News, photos and events from NUBC and Blue Star Club

BUCS Small Boats Head and GB trials

October 27th by admin

Newcastle’s rowers started their year in style with a strong performance at the first set of GB trials and BUCS Small Boats Head (21-22 October). NUBC placed 2nd overall, with 36 points ahead of Loughborough and the University of East London and behind Durham, in the process winning more medals than any other club. The weekend began on the Saturday with a 2000m ergo test for the trialists. Sam Arnott and George Rossiter were placed first and second in the U23 category, with times of 6:00.4 and 6:00.9 respectively, and Gemma Hall pulled out a strong performance with a time 7:29.4, placing fourth in the lightweight women category.

On Sunday, NUBC took to the water for the combined BUCS/GB 5km time trial in singles followed by two divisions of small boat racing. NUBC dominated the pairs events, winning gold and silver in the men’s event, and winning silver and bronze in the women’s event. In the men’s double event, Tom Ford and James Reeder came fifth in a very strong field. Gemma Hall won silver in the lightweight women’s single category before teaming up with Ami Hodges to win silver in the lightweight women’s double, ahead of NUBC alumnus Lucy Glendinning, who won bronze for Durham University.

Newcastle beat close rivals and neighbours, Durham University in all the crew events except for the men’s double, which is a strong statement of intent for the upcoming season and hopefully our performance won’t scare Durham from racing us at the Boat Race this year.

Focus now switches towards preparations for the Fours Head of the River on 5 November, where the club has entered a men’s coxed four and women’s quad. After that, NUBC will be racing at Rutherford Head of the River on 3 December before entering the North East Indoor Rowing Championships on 7 December.

Results and crews:

BUCS Small Boats Head


Sam Arnott/George Rossiter – Gold

Ed Ford/Tim Clarke – Silver


Nicole Lamb/Georgia Parry – Silver
Charlotte Irving/Franziska Horbach – Bronze


Gemma Hall/Ami Hodges – Silver


Gemma Hall – Silver

For full results, visit the BUCS website..

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Beginners wanted!

August 26th by admin

NUBC relies on developing new talent to support its highly successful senior squads. We are the only high-performance club at Newcastle University to recruit beginners, and this year is no exception. We are looking to recruit two squads of rowers (men and women) to build on the successes of last season. University rowing is one of the highest levels of the sport, and Newcastle University Boat Club is one of the top performing clubs in the country. Interested? Read on.


Unlike any other sport, rowing requires complete team work. It’s not the kind of teamwork you find in sports like football, hockey, netball or rugby. In those sports the opportunity presents itself for one player to try and carry the team. In rowing it requires the strength, concentration, determination, and spirit of the entire boat to get it moving fast. Nothing else will do. No one rower carries the boat; each contributes to that one fluid, special motion that is rowing. What is so great about rowing is that because it is so unique in that sense of ‘team’, it creates a bond unlike any other between team-mates, a bond that transcends that idea and establishes life-long friendships.

Rowing is considered one of the ultimate strength-endurance sports. Our land training programme is carefully prepared each season to meet the demands of the sport and athletes, and we promise to get you fitter than you’ve ever been in your life. On the water we’ll teach you the skills to transfer your physical strength and stamina in to smooth and efficient rowing. Talk to any current member and they’ll describe in graphic detail the wonderful sensation that comes from eight rowers all working in perfect, controlled, powerful unison.

Last season our beginner squads enjoyed plenty of success, with our men winning a silver medal at the British University Rowing Championships, whilst our women won three medals at the British Championships (one silver and two bronze), a historic win at the Women’s Eights Head of the River, success at Reading Amateur Regatta and reaching the final of Henley Women’s Regatta. During the season, four of our beginners (three girls and one boy) were identified as potential future Olympians by the Great Britain Rowing team and have spent part of this summer on training camps, ready for trials this season. All of this happening within a few months of learning to row at Newcastle. Could this be you?

We think rowing at Newcastle University is very much a lifestyle choice, we are the University’s most successful sports club for a reason: our approach to training. We work hard and we play hard, and this is reflected in our success at all levels and our enviable social life. You won’t be a typical student, you’ll be an exceptional student combining your academic demands with a sport well-respected by future employers.

We’ll have a presence at the Sports and Societies Fair (26-27th September) at the Claremont Sports Centre, where members of the club will be on hand to talk to you about rowing at Newcastle. If you want too know more now, or are unable to make the fair but keen to give the sport a go then please get in touch with our respective squad coaches:



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Rowing at Newcastle University

August 18th by admin

Thinking of rowing at Newcastle?

You are? Excellent. Read on.

Whether you’ve rowed before or not, we’d love to hear from you.

Our very successful programme had produced numerous outstanding performances since our Head Coach, Angelo Savarino joined the club in 2006. Angelo has presided over historic first wins at Henley Royal and Henley Women’s Regattas, numerous championship victories at BUCS Regatta, pennant wins at the Head of the River Race and Women’s Head of the River Race, medals at the European University Rowing Championships and plenty of successes at the British Rowing Championships. The club has a growing list of current students and alumni that have represented their country, including two Olympians (Ed Coode, Gold, Athens 2004 and Al Heathcote, Silver, Beijing, 2008). With excellent support from the University’s sports centre, club members have access to the clubs own private erg/weights facility and support from strength and conditioning staff, physiotherapy treatment and nutritional advice. Exceptional athletes can also apply for bursaries from various funds to assist them with the costs of rowing.

Water training takes place from our newly enlarged and refurbished boathouse in the village of Newburn, a few miles upstream of the famous Newcastle Quayside. Here we have access to over 25km of tidal water on which to row, from the picturesque Wylam stretch right down to Tynemouth passing through the industrial heart of the city and iconic bridges. Our new boat shed means we have plenty of space for members to rack their own singles free of charge.

The club is one of the largest mixed-sex clubs in the University, and despite a professional approach to rowing it also has a social life which is the envy of most clubs. Through a regular series of events, social evenings and activities we make sure you maintain the right balance between work, rowing and socialising.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with our respective captains for the season:


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Blues & Royals

July 13th by admin

So it has come to the end of another year.  Another cycle of the rowing calendar has spun before us, throwing up the familiar scenes of drama, controversy, glory and passion.  Charged with chronicling these events, I find myself stretched to the limit of my literary capacity to encapsulate all that has occurred in the last few months.  But, as ever, I shall endeavour to try one last time before handing over the verbal baton to my successor.

Firstly and most importantly, a message of congratulations to our coach, Angelo Savarino, and his wife Denise who gave birth to a healthy baby boy last week.  Giuseppe Savarino was born in the early hours of the 4th July a healthy and beautiful boy.  As the mentor of our club we all join in wishing the Savarinos well and are proud of the newest addition to the family.  We hope that one day he will join our sporting community and show us all how to row properly!

Giuseppe’s birth came at the end of an extremely auspicious week for NUBC at the Henley Royal Regatta, an event that has captured the imagination of the rowing world since time immemorial.  The race takes place on a hallowed stretch of the Thames that has given birth to champion after champion.  Out of respect for the history and culture of this place, only the toughest, most skilled and competitive crews enter and do battle in a one on one format.  Newcastle had entered four crews, hoping each one of them would be able to represent the club in three different events.  There were two eights in the Temple Challenge Cup – a competition for academic eights.   A coxed four in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup – for academic coxed fours and a composite coxless four entered in the Visitors Challenge – for intermediate fours.  Each of these crews would need to overcome certain hurdles before lining up on the start line.  The ‘B’ eight had to go through the qualifiers on the Friday before the event, the ‘A’ eight had to prequalify through the Metropolitan and Marlowe regatta’s in the preceeding week, the coxless four had to find a fourth oarsmen and the coxed four had to persuade the giant Sam Arnot to use his legs.  No small feat we can assure you.

The ‘A’ eight put in an impressive performance in both qualifying regattas and, combined with the good results over the year and the club’s strong reputation, were pre qualified.  The ‘B’ eight, despite a similarly strong result at Marlow regatta, had to go through the qualifying regatta on the Friday before.  Not to be deterred and whilst the rest of the squad returned to the north, the second 8 spent the week on the Henley course perfecting their unique style of rowing and preparing themselves for the fight of qualification.

46 crews turned up to race over the 2,112 metres.  The fastest 14 on the day would qualify with the rest sent back home empty handed.  The strength of the B crew lay in their ability to understand their weaknesses.  Knowing they lacked physicality and size – with over half the crew being of lightweight status – they tuned their own style into one best described as ‘agricultural’.  Short, aggressive and uncompromising the eight stormed down the course laying waste to the crews either side of them.  They kept up the tempo, causing onlookers to comment on their racing style and finished the race strongly, leaving nothing to regret.  Traditionally, crews would gather under the tannoy to await the announcement, applauding politely and slapping each other quietly on the back if and when their crew was read out.  However, the city of Newcastle is not famed for its subtlety or piousness and the second 8 made sure this reputation was not ill founded.  The roar following the confirmation that ‘Newcaslte B’ had qualified was heard several miles away in greater Marlowe and carried on for such a time that the crews immediately after were unable to hear if they had qualified.  Such is life and the eight had confirmed their status in the elite and were to compete on the Wednesday.

The Regatta proper began the following Wednesday a passed in a blur of heats, races and showdowns.  Following the draw that pitted the crews against enemies both foreign and domestic, it fell to the second eight to start the campaign.  Whilst they may not have been the most stylish or fluid of crews, they more than compensated in guts and determination.  Stacked against a far larger Bristol crew they proceeded to compete in what one passer by described as ‘a real dogfight’.  With both crews consisting of the ‘foot soldiers’ of their respective clubs, it was an evenly matched, if slightly lower profile clash.  Following a bout of nerves off the start Newcastle trailed Bristol to the barrier before their solid rhythm and strong stroke rate began to tell.  Moving through halfway they smashed up a push and held a length lead over their southern counterparts.  Coming into the enclosures the boys in blue suffered a minor technical setback, resulting in a few bad strokes, allowing Bristol back in the game but, inch by slow inch they moved away clocking an impressive win by ¾ of a length.  Job done they allowed their two man his trademark histrionics and paddled back to the tents relieved and overjoyed at their win.

Sadly, the first eights race did not have quite the same overtures.  They had looked fearsome in the warm up races but, for whatever reason, they did not seem to click when they arrived on the race course.  They faced a tough UL crew who had earned a seed from the stewards and had declared it their ambition to win the Temple Challenge outright.  It was an unfortunate draw to get but, nevertheless, the boys were confident that, cometh the hour they could prevail.  However, as always in rowing, things did not quite go to plan.  Although a strong and hugely experienced crew, they were caught napping on the start line and were completely outgunned in the first 500 metres.  Coming out of the island they found themselves a length down and staring at defeat.  Cracks began to appear at halfway and UL moved to two and a half lengths clear and began to ease their stroke rate down.  Newcastle fans urged their eight to strike and strike again, but no such move came and, sadly, the first eight were defeated by two lengths.  Dispirited they rowed in, their hopes shattered.  The next day the second eight, although determined and plucky, were absolutely smashed by Nereus, the champions of Holland.  Ceding more than 2 stone a man in weight and about four years experience, they found themselves out of the race before halfway.  They kept the tempo high and inched back to lose by two lengths but, in all honesty, it was Game Over.  The opposition were simply too strong.

With both eights out it fell to the fours made up of the celebrities of our club to restore some pride.  George Rossiter, Sam Arnot, Ed Ford and Tim Clarke, coxed by Charles Barry were determined to return home with a small red box of victory.  And for so much of the tournament it seemed possible, dare I say likely, that this would happen.  The draw ensured that they would not meet Oxford Brookes – something of a demon crew to them – until the final and they set about the task of making that with gusto.  First up came Imperial College who were duly put to the sword, with Newcastle setting a new record to the Barrier in the process.  Bristol followed their London counterparts losing by a country mile to the huge Newcastle four with further records to halfway tumbling.  Through to the semi finals, the crew looked in fantastic shape to add another Henley win to Angelo’s impressive CV.

Joining them on the Saturday were the Visitor’s 4 of Murray Wilkojc, Chris Jeffers, Elia Salani and Sean Dixon.  Although they too had drawn a seeded crew in the form of Leander ‘The Club’ Club they were quietly convinced that they had it within them to progress to the semis.  Billed as a tight race, they were given a prime time slot and the spectators gathered to watch the home club, famed for producing former, current and future world champions pit their wits against the veteran Newcastle rowers.  Standing at the top of the enclosures the Toon army were ready to lend their vocal support to their former president and help him win what would surely be a gripping race… We were all disappointed.  Newcastle dismantled their opposition with ease and were so far clear by halfway that they had time to enjoy the views.  Although there were rumours that their opposition had been mistakenly seeded, there was something sweet about hearing the deadpan announcer call out ‘Newcastle University beat Leander Club, the verdict: Easily’.

So to semi final day.  The fans arrived with high hopes and aspirations, hoping the traditional barbeque would be one of expectant celebration. First up were the coxed four.  Facing down Harvard University from the USA, Charles Barry had prepared a race plan that would, hopefully, allow them progress to the final.  There was a feeling, whether accurate or not, that whoever won this race would take the tournament.  England expects…

The race was, truly, one of the greatest I have ever witnessed.  Newcastle exploded out of the blocks and roared to a length lead.  There they sat, their stern canvas on the bowball of the Harvard boat, stroke for stroke they kept their lead intact.  Crucially, they did not manage to break free of their opposition but still, a length is a long way in rowing.  Smashing through halfway they saw more records fall but this would be no consolation if the race was lost.  A huge push from Ed and Sam in the middle of the boat meant that they maintained their length lead and were sitting tall and imperious.  With less than a third of the race remaining Harvard threw all that they had.  Famed for their fitness and pedigree, the Americans raised the stakes and reduced our lead to half a length.  Up went the rate in the foreign boat to an unbelievable 40 strokes a minute.  The crews swept past us, with 300 metres to go and Newcastle were up by a canvas ready for one last, monumental effort.  Level in the last 100 metres Charles urged his engine room to slam the legs in one, final, colossal push.  The commentators upgraded their usual tone from ‘monotonous’ to ‘slightly interested’.  Through came the crews with ten strokes to go, dead level and blade to blade.  Glory awaited whichever crew mastered their own physical limits.  But only darkness came.  Harvard edged their canvas in front and Rossiter and Clarke were done.  Sheer effort and the brutal nature of the sport took its toll and, two strokes before the finish, our heroes collapsed.  They had done everything in their power and several things more to try and beat them but, on the day, it was not enough.  Although defeat is never something to savour, there are few examples of it coming at such a price.  Respect to Harvard, they proved themselves to be an incredible crew and proved it by beating Oxford Brookes by a length in the final.  Devastated, the boys paddled in, still suffering the after effects they were unable to lift their boat for a full 15 minutes until life returned to their limbs.

They were joined on the bank by the Visitors four who were beaten by their Irish counterparts in a tight race.  Down all the way, Newcastle were unable to find the speed necessary to beat their opposition and were defeated.

So comes the end of another domestic season.  Although the club will continue to compete at the National and European Championships the majority of the crews have disbanded and will await the autumn before returning to the campaign trail.  There will be another publicity officer ready to relate next year’s campaign and all members, old and new, will await the results eagerly.  With another intake of school and club rowers, plus another successful Novice year to be inaugurated, Newcastle will return next year wiser, stronger and hungrier for success.  You have been warned.

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Henley Preview

June 28th by admin

To the general Alumni and current members, greetings.

This wednesday, Newcastle University Boat Club begin their assault on Henley Royal Regatta.  Four crews, two eights and two fours, are set to do battle on the historic course over the coming week, each intent on outperforming expectations and shattering the dreams and aspirations of their rivals.

First up on Wednesday are the two eights who are competing in the Temple Challenge Cup:

Newcastle University ‘B’ vs University of Bristol ‘B’  -  1405

Having qualified on Friday, the second VIII take on Bristol in an extremely even and slightly Agricultural encounter (both crews qualified within two seconds of each other and row with similar aggressive styles). Crew: Nick Buckle, Ed Stephenson, Edmund Mackenzie, Henry Hilder, Freddy Snowden, James Pentlow, Andrew Curry and Matt Smith coxed by Ruaridh Macphee.

Newcastle University ‘A’ vs University of London  - 1720

Having pre qualified following strong performances in regatta season, the first VIII are up against a seeded and strong UL crew.  It is a crew we have done battle with all year and the scores are about even with both crews scoring victories over the other.  Although Newcastle are strong and experienced they face a tough challenge to overcome UL.  They are more than capable of upsetting the odds to knock out the seeded London crew. Crew: Matt Mckibbin, James Reeder, Tom Wright, Alex Leigh, Chris Morahan, Andy Hatzis, Nick Bartlett and Freddie Beard coxed by Rebecca Palmer.

The Prince Albert Challenge (academic coxed fours)

Newcastle University vs Imperial College – 1820

Also competing in a toon vs capital battle are the much fancied top 4+.  Having destroyed most opposition all year the four are hell bent on winning the Prince Albert Challenge Cup.  They too face tough London opposition but one they should be able to dispatch should all things go to plan.  With an expected average weight of 14 stone 10 ounces they have the muscle to strike fear into much of the opposition.  George Rossiter, Sam Arnot, Ed Ford and Tim Clarke coxed by Charles Barry.

Friday 1st July – Newcastle University vs Leander Club

In the Visitors Challenge, Newcastle University and several guest stars take on ‘the Club’ in a race that promises to be on an epic scale. They too face a seeded crew, although one with slightly less claim to fame than other crews in the event.  Fuelled by desire to repeat his Henley heroics of 2008, President Murray Wilcojk promises to go all out to bring home some silverware. Sean Dixon, Murray Wilcojk Chris Jeffers and Elia Salani.

Rumours of a defence of the Grand Challenge, won in spectacular style by Newcastle/Hollandia composite are unconfirmed. As is a sequel to the film The Social Network…

Please come and support if you can, your cheers will spur athletes to higher heights of glory and it promises to be a day of racing that will never be forgotten.  To war!

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