British Rowing Sculling Festival 2018 – A Competitor’s View

Earlier this month, women’s senior squad member Helen Waller, along with student summer members Beth Grant of Northumbria Uni and Emma Wilson of Leicester Uni, made the trip to Holme Pierrepoint to represent YCRC at the British Sculling Festival. Helen, competing in the U23 women’s event came a fab 9/17 rowers overall, and Beth and Emma came a great 4/17 and 16/17 respectively in the university women’s beginners event. Well done to all!

Coming in the middle of summer, the event flies a little under the radar, and includes some aspects of on the water competition perhaps less familiar to non-junior rowers – so we asked Helen to tell us more…

“Earlier this month I competed in the British Sculling Festival; a two-day omnium event at The National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham. I arrived to register, collect my number and pick up my swanky BSF t-shirt before meeting Phil who had brought Boris the Boat down – major shout out to Phil the Legend for his car-topping skills and race advice!

The event started with a 3800m time trial – that means race most of the way up the 2k course, spin, and race back down. I felt confident having got into a strong rhythm on the way up but turning into the head wind at the top reminded me where Holme Pierrepoint gets its reputation from. Waves and wind galore meant a tough piece back down but I was proud to a) remain upright and b) finish 8th in the field.

There was time for a porridge refuel before the next three events: skills testing; the maneuverability test; and the 250m sprint time trial. The five skills being tested were 360º boat turn, standing rigger dips, back down stop, roll ups and sequencing – I passed four and got one intermediate. Passing standing rigger dips was a particular highlight of the weekend for me as the pass standard is 50 dips in 30 seconds and I’d only ever managed 48 during practise sessions [ED – she actually did an epic 54 on the day:)].

The manoeuvrability test was a completely new (and pretty bizarre) experience consisting of some 180 spins, backing down as fast as you can and a slalom but it also went pretty well! I was a little nervous about the 250m Sprint as there was a hefty head wind again and a lot of my opponents were very tall and looked powerful. With Phil’s sage advice in mind to ignore the other rowers and leave nothing behind, I set off and promptly let go of one of my blades on the second stroke. Whoops. Nevertheless, the remaining 24-ish strokes went well to place me in the D final for the last event of the day, the 250m side by side racing.

49…50…51… Helen rigger dipping at BRSF2018. Photo: J Turpin.

As impossible as it seemed, the wind had picked up again by the time I went afloat again for the 250m race. It was another rocky start and a tight race to finish 4th with less than 2 seconds separating the first four across the line. I finished the day very happy and very ready for bed.

Helen (lane 4) competing at the BRSF2018, Holme Pierrepoint. Photo: J Turpin.

We were back bright and early the next day for planned 2km racing. Unfortunately, the wind was now at 19mph so the racing was shortened to 500m in the interests of safety. This was definitely the first time I’ve ever been disappointed to hear I didn’t have to do a 2k. The heat was another tight race, and although I felt I had learnt from the day before and raced better than I had, I was a little gutted to miss out on the C final by 0.2 seconds.

It felt like a quick turn around coming off the water after the heat and boating again for the final. I had my strategy in mind (“GO HARD!”), executed my start well and was up in third off the start of the race. A good power ten at halfway meant I moved up into second place and I maintained that position through the rest of the race pushing off the field behind me and went through the line a solid five seconds faster than I had in the heat. It was a fab way to end the weekend.

I had a really brilliant time and felt the good vibes and support sent from YCRC. Next year’s mission is to get a whole flotilla of YCRC singles competing at the festival… I don’t think it will take much convincing!

Peace and pout.


Helen & Boris home safe after BRSF18! Photo: J Turpin.