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Questions about getting involved in UCBC

Questions about racing

Questions about UCBC social life


What is rowing?
Rowing is a sport in which athletes race against each other in boats on rivers or lakes. There are many different classes of boats and different types of racing, such as bumps racing, regattas, and head races.


Where is the University College Boathouse located?
The University College Boathouse is conveniently located on the south bank of the Isis (i.e. the River Thames in Oxford), opposite the row of college boathouses. To get to the boathouse, cross Folly Bridge just past Christ Church college and turn left onto the towpath, following the river until you reach the boathouse.


Where can I find out more about the University College rowing/coxing program?
The best place to find out more is the ton of useful information for potential rowers and coxswains around this website. Check out the introductions to rowing and coxing , and take a look at some of our videos and photos to find out what an amazingly fun and social sport is rowing at Univ!

We also have a stall at the Univ Freshers' Fair in Freshers' Week, followed by a rowing 'taster day', where all of our new students have the opportunity to try out rowing, have a go on the rowing machines and ask plenty of questions to our coaches and committee team. Of course, if you have any questions before then, please feel free drop one of the committee members a line.


How do I join UCBC?
Welcome aboard! Following the initial rowing 'taster day', we have a big meeting to tell you everything you need to know about the program, answer any questions, and sign up rowers and coxswains into novice crews. We look forwards to seeing you then! 


I have no rowing/coxing experience at all - can I still join?
Absolutely yes! The overwhelming majority of our rowers and coxswains come to Univ as first-time novices, and many of those in our top boats learnt to row at UCBC. It's our mission to provide a fun and rewarding program for everyone of all abilities and time commitments!


What If I can't swim - how will I pass the swim test?
We do everything possible to make your rowing experience fun, active, and above all safe! As such, the swim test is compulsory and really important! If you haven't had much swimming experience, let your Mens or Womens Vice-Captain know and we'll do our best to train you for the test. If you do not know how to swim at all, we strongly suggest taking a few lessons before coming to Oxford, as regulations prohibit rowers or coxswains from competing without first passing the test.


How much does it cost to join UCBC?
University College Boat Club is very fortunate to enjoy the support of the College, corporate sponsors and our generous alumni, who give us vastly subsidized access to the best coaches, boats and facilities. Subscription fees for novices in Michaelmas are just £17.50. Fees for other terms are similar and you can see the latest in our constitution. The only other expenses are optional formal dinners and college 'stash' (or clothing).


I rowed in school - what can UCBC offer me?
University College Boat Club is privileged to have access to substantial endowments, corporate sponsorship and generous support by alumni, which gives our experienced rowers unrivalled oppportunities to reach their full potential. Read more here.


How often do we train?
How much each crew trains depends entirely up to it members! We form novice crews based solely on how much time and commitment rowers wish to dedicate - the Novice A's will train approximately 4-5 days a week, while the more casual Novice D's might only train on the weekends. 


Do I have to row in the morning?
At first, only if you want to! In Michaelmas, crews arrange their training sessions themselves depending on when every rower is available, which is usually in the morning or evening. Besides, nothing compares to rowing on the Isis as dawn breaks!


What if it rains/snows during practice?
Rowing in the rain is fun at times, actually, except when it’s cold. But…regardless, we still row in the rain. If there is thunder/lightning/high winds/poor visibility, we do not row.


What if I have class on one of the days during practice?
We try to arrange practice outings for a time convenient with everyone in the crew, which is why we usually train in the mornings or on the weekends. If you have a class clash, please let your coach or Vice-Captain know as early as possible, so we can find a substitute in plenty of time.


I'm a keen student; will rowing take up my too much of my revision time? 
Every one of us is a student, and we're extremely mindful of the need to balance study and rowing. We do our best to accommodate your time commitment, by assigning our novice crews (and to an extent, our lower Hilary and Trinity boats) based solely on how much free time everyone has. Of course, rowing is a great way to de-stress from studying, and a great many of our members go on to be awarded 1:1 results in Prelims, Mods and Finals (one of our rowers gained the highest University score for PPE prelims while rowing with the Men's 3rd VIII!). 


I’m interested in learning to row, but I don’t want to be very competitive or dedicate much of my time to crew. Should I still come?
Definitely! We accommodate every skill level and time commitment.


I feel like I’m too small to row – should I still join?
Yes! Most of our coxes also row, so there is a place for every height. Of course, we'd love for you to try your hand at coxing as well!


What racing will I do as a novice?
The first race of the year is the Nepythys Regatta in mid-Michaelmas, which involves side-by-side race-offs between novice Oxford crews. In 2012 year Univ's Men's Novice A won Nepythys Regatta. The next race is Christ Church Regatta, which is the same side-by-side format for novices. Univ also runs an indoor rowing machine competition, which draws large numbers of competitors.

In Hilary, the big event is Torpids, followed by the ultimate event 'Summer Eights'; the highlight of any Oxford rowers season! There are many other small regattas and day races throughout the year as well, including Head of the River, Bedford Regatta and Oriel Regatta.


What is 'Torpids' and 'Summer Eights'?
Torpids and Summer Eights are the two major bumps races of the year; Torpids runs in Hilary term, Summer Eights in Trinity. They draw massive crowds of spectators and supporters in a big 'carnival' atmosphere, and are undoubtedly the highlight of a rower's season.


What are bumps races?
Bumps racing is a type of rowing race used in Oxford and Cambridge, where the river is too narrow for many crews to row abreast. Crews line up along the river, one after the other, and when the cannon is fired, they attempt to 'bump' the crew ahead while avoiding being caught by the boat behind. A 'bump' is made either by making physical contact with the boat ahead or when their cox concedes by raising their arm. It leads to some very exciting and heart-pumping racing!


What is an 'erg'?
An erg is an ergometre, or a rowing machine. It is the treadmill equivalent to rowing, and is used for land training and testing. 


Do we travel?
The Men's and Women's 1st VIIIs regularly travel to Eton Dorney, Wallingford and Caversham for training, and travel to London to compete in the Head of the River Races. All of these expenses are covered by the club.


Do we train year-round?
Throughout term from October to June, crews are regularly training in readiness for Torpids and Summer Eights. Over the vacation, its rowers usually continue land and weight training.


Do we miss class for racing?
Yes - Christ Church Regatta, Torpids and Eights run from Wednesdays to Saturdays during term time. However, a significant proportion of students in Oxford Univeristy are rowers, and so many tutors are very flexible and happy to reschedule. Just be sure to get permission form your tutor well in advance, and let us know early if you've got any problems that might prevent you from participating.


What sort of social activities does UCBC do?
UCBC is not only the largest sports club in Univ, but also the most social. We have regular crew dates with other colleges, attend Captain's Cocktails at nightclubs after Christ Church Regatta, and have big formal dinners before hitting the town and enjoying ourselves in massive university-wide parties after Torpids and Summer Eights. Our motto: train hard, play hard.


What is a 'crew date'?
A crew date is a dinner organised between two crews from different colleges, when vast quantities of cheap wine, Lamb Korma and pride are swallowed in the pursuit of a great evening's fun!