The pinnacle of the Irish collegiate rowing calendar, the University Championships, took place on Saturday at the National Rowing Centre in Cork. The event, which was formerly held at the picturesque Castlewellan Lake in County Down, sees the strongest university crews from across the country compete for various trophies. The Wylie cup, which is awarded to the university which shows supremacy across novice, intermediate and senior men?s eights, is among the most sought after trophies in the Irish racing season. UCD claimed the Wylie cup in 2008, but Queen?s university Belfast took the title last year despite a resounding UCD victory at senior level. Unlike in previous years, this year?s event was raced over a rather more demanding 2000 metres than the 1500 metre course in Castlewellan.
The first Wylie cup event of the day was the novice eights final, which saw UCD?s well drilled second novice crew claim a comfortable victory over their DUBC counterparts. With one win already secured, UCD?s intermediate crew took to the water in the knowledge that victory would mean that the Wylie cup would be UCD?s. The crew had yet to race together in its line up, but they rowed to a convincing victory over their closest rivals UL, with DUBC and Queen?s behind them. Two wins out of the three eights events meant that UCD had won the Wylie cup, but the senior eights race, the final race of the day, remained. UCD faced Queen?s top senior boat, who finished 9th in the London head of the river earlier in the season. UCD did not have a poor race, but Queen?s finished just over a length ahead, with Queen?s second boat finishing third and UL forth.
The weekend?s racing leaves the season well poised, with UCD showing dominance in novice and intermediate eights, while the challenge of surpassing Queen?s remains a goal at senior level. The coming weeks sees a plethora of regatta racing, where UCD will hope to build on their performances thus far and take home plenty of silverware in the process. Neptune regatta in Islandbridge takes place on Saturday the 17th, I encourage anyone interested to come down and support UCDBC.