A Portrait of the Rower as a young Novice

Starting rowing as a novice at University is a unique and wonderful experience, and one that we at GUBC are keen to provide. Enthusiastic members that turn up not knowing their arse from their bow ball are quick to become an important and intrinsic feature of any Boat Club; Glasgow University is no exception.

Two of our Novices, Tom and Stephanie were very kind to adhere to my pleas for Novices to write a bit of a blog about their experiences. Below are the first instalments of GUBC’s Novice Blog, ENJOY!


I was not new to sports coming into my third year of university. I was competing in triathlons and Gaelic Football for as long as I can remember and had even dabbled in a few of the University’s club sports. However it took until my third year to find a university club sport that actually suited me: boat club.

I had been talked into the boat club by friends and bar an uneducated viewing of the Olympics, I pretty much couldn’t tell the difference between a scull and a cox. However I gave it a go and went down to the taster session. This interest went further and I hit up the training with the Novice men. Fair to say there was a massive range of guys at that session; ones who must have been born in a weight room and ones who looked like a light breeze would send them flying. However we were all in the same boat and this was a new kind of training for us all.

The training sessions were intense starting with squats and lunges and ending in hill sprints in Kelvingrove Park. However there was a really good attitude in the club. Whether it was the guy who was so powerful two guys had to hold down his Erg machine or the guy who fell behind on the hill sprints; the entire crew would shout support and cheer them on until the finish.
After the first few sessions I was sore in places I didn’t even know I had. But there was a satisfaction in that. Week by week we’d hit up the rowing training room and you’d see the improvement in yourself and those guys you started off with. You really feel as if you train as a team and work together. And it all comes into play when you finally get an oar in your hand and are out on the Clyde rowing. The feeling is as intense as all the training that brought you there was.

Row club not only train hard, but they also work hard. I found this out during the weekly socials which are insanely fun. One week you could go out wearing an Olympics themed vest top and the week after you could be covered in green body paint as a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle. Emma Fleming organises some of the most unique yet amazing socials. Whether it’s dressing up, drinking or just general banter, the boat club does nothing by half measures and the stories you make during these nights will keep you laughing (or cringing) for a long time.
Joining the club is definitely not for the faint of heart, but is possibly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made at University.

Tom Short 


Like many other students at the University, I decided that this year I would try out a club or sport that was new and completely unknown territory to me. Having run for a long time, I was in pursuit of something that involved being in a team and required commitment. Having watched Katherine Grainger claim her Olympic gold medal after three previous attempts, it struck me that rowing was something I would like to try.

I had actually missed the taster session, and was a bit dubious about turning up to training without knowing anybody, but a friend of mine had attended the taster session and assured me that everybody was really friendly and welcoming, so I decided to give it a go.

Despite my slight concerns about having to get up, do land training and row every Saturday and Sunday morning, which for me was usually lie-in time, I am now beginning to appreciate the early weekend starts. The novice girls (all forty or so of us) are really enjoying getting out on the water, which I suppose is why so many of us keep coming back every weekend. Every day has been an education…a point well-proven last weekend when it was revealed to us, after five weeks of rowing, that we weren’t actually all complete naturals when it came to steering the boat, and that it was in fact Calum who was taking us in the right direction. Oops.

I like the structured training regime we have throughout the week as well, and as the weeks go on I’m sure all of the girls in squad will agree that we can feel the difference that the circuits and ergs are making already, so much so that our super keen novice rep feels that it’s her duty to lead group wall-sit sessions in the hive every Thursday, pints of fun in hand. I can’t lie and say that I have absolutely loved every single erg session I have done thus far, because I know I’m not the only one who will say that they have been pretty tough. However, Jess’ sessions have really helped us with our technique, and her amazing banter is almost enough to make ergs… fun?

Now that November is drawing near, we’re really looking forward to competing in our first ever races, and most importantly, to the club dinner! It has to be said that GUBC hold the best socials I have attended throughout my three years here, and I’m sure future endeavours will not disappoint (Though, in the future we will all try to avoid the compulsory penalty squats given out by Calum at the weekend for drunkenly commenting on his sexuality on the Facebook page. Lessons have been learned…)

So far it has been great to get to know so many new and fun people who are at different stages at the University, and I look forward to the many training sessions, races and socials that are yet to come!

Stephanie Tinney