BUCS Rowing Regatta 2018

Gus Mckechnie By Gus Mckechnie

Gus Mckechnie was born with cerebral palsy but has never let that keep him back when getting outside. Here he takes us behind the scenes of being involved with a prestigious rowing event: BUCS regatta.

Getting outside can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors on your own. Some solace and time to reflect away from the masses. The sunset on the banks of the river Trent certainly gave me a chance to do that before BUCS Rowing Regatta.

Sunrise over the river at BUCS regatta

The numbers for the BUCS regatta, which is on the first May bank holiday of each month, are huge. In the space of three days over the first May bank holiday weekend, 2000 students supported by over 120 volunteers compete over the 2000 metre course at the National Water Sports Centre.

There is there option to camp at the water sports centre a cost effective and sometimes more fun option for a number of students. If you can get the rooms there is also a bed and breakfast option available.

I have a minor role to play in the regatta generating content for social media.

Volunteers are what help rowing events like this run. Very few clubs can afford to pay coaches and support staff.

Especially over the long hours that come with rowing, they really have to have a lover for the outdoors. The main focus sport for Holme Pier Point is canoeing.

Arriving on Friday afternoon you could see the Paralympic class canoeists doing pieces up and down the lake. Around the main lake there are areas that can be used for canoe polo and white water canoeing.

Female rowers
Female teams racing at BUCS

The volunteers at BUCS regatta will started moving before 6am and on the first two days the event finishes after 7pm. Before the umpires are briefed volunteers are getting the umpire launches ready and in place.

Lightweight rowers have to attend weigh ins to make weight before racing. With early starts and late finishes the umpires have to be organised into shifts.

Organising a race schedule is a fine art for the organisers. They want the best crews to make the finals but part of the balance is keeping all athletes interested in sport.

For all participants, the experience needs to be good enough they aren’t put off the sport or being active full stop. A well delivered experienced can keep participants wanting to be active.

Male rowing teams racing at BUCS

Each day starts with time trials, it is hectic on the landing stages as the crews line up to boat.

The umpires will be checking boats for key safety features such as the bow ball being securely attached and the boats meeting requirements. Crews boats can be turned away if either fail.

The time trials will decide who go forward into the finals, semi finals and minor finals.

If the weather is going to potentially affect the racing program later on as a last resort they can decide final results if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Double rowing team finishing their race
Female teams racing at BUCs rowing regatta

All being well it moves onto the semi-finals and repechages. There will be a break between the time trials and semi finals just an enough time for umpires to change shifts.

The weather in Nottingham for this year was extremely good. Each day ran smoothly, and everything stuck to the time table. The third and final part of each day got underway.

The minor finals got underway, the moment they begin side by side racing is constant and doesn’t stop until the final presentations. The last races of each day range from beginner, intermediate and championship.

BUCS regatta has year on year produced quality finals. Again, the volunteers working with BUCS support staff make sure the turn around on the landing stages giving out the medals is smooth, giving winners their moment whilst not interfering with the racing that is still going on.

The final has day has an extra set of presentations to give out with the Victor Ludorum trophies. Newcastle University had been so successful over the three days they took home the overall trophy.

If you are inspired to give rowing a go there are a number of options to get involved and many different clubs around the UK offering different styles of rowing. These include river rowing, coastal rowing and indoor rowing.

Check out British Rowing’s club finder on their website.

Gus Mckechnie By Gus Mckechnie


Gus is a world record holder, marathon runner, charity event organiser and wheelchair rugby player.

Find out more about Gus Mckechnie here.