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University of the West of England Boat Club

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University of the West of England Boat Club
Coach(es) Nicholas Quirke (HC), Mark Hunter, Mike Murphy
Location Bristol, UK
Contact c/o UWESU, Frenchay Campus
Founded 1980s
Home Water Bristol Docks, River Avon
Membership 130+
Affiliations British Rowing
Bristol Varsity Boat Race
Notable Members
Pete Reed, Fred Smallbone

University of the West of England Boat Club (abbreviated to UWEBC) is the rowing club for the University of the West of England.

The majority of UWEBC rowers begin as novices. A small number of rowers have transferred from local and school boat clubs.

The club retains a full time Director of Rowing and several part-time coaches for the novice squads. These part-time coaches are regularly assisted by senior squad members.

The club also maintains links with an Alumni club, Coldharbour Boat Club. Alumni are encouraged to get in touch.


Recent successes and developments

Head of the River Race 2012:

  • 81st place, UWEBC I, 00:19:14.55
  • 175th place, UWEBC II, 00:19:50.68
  • 319th place, UWEBC III, 00:20:49.83

Women's Eights Head of the River Race 2012:

  • 54th place, UWEBC A, 00:21:43.97
  • 183rd place, UWEBC B, 00:23:42.38
  • 247th place, UWEBC C, 00:24:53.71

Metropolitan Amateur Regatta Saturday Finals 2012:

  • 1st place, IM2 1x
  • 3rd place, IM3 4+

Metropolitan Amateur Regatta Sunday Finals 2012:

  • 2nd place, IM1 2-

Reading Amateur Regatta Sunday Finals 2012:

  • 1st place, IM1 8+

Marlow Regatta Sunday Finals 2012:

  • 1st place, IM1 2-
  • 1st place, IM2 4+


Membership is open to current students of the University as well as alumni members and public members, at an increasing cost, i.e. public members will pay the most. Purchasing a sports passport from the Union covers members on the BUCS insurance policy.


UWEBC operates on a squad system of senior men and women, novice/fresher men and women, and a recreational rowing group when the demand arises. Training consists of water outings, ergos, circuits, fitness sessions as well as coached strength and conditioning sessions for seniors. Novice squads may focus on rowing for the first term at least, but all competent rowers are encouraged to become proficient in sculling as the club will commonly enter quads and doubles at regattas as well.

Club members may also attend UWEBC training camps, commonly an overseas trip in January before term starts and an Easter camp closer to home.

The club participates in BUCS events to earn points for the University. In addition, the club will field crews for local head races, HORR, WEHORR and Fours Head. The regatta season sees UWE crews competing at Met, Marlow, Reading, Henley Royal, Henley Women's and the British National Championships. In recent years, successful UWE crews at BUCS have been selected for the EUSA European Universities' Championship Regatta.

Advanced Athletes Group

This has been set up by the University to provide specialist services to athletes reaching certain sporting criteria (typically representing their region or country, but it is dependant on the sport). These services may include one-on-one strength and conditioning, body composition analysis, nutrition services, sports science testing, orthotics, physio and so on. Athletes on this scheme may also be able to apply for grants.

Bristol Varsity Boat Race

Main article: Bristol Varsity Boat Race

The Varsity is an annual match between the University of Bristol Boat Club and UWESU over 1,300m on the Bristol Docks. The races usually occur either the week before or the week after BUCS Regatta, and for many the annual grudge match forms the pinnacle of the regatta calendar.


UWEBC trains at the Bristol Ariel boathouse for water sessions, although they may occasionally train on the city docks and the perfectly-straight Feeder Canal. Training on weights and ergos is held at the University's Frenchay Campus in the £5.5m Centre for Sport. Equipment, premises/club house, land training, racking...


The club is financially supported by student membership fees, private sponsorship and by the University's Student Union. UWE's Centre for Sport funds the professional coaching staff. The Student Union may assist with transport, training camps, and representation at BUCS accredited events.


  • Initiations: a challenge for new boat club members and those wishing to show their loyalty to the cause. It is not compulsory, some people wishing to prove themselves in boatspeed instead.
  • Three-legged Pub Crawl: Bristol's Park Street is infamous for its gradient. This is where the three-legged pub crawl takes place (n.b. leg-ties may not be removed for toilet trips, even if the partner is of the opposite sex).
  • Bath Pub Crawl: a themed fancy-dress pub crawl in Bath, the tradition was started by Dickie Pullan in 1995.
  • Christmas Ball: a ticketed black tie event at the end of the first term.
  • Varsity Ball: a ticketed black tie event held on the day of the Bristol Varsity Boat Race, sometimes in conjunction with the University of Bristol Boat Club.
  • Henley Picnic: organised by Coldharbour Boat Club, it takes place in Butlers Field on the Saturday of Henley Royal Regatta. Picnic-ers usually bring a bottle of Pimms which is traditionally served from watering cans.


An elected committee makes decisions Coaching staff employed by University Executive co Sports council, students union, constitution Operational management


The club was formed in the early 1980s by past student Steve Howie and has always been open to both men and women. The first boathouse was at the Bristol Ariel Rowing Club on the River Avon, to the east of Bristol until the 1990s when an agreement was reached with City of Bristol Rowing Club for rack rental. The club gradually moved back to Bristol Ariel between 2008 and 2010 due to the increasing rent and development on the docks.

Professional coaching

Fred Smallbone, men's squad, 2002-2010.

Chantelle Hanley, women's squad, 2004-2010.

In 2010 the club and Students' Union Executive decided to create a Director of Rowing position to oversee men's and women's rowing. The first holder of this position was ex- Birmingham University coach, Stuart Redden, 2010-2012. Nicholas Quirke succeeded the position, and is also an ex-UWE student.

Nick is currently assisted by Olympian Mark Hunter and Mike Murphy, who has invested a great deal of time in the club in recent years.

Henley appearances

Appearances at Henley Royal Regatta. A crew qualified for the Temple Challenge Cup in 1998(?). This was a watershed for the club, managing to secure a professional part-time coach (Fred Smallbone) for the Men's Senior Squad on the back of this performance.

In 2005, the Men's Senior Squad reached the semi final in the same cup at Henley Royal Regatta, beaten by the eventual winners Cornell University and being the last British crew left in the competition.

Further success was found at Henley in 2008 when Smallbone tutored a coxed four to the Final of the Prince Albert Challenge Cup, beaten narrowly by a strong crew from Newcastle University Boat Club. The four stroked by Mike Ewing went onto win Silver at the British National Championships and then Gold in the men's u23 coxless fours at the Home International Regatta for England.

Several crew members have returned to win at Henley Royal Regatta after graduation, including Oliver Bottrel and Mike Ewing, who won the Wyfolds Challenge Cup after putting in a blistering final few strokes to take the lead from London Rowing Club in 2010.

European University Championship representation

Uwebc has seen many of it's crews go on to represent both the university and the British team at the annual European Universities Sports Association championships. Most recently having sent a lightweight men's quad scull to the Amsterdam championships in 2010, placing 4th in the A-final in a time of 6:03.98. That same quad having won Gold at the British National Championships and Bronze at BUCS Regatta earlier that season under the watchful eye of Smallbone.

See also


External links