STAGING Dramatic scenes at the 2009 Welsh Varsity Boat Race - British Rowing

Dramatic scenes at the 2009 Welsh Varsity Boat Race

Cardiff and Swansea Universities gave fantastic performances at the VarsityBoat Race on Wednesday 22nd April in the Welsh capital. The conditions were perfect and the months of training culminated in a dramatic day of racing on the River Taff.

The events kicked off with the Fresher Women battling it out. The girls of Cardiff University proved too strong for their Swansea counterparts and won by three lengths. Next to follow was an eagerly anticipated Mens Fresher race. The crews were neck and neck for over half of the course before a clash of blades left the Swansea bowman with his blade firmly bedded in the water after an almighty ‘crab’. From then on it was Cardiff’s victory for the taking. The jubilant Cardiff Freshers were humble in their victory as they realised that the result should have been a lot closer.


Next up were the Senior Womens eight. Both universities were hyped for this race but as with the Fresher Women’s race it was Cardiff University that led from the start for a comfortable victory.

The last event was billed as the main event – the Senior Men eight. This year saw a fitter and stronger Swansea crew take on a Cardiff crew that were certainly the favourites. As the crews come round to the final straight the crowds at the finish line were cheering on their respective Universities.

But continual clashing of oars gave the umpire no other option but to stop the race. For a few moments there was confusion on the banks as the crews were seen to stop in the middle of the river. Then the announcement came through – a re-row!! So once again the crews lined up at the start. Another close race ensued with the crews battling toe-to-toe all the way. With the crews approaching the finish it was Cardiff that had the lead by a canvas. The crowds watched on with anticipation as the closest and most exciting race in the history of the event unfolded.

Three lengths from the line the crews clashed again and it was the Swansea boys that pulled away to take the victory. Pandemonium followed on the river banks with the huge throng of Swansea fans going wild on the banks. The unthinkable had happened!!!

The presentations followed with guest presenter, The First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan. He showed great enthusiasm for the event praising the commitment and dedication of all the competitors as well as the coaches and organising committee.

The President of Cardiff University Rowing Club, Penny Challans was delighted with Cardiff’s overall victory on the day:  "All the tough training paid off for our fresher’s and women’s crews and the day also saw the first race for our newly named novice men’s boat after old CURC rower Todd Burrows.  After the disappointingly close loss in the Senior Mens race we’re looking forward to regaining the trophy next year in what I’m sure will be another exciting day of racing!"

The Swansea University Rowing Club Captain, Jenny Staight praised the dedication of her crews and despite the overall loss she was elated with the victory for the Senior Mens crew: "The performances of the Swansea crews were magnificent. I’m so pleased that the Senior Men were able to beat their Cardiff rivals in such dramatic fashion. This is a massive achievement for the club and I hope this win will able us to attract sponsorship for next year!"

The event was a fantastic success for all involved and next year it will hopefully be bigger and better.

Sam Cranston
Welsh Boat Race Coordinator 2009