Ten women from the University of Cambridge travelled to Xi’an in China last week to compete in the 2019 World Rowing University Regatta.
The crew was composed of rowers from across the university; Boat Race veterans, development squad members and college rowers.
We were joined by other university crews from the UK, as well as Germany, Switzerland, the United States, the Netherlands, Russia and China. The race format was a little unusual by UK standards. Over an 800m course with four lanes, we raced five times over three days to come fourth overall. The regatta began with a time trial, followed by two heats, a semi final and final. Hot and humid weather made racing conditions challenging with temperatures reaching at least 36 degrees every day. However, the regatta organisers went to great lengths to help with this – providing air conditioned transport, tents, plenty of water, and a lovely hotel – for which we are very grateful!
The trip also provided a great opportunity to explore Xi’an city. The Terracotta Warriors, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Great Xi’an Mosque and old city wall were a few highlights. Coincidentally, these last two sites were constructed in the same century that the University of Cambridge was founded and the first two are far more ancient. Chinese culture also gave us a novel gastronomic experience (deep fried chicken giblets anyone?), lessons in negotiating small spaces with thousands of people, and busy roads with no apparent traffic rules.
The 2019 World Rowing IURR Cambridge Women’s Crew:
Vera Kunz (Gonville and Caius) (spare), Liz Gaberdiel (St John’s) (cox), Pippa Whittaker (Christ’s) (stroke), Anouschka Fenley (Lucy Cavendish), Alice White (Homerton), Elena Williams (Gonville and Caius), Jessie Smith (Gonville and Caius), Nirupa Desai (Gonville and Caius), Kate McDaid (Gonville and Caius), Maria Stroyakovski (Gonville and Caius) (bow)
We heard from Pippa Whittaker about the trip,
I had a great trip! China exceeded my expectations! Our wonderful hosts put so much thought and effort into the event, we felt like celebrities walking around and posing for photos.
Xi’an is probably the friendliest place in the world too, I don’t think we managed a meal out of the hotel without receiving a gift! My highlight was probably going for a jog around the old city wall with Alice and getting roped in to joining in with Tai Chi and table tennis with the locals. Really glad they weren’t the sports we were invited for though, as we got a lot of laughter for our efforts.
Only learnt two Chinese words in the entire week (languages aren’t my thing) but would like to say “Xièxiè” – Thank you to the organisers of the event for a fantastic experience!