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Thousands descend on Gloucester for the BUCS 4s and 8s Head of the River

Grace Ward-Allen from Bristol University sporting a RTHM top. Grace started rowing two years ago, and post first year has competed in the top senior boat. Some of her successes include winning gold at the European University Championships and making it to the semi-final at Women’s Henley.

Rowing in memory of René Zamudio. René (left) and his Bristol crew mates at BUCS Regatta 2016

28 February 2019

This weekend, rowing’s annual British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) 4s and 8s head will be hosted in the West Country for the first time. The UK’s best student rowers will be descending upon Gloucester’s new £1 million boat house renovation, for a chance to leave with some impressive silverware. Welcoming crews from 55 clubs, with 1966 student rowers and over 125 beginner entries; the co-hosts of the BUCS 4s & 8s Head are set to impress with what is tipped to be an exciting weekend.

Winning the bid to host the BUCS 4s and 8s Head back in May of 2018, Bristol have worked hard to establish a reliable venue for the university competition. Off the back of the University of Bristol’s impressive 2018 season;  the introduction of an additional full-time coach, Ed Bloomfield; and co-founders of a nation-wide mental health campaign in the sport (Rowing Together for Healthy Minds), the co-hosts are looking forward to further placing their mark within the British University rowing scene. With the help of hosts Gloucester Rowing club and Gloucester-Hartpury, the University of Bristol are set to continue the work of previous hosts, Newcastle University Tyne Rowing Club and Tyne Amateur Rowing Club, in welcoming and supporting the racing over the first major event of the year in the university rowing calendar.

Set to take place this weekend on the 2nd and 3rd March, the event will have Beginner divisions on the Saturday for students in their first year of rowing. As the first event of this scale that novice rowers will take part in, the Saturday promises exciting racing, as 700 beginners will take on the 3,000m course. The intermediate and championship level crews will race over the full 5,000m course on the Sunday, finishing just before the newly built Gloucester boathouse.  

Tommy Nicholson, Club Captain at the University of Bristol, on hosting the event this year said:

“We're pleased to be hosting a major event like BUCS 4s & 8s Head in the West. With most major races taking place in the South East or Nottingham, it's great to be representing the WAGS region along with Gloucester-Hartpury and Gloucester Rowing Club. The Gloucester canal course brings a new technical challenge to crews and one we hope will provide a good racing experience for all of our visiting crews”.

With the BUCS Rowing 4s and 8s Head being the second largest student only rowing event in the UK, this event is one that also hopes to raise awareness for a charity campaign that has recently taken the British rowing scene by storm. The University of Bristol’s very own Tommy Nicholson, along with club captain of Imperial College Boat club’s Jack Walsh, have established the campaign Rowing Together for Healthy Minds (RTHM) in memory of student rower, René Zamudio, who lost his life in January 2017. Through the support of the British rowing community, the pair have sold over 3,000 charity tech tops, raising an astounding £2,000 for the official-partner charity MIND in just less than one month. It is hoped that the affiliated clubs who will be descending on Gloucester rowing course this weekend will wear their tops in solidarity - showing support for members of their rowing community like René, who have lost their lives due to the struggles posed by mental health.

As BUCS head this year will be hosted in a new location, sporting a brand new boat-house and offering athletes with a different course, the event hopes to follow the example set by the previous Northern hosts with their successful event on the Tyne for the previous three years of the event. We look forward to welcoming the crews travelling from afar such as Queens Belfast, and the University of Edinburgh. This year Newcastle, instead of playing at home, will be trying to replicate their recent successes on away turf and the University of Bristol wish all competing clubs with the best of luck at the 2019 BUCS 4s and 8s Head.

Further information

Written by Charlotte Greenwood.

Studying Contemporary Identities (MSc)School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

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