The Henley Toast - Celebrating the successes of the 2007 Men's Squad

After the success of the 1991 Temple-winning crew reunion at Henley Royal Regatta in 2016, followed by champagne in the boat tents, a general consensus was reached that ‘fizz is a good idea’ - cue trawling UBBC records to find noteworthy anniversary crews as an excuse to host a similar drinks event in 2017, traditionally held during the tea break on regatta Saturday.

It was a brief search, back just 10 years to 2007. Bristol did not win Henley that year, but the performances of the UBBC men’s eight were easily, and are still, strong enough to raise a glass to ten years later. No men’s eight has come close to repeating that level of performance at Bristol in the past decade - and for that reason alone… Cheers!

At Henley Royal Regatta in 2018 we will raise a glass to the crew that won Henley Women’s Regatta in 1998. Until then, please take a moment to acquaint, or remind, yourself with the achievements of the 2007 UBBC men’s squad.

_____

The scene is set - after achieving a silver medal in men’s champ eights behind Oxford Brookes at BUSA (now BUCS) regatta in May 2006, the crew went on to pick up a bronze medal at the European equivalent event in early September 2006. They were again beaten by Oxford Brookes, who took silver, whilst a crew from the Czech Republic won the event held in Brive, France. Perhaps it should be noted that OBUBC had also won the Temple and the Visitors at Henley in 2006. However, EUSA 2006 is perhaps best remembered for the short-lived ‘drinking blade’ which was a key participant in that evening’s celebrations. Another crucial result is that we beat OBUBC in an arm-wrestling challenge, which was finally decided by the ninth man i.e. the coxswains. Chapeau Simon Wilson.

_____

Winter camp - was held in Banyoles in the earliest days of 2007. We shared the lake with Cambridge University Boat Club and two crews from each institution raced on the final day of camp. A staggered start ensured some high quality racing in the final 500m, with the Blue Boat unsurprisingly taking the honours. However, the strong Bristol ‘A’ crew performance surprised many, and the impact of this unexpected early test featured in the sport psychologist Mark de Rond’s book about his year spent with CUBC. Cambridge went on to win that year’s Boat Race.

_____

Head of the River 2007 - was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, but not before the first 50 crews had set off. Starting at 34, UBBC I had closed up aggressively on Molesey III in the early part of the course, before sinking just after Barnes Bridge.

_____

April - for the first time in five years, Bristol reclaimed the Varsity blade from UWE. In the year before, the men’s eight race had been a dead heat, which was then rerowed with UWE victorious. In 2007, Bristol victories were largely recorded across the board, with us winning 4-1 overall. A photo of Martin Herbert, that year’s club captain, celebrating with all of the other club members crowded behind him, was used for many years on the ARA (now British Rowing) website to promote university rowing.

_____

May - an indisputably strong performance at BUSA regatta, although we finished out of the medals in Men’s Championship Eights. If an excuse is needed, the blame can easily be shifted onto the Holme Pierrepoint cross-winds. The standout performances here came after splitting the men’s eight into two smaller boats, where we won Gold in Championship Coxless Fours and Silver in Championship Coxed Fours.

_____

June - seat racing was required for the final seat in the men’s eight, as one of the crew (Matt Steeds) was ineligible for Henley due to his medal in a GB vest at FISU 2006. Matt rowed for Leander in the Ladies Plate event at HRR 2007. The result of a forced personnel change was most unexpected, as replacing the largest ergo in the boat with the fifth bowsider somehow made the eight go a lot faster. That crew went on to win S2 (now IM1) Eights at Metropolitan Regatta, and Elite Eights at Reading Amateur Regatta. Pete Randolph and Matt Steeds also won the Poke Pairs cup at Met. The winning streak finally came to an end when the crew came up against the Oxford University / Oxford Brookes composite crew (entered into the Ladies Plate at HRR) at Marlow Regatta - pushing them close, but finishing short by canvas at Dorney Lake.

_____

Pre-Henley 2007 - the annual UBU sports dinner. The Boat Club won an embarrassing selection of awards; picking up the Team of the Year (Men’s 1st VIII), Sportsman of the Year (Matt Steeds) and Outstanding Contribution to Sport (Martin Herbert) awards.

_____

Henley Royal Regatta, July 2007 - notable for the incredibly strong current on the Henley course. Swathes of the English countryside were underwater, and portions of the course had not been fully constructed due to the weather conditions. Having beaten all of the other domestic club and student-level men’s eights during regatta season, Bristol had rightly been selected as the fastest UK university crew in the draw. However, it would have to be done the hard way, by winning from the Bucks station each day until the final round - this proved to be a significant factor throughout the regatta, especially noted during the final ten strokes of each race. The crew were drawn against UBBC ‘B’ on the Wednesday, before dispatching with Oxford Brookes on the Thursday. On Friday, the crew faced the undefeated US Lightweight champions from Cornell. In a race where the lead changed hands multiple times, we were leading into and through the enclosures, however we were beaten in the final few strokes by a quarter of a length. Cornell were eventual runners-up, beaten narrowly by a freshmen crew from the University of California, Berkeley.

UBBC 'A' vs. UBBC 'B'

_____

Summer 2007 - a quartet of the squad stay in Bristol to train for the upcoming EUSA Regatta, to be held in Banyoles (Girona) in September 2007. Pete Randolph (UBBC Men’s Captain 2006-07) is also selected as the stroke man for the GB U23 men’s eight. In Spain later that summer, the crew managed to beat everyone in the coxless fours competition, including the majority of a German national U23 crew. As a result of this achievement, Bristol Reds were awarded to Pete Randolph, Mark Roberts, Matt Steeds & Edward Walton.

_____

Later that Autumn - Gordon Trevett was voted BUSA Coach of the Year, in a nationwide competition.

_____

 

Here’s to the 2007 men’s squad. Cheers!

 

Adam Mackenzie

UBBC ‘B’ Strokeman, HRR 2007

UBBC Club Captain 2008/09


Manage your Membership

Join as a new member or update your contact details and donation amounts:


Keep up to date with the UBBC Alumni/Nonesuch BC on social media: