BUCS Regatta

May 2, 2022
By Abigail Wilhelm

24 hours before BUCS began, and we didn’t even have a boat. Queen Mary, our ULBC neighbors, kindly agreed to trailer our boat, Connie, to BUCS so we could race in the Women's Championship 4-. We feared that Connie wouldn’t pass the safety check, as she has a Tupperware container duct taped to her to keep the water out, but we figured we had to try. If all else failed, at least there are cheaper pubs in Nottingham. Abby, Margo, and Maggie, motivated by Francesca’s promise of snacks, took the long commute to Chiswick to strap our good ol’ reliable Connie down for her road trip.

Margo, Eleanor, Abby, and Maggie braved a cheaper coach to Nottingham, while Francesca took the train in style to have more revision time. We spent Sunday thrifting and finishing summative in coffee shops, spotting at least 7 Hen-Dos. Abby wanted to join in on the party, but her teammates made her focus on the race ahead. After an evening of carb-loading and race planning it was an early night in preparation for our 6am wake-up on Monday morning.

By some miracle, the Oxford University Men’s lightweight team very kindly let us borrow their Hudson for the race, so Connie became a spectator and we drooled over the swanky new boat that even had water bottle holders. We also learned we were in the same race as an Olympian (no pressure!)... everyone loves an underdog story.

Eleanor’s parents and her dog, Dougie, came, making up the entire LSE cheering section. Our other supporters watched virtually across the UK and US. With their support, we prepared for the time trial. 1500m to see how we compared to our competition. Let’s just say, we go to the London School of Economics for a reason, and it isn’t because we are winning Olympic medals. Despite this, a great effort was made, and we dusted the time trial off to prepare for the repechage.

The repechage was 2000m, side by side. For all of us, this was our first post-pandemic 2k- how exciting (or utterly nerve racking).  With Maggie and Margo’s dynamic duo in stern pair, Abby and Francesca coxed and steered the 4- down the racecourse. It wasn’t exactly to victory, but we focused on our own race and swing. We also didn’t break the boat we borrowed much to the delight of the LSE Rowing bank account.

We spent the rest of the afternoon having a picnic along the bank and watching the rest of the races, the perfect way to spend a bank holiday Monday. Finally, there was just enough time for happy hour cocktails and McDonald’s, which made the coach ride home a bit of a nightmare on one’s stomach. A lesson to be learned for next time.

Author’s Note:

I am so proud to train and race with these incredible women. They made London home for an American studying abroad. They inspire me and encourage me to be a better person, student and rower daily. It has been an absolute joy and privilege rowing on the Tideway with them in front and behind me. Thank you for the laughs, the travels, and even the early mornings. I love you.