University of Warwick Boat Club

The University of Warwick Boat Club (UWBC) was founded in 1967, the University itself founded in 1965. In 1966, there were several undergraduates who had previous school rowing experience, who began boating from Stratford Rowing Club- a stone’s throw away. Their first race was in a pair, borrowed from Stratford R.C! 

During the academic year 1967-68, John Fawthrop and Godfrey Bishop, the Clubs Treasurer and Captain respectively, started the process of registering the Club with ARA (now British Rowing), as well as designing the first kit; with the notable red, white and black colours. The search started for a location to build the boathouse and a stretch of river to row on… 

Godfrey began looking at the local Ordance Survey map to examine a suitable stretch of the River Avon. He was able to borrow a canoe and paddled down the river Avon, from Warwick Castle, to the little village of Barford. After leaving Warwick Castle behind he stumbled across a gold mine- the river opened up to reveal a stretch wide enough for side by side racing. The club now rows out of their boathouse on this lovely stretch of the River Avon, about 15 minutes drive from the University. Catering for all levels of experience, from complete novice up to experienced oarsmen, currently clocking in with over 120 members, it is a fantastic club to be a part of. 

In the mid-1970s the club was combined with Coventry University, then Lancaster Polytechnic, and registered and raced as Warwick University/Lancaster Polytechnic Rowing Club (UW/LPRC). When WU/LPRC was established, the Student’s Union provided the club with a very small grant of £100 per year. At the time, owing to the facts that both institutions had far fewer students than today and that rowing was a less prevalent sport, the club was significantly smaller than it is today. 

Over the years the boathouse has changed dramatically: in its early development, access to the boathouse was a limiting factor to training.

Howard Price (member from 1973-1976): “Although we could park conveniently on the verge approaching the bridge (no M40 then!), we couldn’t book one of the few SU Transit vans to get us there. Consequently, we rarely managed to put out the eight and, in winter months especially, we usually only boated a four man with a man or so over, catered-for by the pair or, completing the compliment of 5 boats (all wood of course), the two Eton singles.”

Rowers received occasional coaching from Mike McCarthy, then a Fine Art lecturer. The club raced at Worcester, Evesham, Stratford and Peterborough. We were successful at the Northern Universities’ Regatta in Durham in 1974 and on the Thames at Molesey in 1975 followed by a crack at the Visitors’ Cup.

Previous members include;  Ben Ellison, the 2011 Boat Race winner (who started at Warwick as a novice), Tom Solesbury, Olympian, Bronze World Champion and Boat Race Winner, and Oliver James MBE, Paralympic gold medallist. 

The club’s alumni maintain strong links with the graduate Boat Club, Ursus B.C. Ursus was set up in 2002 by alumni Ken Loveday and Mark Williams, to allow old friends to keep in touch and for the alumni to support new equipment for UWBC. Members of UWBC and Ursus compete and socialise regularly, including the annual ball and regatta in Spring term. 

University of Warwick Boat Club Alumni Section

During 2002 & 2003 Ken Loveday (Kendo) and Mark Williams worked with the University and UWBC executive committee to set up an alumni boat club. In February 2004 the Warwick Graduate Association Boat Club (WGBC) was formally established and registered with British Rowing (formally the Amateur Rowing Association). 

The UWBC is often looking for new sources of finance to help aid the purchase of equipment and facilities. The primary function of the WGBC is to provide funding to the UWBC but equally importantly it provides a chance for you to carry on rowing after you leave Warwick and maintain contact with your fellow graduates. The WGBC alumni boats are often seen racing along side the UWBC at various heads and regattas promoting the more ‘social’ side of the sport. Not forgetting, of course, the legendary “Barford International Invitation Regatta” the day of the Rowing club ball.

+ WGBC OBJECTIVES

  • To participate in the Head of the River Race (HORR) on the Thames in London annually.
  • To participate in at least one or two additional regattas each year.
  • To organise official social events in London at least twice yearly.
  • To assist in the search for corporate sponsorship for UWBC.
  • To use knowledge and experience to offer advice and coaching to the current UWBC squads. To aid “knowledge transfer” whereby the experience of a boat club executive committee member is not simply lost when they leave the university as graduates.
  • To mobilise support for UWBC at the races which they compete in throughout the year.
  • To assist in the development and organisation of the annual rowing ball.

+ BENEFITS FOR THE ALUMNI

  • Opportunity for staying in touch with fellow alumni from members’ own years at Warwick.
  • Chance to meet alumni rowers from other years at Warwick.
  • Opportunity for building social/business networks.
  • Chance to continue to compete in the sport.

+ BENEFITS FOR THE CURRENT UWBC MEMBERS

  • Coaching: As a number of alumni rowers have progressed to great heights in both coaching and practising the sport, the alumni club would be in an ideal position to offer coaching to the current squads
  • “Knowledge Transfer”: The current concern should be that when the executive committee members graduate and leave the University, knowledge and experience are lost. The club is often left to repeat mistakes that have been made in the past! This is detrimental to the development of rowing at Warwick and simply cannot be allowed to continue
  • Financial: The current list of alumni rowers’ employers spans nearly every well-known graduate recruiter imaginable. From Banking to Accountancy to Engineering to IT to Management Consultancy, nearly every sector of business is represented
  • Recruitment: Current student rowers will have an instant database of contacts, which they will be able to use in researching their chosen career paths and graduate recruiters.

NOVICE

The UWBC novice programme provides the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to take up competitive rowing at university. With strong training schedules and regular social events throughout all three terms, UWBC is the ideal club for anyone looking to keep fit, try something new, and make friends for life. 

At Warwick, novices are a crucial part of our club’s success and as such, we have a thriving contingent of new rowers every year. Whether you’re a former top athlete in another discipline or you’ve never been the sporty type before, Warwick Rowing is interested in you. Our beginner programme is designed to take completely novice rowers from their first rowing stroke right up to becoming competent oarsmen and women. Along the way, you will develop your athletic ability, mental strength, and teamwork skills which will serve you well for the rest of your life. Alongside rowing on the water and rowing machine, we develop your knowledge and skills in cross disciplines such as weightlifting and nutrition. Training plans are provided by a team of dedicated coaches who will monitor your progress so that you can perform to the best of your ability. Our programme continually produces successful athletes year on year, many of whom graduate to our senior squads in the future.


Recruitment 

TERM 1

The first term is spent learning the basics of rowing technique and terminology as well as fundamentals of athleticism and weightlifting technique. Due to the nature of the sport and the club, there is a selection process for both Men and Women towards the start of term, but don’t worry, it is our aim to give you all the skills required to perform to your very best! This selection process picks out the best potential from each squad to take forward through development. During the first week of the Christmas Holidays, those who pass the selection process go on a development training camp in the UK. This is a crucial trip for our beginners as it gives significant time on the water improving skills.

TERM 2

In term two we move on to developing your physiology and mental toughness with weights, the rowing machine, and cross training. You’ll learn how to approach a training session in the most productive way. This term sees your first chance at external racing with several time-trial head races. These include the Men’s and Women’s Head of the River Race in London over the Boat Race course, normally attended by up to 400 crews, and the BUCS Head, held all over the UK, and attended by every university boat club. On top of this, we attend several smaller races around the country to gain experience in racing.

TERM 3

The summer term sees the beginning of shorter regatta races, generally held over 1-2km. The training moves towards learning the ins and outs of a regatta, as well as preparing skills you’ll need for the transition into the senior squad at the end of the year. At the end of the Easter Holidays, we go for a second one-week training camp to the Netherlands to prepare for the second BUCS event of the year. Racing moves to regattas, side by side races on lakes or rivers and these continue throughout the term. Unlike many other sports at Warwick that stop at this point, we’re just getting started and this is really what all the hard graft over the year is about. This is a mixture of multi-lane regattas such as BUCS (the kind of racing you see at the Olympics) and one-on-one knockout competitions. For the beginner first boats, this often culminates at Henley Royal Regatta or Henley Women’s Regatta qualifiers to see where you sit against some of the country’s best crews.