By Ben Lovell-Smith | Sport Editor
Cardiff University’s rowing club is one of the few university sports clubs to have been able to celebrate competitive success from a number of its teams in 2020.
On 21st November the club took part in an inter-university competition which combined the Welsh Rowing Virtual Championships and the Scottish Student Sport Indoor Rowing Championships. This was a competition which allowed competitors to compete under the current coronavirus guidelines, through rowing machines linked up to the internet.
CURC achieved victory in the senior women’s heavyweight and lightweight divisions, as well as in the senior men’s lightweight division. An outstanding success for the club. Of the six novice women who entered from Cardiff, all finished in the top ten.
After all, it has been a long time since any of the club’s teams were able to compete. You can almost hear Club President Morgan Moriarty’s cogs turning as he strains to remember the last proper rowing competition for the club. “I think the last senior men’s event was ‘Head of the Taff’ in January. Whilst the novices got to race at Gloucester in February, joined by the senior women.”
Subsequently, the club was forced to innovate its training. Over the first lockdown and the summer, club members compared their training over strava. Whilst a number of seniors were able to train at their home clubs, not all members had access to such facilities. It is therefore impressive that the club has been able to return to success so quickly.
The club is broken down into five squads. Men and women both have a senior and novice squad each and the fifth squad is made up of the coxes. Moriarty stresses the importance of the cox within the squad, as well as the boat, “the Cox’s role is unique, they can almost become coaches, they steer the boats, carry out the racing plan and make technical pointers. They are crucial.”
However, the most successful squad is the senior women who are among a select few that can claim to have never lost at Welsh varsity. A record that the squad will work tirelessly to maintain.
As president, Moriarty is ambitious, “one of my biggest aspirations as president would be to achieve a varsity grand slam, that’s always on the cards for us but we haven’t had one of those in quite a while.”
If current restrictions continue and the Welsh government still won’t relax the two metre rule for outdoor sport, it is possible that more competitions, including Varsity, may have to be carried out online. “If we had to we could go online, I think that would be a feasible alternative.”
Across the club, the men have taken to growing moustaches for Movember. A charity which aims to raise awareness for men’s health issues. “It’s a nice way to get the men’s squads to bond, and in this way addresses the stigma of mental health directly. With the demands of the sport, it is important that we are as conscious as possible about people who struggle with their mental health.”
As well as raising money for a good cause, Movember is also a reminder to club members that it is important they look after each other. “We worry that people take on too much from rowing or uni or that some people put too much pressure on themselves to do well. We all go through a stressful point at some part of the year, it feels good for the club to acknowledge that it is okay to talk about it.”