Welcome to this Life
Welcome. The following article will give you an idea of what to expect of your novice year in the club.
Almost everyone who joins in Freshers week has had no prior experience of rowing. There are varying levels of fitness in our new members so our training begins lightly with two land circuit sessions during the week to get everyone to the same base level of fitness. The water sessions are done in 8-man boats at the weekend.
Land training: Tuesday & Thursday in UCD Sports Centre @ 6.30 – 8 pm
Water training: Saturday & Sunday on the Liffey in Islandbridge. Due to the large numbers who sign up, you are usually given a time to come down between 9 & 12.
After our 1st circuit session of the year and a brief meeting to introduce you to the club, we have our ‘Freshers Night Out’ in town. This is a chance for you to meet our experienced members and the other guys you’ll be rowing with.
Already you’ll be starting to feel fitter and stronger than ever. The land & water training sessions continue. Your technique on the water will be improving continuously thanks to coaching from our experienced members, alumni and our Director of Rowing. Boat line-ups will begin to form and a bit of healthy squad competition for seats in the 1st boat develops. You will start to realise why rowing is the ultimate team sport.
Our P.R.O arranges a few more ‘break the ice’ nights out on campus or in town with the novices from the Ladies Boat Club, usually providing a source of scandal to be discussed in training.
The month of the carnage that is the Boat Club Ball. This black-tie event is one of the best nights of the college year and always a source of scandal for the club gossips to discuss.
And what better way to cure a hangover and relive the events of the night before than go on a 4hour plus hike up some mountain the next morning in the glorious weather conditions of November?
Training wise, another land session of ergometer (rowing machine) work and an introductory weights circuit is introduced during the week.
Before the Christmas break, you will be inducted into competitive racing at the notorious Butler Cup. An all day drinking fest starting early at the boathouse while competing in a knockout competition against your fellow 1st year novices in the indestructible & unsinkable two man battleships known as the ‘tubs’. This proud competition dates back to the 1930s. Rules of racing? Anything goes.
When the festivities at the boathouse finish, we then proceed with your induction to UCD’s legendary rowing pub in town, Hartigan’s, and yet another boat club tradition – The Island-Hopping Challenge.
The racing season starts in January with what are known as ‘Heads of the River’. These are long distance time trials ranging from 3.5 km to 6 km rows on different rivers around the country. The importance of having a good coxswain becomes clear here. It is their job to steer the shortest line around bendy courses and guide the crew safely through bridges and other obstacles.
The more experienced members of the club usually head off on a training camp around this time. In 2008, the Intermediate squad flew to Seville for a week-long intensive training camp at the same time that the Irish lightweight & GB national squads were there training for the Olympics.
At this stage of the season, you will have been introduced to the joys of ‘erg testing’.
These are 2km or 5km rows against the clock used by the coaches to aid in selection choices and test your mental toughness in addition to your fitness.
Racing in Headraces continues with Dublin Head through the city centre and Lagan Head in Belfast.
The first of the club’s big three targets every year are the 1-on-1 Colours Races against our old rivals, Trinity College. There are 4 races on the day and are raced through the city centre attracting large crowds of spectators. For our new members, this will be your first experience of side by side racing and two of the events are specifically for those in their 1st year of rowing. Being selected for a seat in this race should be a one of your early aims for the season.
Sally Moorhead Trophy: 1st Year Ladies Dan Quinn Shield: 1st Year Men
The Corcoran Cup: Senior Women The Gannon Cup: Senior Men
In 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the Gannon Cup, UCD made history achieving a magnificent clean sweep in all four races. In both men’s races, UCD showed their strength and composure after going down off the start to come back and row through Trinity to win.
The 1st weekend consists of Neptune & Commercial Regattas. These are 1-on-1 knockout regattas over 1,200m & 1,000m courses on our own stretch of river in Islandbridge.
The University Championships & Queen’s Regatta are held the following weekend on a 6-lane 1,500m course in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland. The UniChamps are the 2nd of the club’s top 3 racing priorities of the year.
Exam time. College obviously comes first although training still continues as much as it can during the exam period. After the exams, the club usually moves its water training out to Blessington Lake in Wicklow, where high-intensity work is capable of being done with little interruption. And yes, the rowing season is not yet over!!!
Metropolitan Regatta takes place in early June. This is 2,000m racing on a 6lane straight course on Blessington Lake and is a good indicator of form for the approaching National Championships.
After Metro, the club’s committee makes a decision on whether to compete abroad or remain in Ireland for the last few remaining weeks of the season.
In past seasons, the club competed at several international regattas in the UK; Henley Royal Regatta, Reading Regatta, Marlow Regatta (venue for the London 2012 Rowing Olympics) and had a training camp in Oxford.
This is what you have trained for all season.
To win a National Championship.
This will be your toughest and fastest race of the season. Every club in the country trains to race at their peak here.
You get one shot. The season ends here. Race to win.