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After a trying few months, plagued by illness and injury, ice and inundation, we finally reached our first climax to the year in Peterborough. This two day event was the first opportunity to race against the other universities.

Saturday was the day of the beginners with two divisions of fearsome competition raced in four categories: Men’s and Women’s 8s and 4s. The first divisions saw the Men’s 8 and Women’s 4 cruise to victory with the Women a comfortable 22seconds ahead of Newcastle and the Men beating Nottingham by 2 seconds to claim gold.

In the second division, once again the Women proved their dominance to race to gold in the 8 over Reading by 4 seconds, an excellent foothold considering four of them already had one race in their legs. The second Men’s boat, the 4 had a good race and came 7th. After a successful days racing the squad came away with 3 golds.

The following day saw the first major showcase of the talent in the Senior Squad, with all athletes competing in at least two divisions.

Division one saw the two Women’s 8s racing, both events having been in Durham’s hands since at least 2004. The whole squad having been severely affected by illness the past term and a half, the second 8 was a little thin on the ground so two fresher’s warmed up from their previous days racing, along with a super sub in Phoebe Cowen. They finished the race with the Intermediate 8 coming first and the Championship 8 in second.

The Men’s squad split their 8s into fours with half the 1st 8 in the Championship 4+ and the other half in Championship 4x, in Division 2. The 2nd 8 raced as the Championship 4- and Intermediate 4+. The lightweights raced as a 4x, but unfortunately didn’t make the start in time for their 4- in Division 2.

By the end of Division 2, the Men’s Squad had won a gold in the Champ 4x, silvers in Champ 4+ and 4-, missing out on gold in the 4- by 0.1seconds, bronze in the Int 4+ and a disappointing 5th in the Lwt4x.

The Women also split in to 4s and 4xs, with the Champ 4x winning gold with a large margin of almost 13seconds. The Champ 4- came second in their event to Reading by 4seconds and the Lwt 4x came third. The Champ 4+, half of the 2nd 8, came 6th in a hard race against what for most clubs would have been their top athletes.

The last division of the day also had the Men’s 8s racing in Champ and Intermediate events. The Intermediate 8 stormed to victory, beating second place Bristol by 15 seconds. Unfortunately the 1st 8 did not have as good a race as hoped, finalising in the last 500m raced with one athlete almost passed out, doing so across the line. They finished just outside the medals in 4th place; still a work in progress, especially with the likes of Oxford Brookes and Queen’s, Belfast, not competing.

Overall the event turned out to be a very successful day with Durham topping the BUCS Leaderboard with 121 points to Reading’s 119. A little close for comfort, but a good place to start our BUCS Regatta campaign from.