Students unite for national indoor rowing competition

The 2023 University Indoor and Adaptive Rowing Series saw nearly a thousand students from universities around the country compete at 10 venues


A women's race in Birmingham (Photo: James Wilton)

The University Indoor and Adaptive Rowing Series (UIARS), which takes place every November, engages both new and existing rowers, drawn from university boat clubs as well as the gym community. In this its 10th year, 10 different universities hosted competitions across a 16-day period, enabling each one to stage the racing on a day that worked best for their facilities and other activities.

With 1k events for beginners and adaptive rowers as well as Championship categories at openweight and lightweight over the classic 2k distance, plus team awards for clubs doing well across the categories, the UIARS has something for everyone. This range of events – and the opportunity to win BUCS points – has made the UIARS very popular. In all, 967 students – including 482 beginners  – from 40 academic institutions competed this year.

Students with medals in gym Students from Portsmouth, Solent, Southampton and Essex Universities competed in Portsmouth. (Photo: Jodie Davis)

GB Rowing Team members and hopefuls were prominent in the Openweight and Women’s lightweight Championship categories, where their recent trials scores could be submitted. Previous GB Under-19 international Josh Matthews from Edinburgh pulled an impressive 5:58.8 to top the Championship Openweight Men – a step up from his third place finish last year. Trialist George Reed from Durham finished second in 6:02.3 with non-trialist Josh Knight of Liverpool and trialist Ben Edmondson of Warwick tying for third with 6:05.3.

Student indoor rowing competition Competitive racing in Edinburgh. (Photo: Michael Hughes)

All three of the top Championship Openweight Women were trialists; Kathryn Mole of Birmingham won in 6:49.6, Poppy Baker of Nottingham finished second, a second down on her in 6:50.6, and GB Under 23 international Molly Curry of Queen’s Belfast was third in 7:01.1.

Olivia Bates of Nottingham, bronze medalist at the 2023 World Cup III regatta in the Lightweight women’s single scull, was – unsurprisingly – the runaway winner of the Championship Lightweight Women’s event, finishing in 7:12.1, over 12 seconds ahead of Alyssa Basinger of Warwick (7:24.2) with Leonie Kennedy third in 7:34.0 for Surrey.

The Championship Lightweight Men’s category – where there is no GB squad –  saw Ciaran Purdy of Queen’s win by an equally impressive margin, finishing in 6:20.0 ahgead of Ollie Hanks of Derby (6:30.1) and Alexander Dixon from Edinburgh (6:33.6).

Indoor rowing medalists Happy medalists at the Leicester competition (Photo: Erin Flood)

Costa Galatalis of UWE won the hotly-contested Beginner Men’s event in 2:54.3 ahead of Victor Jacoby of Surrey who finished in 2:55.9, just ahead of his clubmate Jude Reynolds who pulled 02:56.1.

The Beginner Women’s race was similarly closely fought; Katie Robertson won for Edinburgh in 3:25.3 with Skye Pirie of Birmingham second in 3:27.3 and Anna Barnett of Bath third in 3:28.8.

Ilja Vencjuns of Warwick won the Adaptive Men’s competition in 3:34.0 from James Burrows of East Anglia, who clocked 3:53.9.

The top three in each category will be given entries to the British Rowing Indoor Championships on Saturday, 9 December 2023.

Full results

Luke Gallen, Event Manager at BUCS, said, “We’ve loved watching the performances of university athletes at our Indoor Rowing series over the last few weeks. An impressive 10 universities played host to these championships, featuring all the home nations. Indoor rowing provides a great first step into the sport, and remains an accessible option for all students with gym access. We look forward to seeing many of these athletes go on to compete at our rowing events over the course of the year.”

Fiona Rennie, Chair of the Event Management Group for Rowing at BUCS, said, “Huge thanks to all who have organised, supported and competed in the UIARS. There is no doubt that empowering University Rowing clubs to host events within their local environment united by a common script brings a lot of enjoyment to a wide audience of students and local supporters – and helps to promote rowing and rowing clubs. The smiles in the photos are testament to that and the additional events such as relays and sprints bring added excitement and have encouraged that team spirit.”