University Rower Jess Elkington achieved the fasted U23 Lightweight women's machine rowing time, and has been invited to a training camp at Cavisham.

Rowers power through first GB trials

The University of Exeter’s rowing elite have sailed through the first round of Great Britain trials on 16-17 November.

10 rowers from the University of Exeter Boat Club (EUBC) travelled to the test weekend which doubled up as the British Universities and Colleges Sport Indoor Rowing Series.

Hugh Berry, Alex Davidson, David Rickards, Ben Western, Rhys Westall, Pippa Burnham, Jess Elkington, Charlotte Dexter, Imogen Mackie and Hannah Traylen all made the cut, which was the first step on the pathway to be selected for the Team GB rowing squad.

Taking place over the whole weekend, the trials welcomed entrants from across the country to take part in a 2000 metre machine row, before a 5000 metre test out on the water the following day.

Jess Elkington gained the fastest machine time for an U23 Lightweight Woman, powering her way to 2000m in an astonishing 7:11 minutes. The European Universities gold medallist’s prowess has led her to be invited to a closed group training camp at Cavisham 21-22 December.

Also amongst the other successful candidates were second year students Rhys Westall (Business Economics) and David Rickards (Archaeology) who only began their rowing careers 14 months ago.

Rhys commented: “I started rowing last September because I wanted a new challenge. In the space of a year everything has gone so quickly and the Boat Club has encouraged me throughout my year of rowing.

“When I got through it was an amazing feeling, all the hard work so far had paid off, so it also really encouraged me to keep pushing myself to my physical limits within the sport.

“The Boat Club is really going places at the moment, you can really feel that as a Club we are going to keep doing well. We have a great atmosphere and a real drive to make this season a big success.”

These initial trials are the first of three stages on the pathway to selection for the internationally renowned GB rowing squad, the next step taking place in January. Director of Rowing Richard Tinkler was delighted with the club’s performance. He added:

“I am really happy with how the Club is progressing. Throughout the squad as a whole we have now had the time to settle into the systems that we started putting in place 3-4 years ago, and this first term has gone better than any of my previous seasons.

“Each term we continue to grow and develop and we are constantly looking at new ways to train more efficiently as a club. This is an early stage, but shows that the programme is working. If we can get anyone through as an international representative that would be incredible.”

Off the water the rowers have also achieved great success raising over £4,500 for the Club and 'Movember' charity on 22 November by rowing over 1,000,000 meters in one day, using rowing machines set up in the Forum building on Campus.

Club Captain George Butcher said: “It was a brilliant fundraiser and the whole club got involved to do their bit. In the end we smashed our target, pushing on to 1.3million meters. Part of the money is going straight to the Movember charity, with some also going towards the acquisition of six new rowing machines we are getting in January.”

The University rowing season kicks off fully at the end of January with the Quintin Head at the end of January, before the BUCS 4s and 8s Head on 24 February. Last year the University of Exeter enjoyed a highly successful season, finishing sixth in the country, picking up gold’s at the BUCS Head, Regatta and the European Universities Championships.

Richard finished: “So far all the signs are looking very positive. We have some very talented rowers on our books at the moment and next term we are looking at integrating some of our beginners into the senior team earlier than we thought possible before.  It would be brilliant to step a little further following our incredible season last year.

“What is important is that we continue to cater for everyone and these results show that whether students have rowed before University or not, we can still help them to achieve their goals.”

Date: 16 December 2013