The Best University Boat Clubs That Aren’t Cambridge or Oxford

A popular view, when it comes to rowing and British universities, is the dark blue of Oxford and Cambridge’s night blue boat battling it out for victory on West London’s River Thames. The Cambridge-Oxford Boat Race, however, is in a league of its own and athletes attend these universities solely for the purpose of rowing.

Fortunately, athletes have bona fide opportunities outside of those two esteemed institutions as there are a number of other higher education clubs that are performing very well indeed. Reading aside, each is appointed as a hub for High Performance Programmes. This means that their clubs are funded by the National lottery and have a history of training rowers who are looking to make the national rowing squad. That’s a level worthy of respect.

British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the UK’s Higher Education governing body, organises numerous leagues and events. The BUCS Regatta is the most respected of the BUCS rowing events, with the winner being the team with the highest number of points. However, there are a number of other BUCS events, which include the Heads of the River, the Fours and Eights Head, the BUCS Small Boats Head, and the Indoor Championship.

University rowing teams also participate in the International Universities Race, the World University Championships, the EUSA Championships, and Henley Royal Regatta. Other inter-university races include the Boat Race of the North, with Durham and Newcastle going head-to-head. Other examples of universities participating in BUCS rowing events are East London, Exeter, Cardiff, Bangor, Surry, Loughborough, Oxford, and St Marys.

University of London

Perhaps unsurprisingly, being such a prestigious university in the capital, The University of London’s boat club has put in some great performances at, not just at national level, but also the World Championships. That’s especially true in the Henley Women’s Regatta, and of its very first eight-man squad in the Head of the River Race.

Oxford Brookes University

The university’s boathouse is located at the home of the renowned Henley Regatta and downstream of a part of the river that is briefly termed the Isis and the University of Oxford boat club rows. The boat club was established in 1978. Previous members achieved gold and silver medals at the Athens 2004 Olympics, Sydney 2000, and Beijing 2008, as well as in London 2012.

Newcastle University

The Armstrong College Boat Club was established in 1911 as a club solely for men before a women’s team was introduced in the 1920’s. It competes with Durham University each year in the Boat Race of the North. NUBC has achieved some impressive success in recent times. It won the overall Victor Ludorum trophy at the BUCS Regatta in 2016 for the very first time

Imperial College London

Certainly, it was appropriate that, in 2003, Imperial College Boat Club was successful in winning the Prince Albert Challenge Cup as the university was established by the Prince in 1907. Rowers from the university have been victorious at Olympic, Under-23 International, and Senior International levels.