attracted over 500 crews.[7] In 2006 the Regatta grew to three days with almost 1000 crews taking part.[8]

In its early years the Regatta was dominated by Nottingham, but in 2004 it was won for the first time by Durham.[9][10] In 2005 Durham were 1st again, followed by Reading University in 2nd place and University of London behind them in 3rd place. Durham's dominance continued until 2014, when London took the trophy, with Durham 2nd and Imperial College 3rd.

2014 also saw the introduction of separate Victor Ludorum trophies for men's and women's teams in addition to the overall trophy: Durham took the women's prize and Imperial the men's.[11] 2015 saw Durham retain the women's title and Newcastle the men's, with Durham taking the overall title. Newcastle's men retained their trophy in 2016 and Newcastle University won the overall trophy for the first time. The University of London won the 2016 women's trophy on gold medal count, having finished equal on points with Exeter.[12]

In 2008 the BUSA regatta was held at Strathclyde Country Park, as NWSC was not available that weekend.[13] Two weeks earlier, a BUSA Sprint Regatta was held at Cotswold Water Park, though the regatta had to be held as a time trial because the weather had prevented the course and stakeboats being laid.


Year Victor Ludorum Top of Medal Table Number of Medals
2016 Newcastle University Boat Club Newcastle University Boat Club 19 (8 Gold, 2 Silver, 9 Bronze)
2015 Durham University Boat Club[15] Durham University Boat Club 19 (7 Gold, 8 Silver, 4 Bronze)
2014 University of London Boat Club[11] University of London Boat Club 19 (10 Gold, 6 Silver, 3 Bronze)
2013 Durham University Boat Club[16] Durham University Boat Club 22 (12 Gold, 6 Silver)
2012 Durham University Boat Club[17] Loughborough Students Rowing 10 (7 Gold, 3 Silver)
2011 Durham University Boat Club[18] Reading University Boat Club 16 (9 Gold)
2010 Durham University Boat Club[19] Imperial College Boat Club 7 Gold
2009 Durham University Boat Club[20] Durham University Boat Club 27 (13 Gold)
2008 Durham University Boat Club[13]
2007 Durham University Boat Club[21]
2006 Durham University Boat Club[21]
2005 Durham University Boat Club[22]
2004 Durham University Boat Club[23]
2003 Nottingham University Boat Club[24]
2002 Nottingham University Boat Club[25]
2001 Nottingham University Boat Club[26]
2000 Nottingham University Boat Club[26]
1999 Oxford Brookes University Boat Club[26]
1998  ?
1997 Nottingham University Boat Club[27]
1996 Nottingham University Boat Club[5]
1995 Nottingham University Boat Club[5]
1994 Nottingham University Boat Club[5]

Other competitions[edit]

A number of university boat clubs have organised annual races between themselves. These include:

There are separate bumps races held every year for the Cambridge colleges, Oxford colleges, and London medical schools (called the "United Hospitals Bumps"). Durham College Rowing organises two inter-collegiate regattas and a head race between the Durham Colleges.

University boat clubs[edit]


Northern Ireland[edit]




  1. ^ Sherwood, W. E. (1900). Oxford Rowing – A History of Boat-Racing at Oxford from the Earliest Times, with a Record of the Races. Oxford: Henry Frowde. p. 1. AEZ-7509. Retrieved 2014-08-27. Of the precise date when boating became a common amusement in the University we have no record, but we find T. F. Dibden, who came up in 1793, and took his degree in 1801... 
  2. ^ X (1900). The Speaker, the Liberal Review. 2 – April to September 30, 1900. London: Cassell. p. 23. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ...a history of Oxford rowing from its earliest days, even before the actual racing began—his first extracts relate to the year 1793... 
  3. ^ Treherne G.T., Geo; Goldie, J.H.D. (1884). Record of the University Boat Race, 1829–1883. London: Bickers & Son. p. 6. ark:/13960/t5j96kx8h. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  4. ^ Peacock, Wadham (1900). The Story of the Inter-University Boat Race. London: Grant Richards. p. 2. Retrieved 27 August 2014. Everyone knows that the first race took place at Henley in 1829, but no one has yet been to decide how it was that the idea of a between the two Universities arose. 
  5. ^ a b c d Nigel Mayglothing. "BUSA 1996". Archived from the original on 28 January 1999. 
  6. ^ Nigel Mayglothling. "BUSA Rowing Regatta 2001". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Nigel Mayglothling. "Holme Pierrepont, 28th-29th April 2001". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "BUSA Regatta Success". Newcastle University Boat Club. 2 May 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Students add Rowing to Rugby and Cricket titles". Durham University. 4 May 2004. Retrieved 10 October 2015. the winning handful of points needed to unseat Nottingham University, the champions for the past seven years 
  10. ^ "The History of Durham University Boat Club". Durham University Boat Club. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 2004 … DUBC won the BUSA Regatta winning the Eric Halladay Memorial trophy, the first time that Nottingham had ever lost the title. 
  11. ^ a b "Students shine at 2014 BUCS Regatta". British Rowing. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "BUCS Regatta 2016: Day three round up 02/05/2016". BUCS. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "BUSA Regatta 2008 - Glasgow delivers and Durham dominates". BUCS. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Archived Results". BUCS. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Tough Competition at BUCS Regatta". British Rowing. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  16. ^ "Women rowers take centre stage at BUCS Regatta". British Rowing. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  17. ^ "Loughborough top the medal table at BUCS PwC Rowing Regatta but Durham retain the Victor Ludorum". BUCS. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  18. ^ "BUCS Pwc Regatta 2011 - Durham retain Victor Ludorum". BUCS. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  19. ^ "Durham takes top spot at the BUCS PricewaterhouseCoopers Regatta". BUCS. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "Results from BUCS Regatta 2009". BUCS. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "Sporting Achievements". Durham University. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "Durham defend British University Rowing Championship in style". Durham University. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 17 October 2005. 
  23. ^ James Bryant (24 May 2004). "Durham snatch title". British Universities Sports Association. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004. 
  24. ^ "Tiger News 2002/3". Nottingham University Boat Club. Archived from the original on 31 August 2004. 
  25. ^ "BUSA Regatta 2002: Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  26. ^ a b c "The 2001 British Universities Rowing Regatta". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 February 2002. 
  27. ^ "BUSF 1997". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 

External links[edit]