The women’s squad arrived in Wuhan, China on the 15th of July for the first leg of rowing and culture. Barely able to contain our excitement for the following fortnight of fun we were met at the hotel by a sea of photographers and friendly faced organizers who helped us settle in to our stunning hotel for the week.
There was no hanging around, and we were keen to get straight on the water the next morning. We were going to be rowing on the East Lake, which for your information is the largest lake within a City of China. We were presented with our brand new boats and spent the morning unwrapping and rigging them. Unexpectedly we had time out to sign autographs for an excited group of school children along with the many interested locals even the event security wanted a picture! After meeting the other teams, taking more pictures we eventually got a bit of rowing in there as well.
Racing started the next morning and would happen over two days. We were up against a few great universities from back home, along with some of Chinas own. It was just a 1km stretch which we were happy to hear as the weather was sweltering. There was a friendly, yet competitive atmosphere among the teams. It was an amazing experience, and we came out of it with 4th place which we were happy with considering the calibre of the opposition.
A busy few days were then planned, packed with lots of cultural exchange, and tourism visits. We quickly became known as the crew that were always laughing, and taking too many pictures. We were able to visit temples, waterparks, a boat ride along the river and visited some of the local Chinese Universities. Wuhan is a beautiful place, and we are so grateful to our guides and the locals for being so friendly towards us.
Changsha was the next stop of the competition. It was a very similar setup to Wuhan, except the river was a lot rougher than the peaceful lake and had a concerning fast current, making the Tideway seem like a gentle stream. There was talk of maybe not even being able to get out on the water. The competition did however get underway and although again we just reached the semi-final we felt it was the best race we had so far in terms of achieving our race plan. This time we were competing against some of the best university crews in the world from Italy, New Zealand alongside the UK teams. Our races here became so memorable, as for half of our girls, it was the last time they were to race as part of Warwick University. So although we may not have come out on top, we still celebrated in winning style for the rest of the day, at the closing ceremony and into the night. We were surrounded by the great company of the Regatta organizers and fellow Universities including Harvard, Princeton, Trieste, Durham and Sydney to name a few.
Throughout the whole trip, we were surprised and humbled by so many things. From being given brand new boats from the rowing association, to receiving so much interest from the local press and public. We were flattered to be able to represent not only our rowing club, but our University as a whole to the people of China. We were more than happy to answer all the questions about life in England and at Warwick University from prospective and interested students.
We would like to say a huge thank you to the Chinese Rowing association for inviting us, all of our guides for being so friendly and helpful and the other University teams for giving us such a good time! We hope to see you again next year China!