The Isis and Godstow have both been off limits since early in Michaelmas due to high water levels and debris, meaning that some boats were unable to get onto the water at all last term.
Kieran Hyatt, Men’s Captain of Keble Rowing expressed dismay at his club’s inability to keep novices, and even returning rowers, interested in training: “Land training is something that most people see as a price you have to pay for water time, but given current conditions, it’s hard to motivate rowers to continue paying that price without water time.”
This point was reiterated by Russell Whitehouse, the Men’s Vice Captain of Queen’s Rowing Club, who commented: “The situation isn’t ideal. It makes it very difficult getting freshers and newcomers into the swing of the boat club when we can’t guarantee water time and are left at the mercy of the flag.”
He went on to express concerns that lack of fresher interest might leave the boat club “’up the creek without a paddle’ in future years.”
In response to this struggle a number of boat clubs have resorted to more expensive training methods such as rowing sessions at Eton Dorney and tank sessions in Iffley. The expense associated with these practice techniques has led to some boat clubs spending hundreds of pounds more than they normally would.
The money, which might normally spent be on upgrades to the boats and boathouses, is acting as a significant drain on many boat clubs’ finances.
Other concerns have been raised about the effect that the lack of water time will have on the quality of rowing meets. Kieran Hyatt said: “If current conditions persist, the level of competition at Summer Eights and Torpids will be extremely poor compared to previous years.”
PHOTO/ Bill Boaden