An invitation was extended to SUBC by the Xinjin Municipal Government of Chengdu to attend the 8th Xinjin International Universities Rowing Regatta during July and early August 2017.
A men's eight comprising of rowers from St Andrews, St Johns, St Pauls and Wesley colleges and a women's four from Wesley College along with coaches Charly Iron (M8+) and Gillian Campbell (W4-) and team manager Alan Bennett represented the University.
The tour was fully funded and managed by the Xinjin local government and Mr Li from SunFun Sports and Cultural Development Co Ltd.
The team departed Sydney on Wednesday 26th but unfortunately missed their connection in Shanghai due to a late departure. However, an overnight stay and flight the following morning saw them arrive fresh that afternoon.
Each team was allocated their own bus and translators (along with plain clothes police presence), which all departed the following morning to the regatta site to find their boats and oars and start the process of setting up before hitting the water.
The course had 4 buoyed lanes over 800m on a river with navigable length of approximately 1000m, so there was not much room for eleven M8+ and eight W4- to practice on.
Each team finished their morning session and returned to the hotel for lunch with a view to having a second session that afternoon to fine tune things before racing commenced the following day.
However, the waters from the overnight storm had been released and this torrent washed away the buoy lines and littered the course with washed away trees and islands of weeds. The BROs worked closely with the regatta team that afternoon and early the next morning to remove the debris from the course but were unable to reinstate the buoy lines for racing.
This did mean that the adjustments to the rigging which was identified in the first row were not able to be tried out before racing.
The draw had been conducted at the team managers meeting on the first evening, with progression and the overall winner being based on the combination of times from heats and finals. The fastest four heat times went into Final A, the next four into Final B and so on. The W4- had not spent much time in the boat due to the individuals being unavailable and this lack of combination was highlighted in racing, especially without buoy lines to follow.
The crew was drawn in Ht2, L1 against Cambridge, Chengdu and another Chinese university finished 3rd, posting the 6th fastest time placing them in FB, L3. In this final they finished 2nd, with the combined times giving them an overall placing of 6th in this event.
The M8+ had managed to put some good training sessions in over a four week period of time which showed in their combination, but with less than an hour between heat and final their lack of time in the boat compared to the other crews showed.
Being drawn in Ht1, L2 against MUBC, Chengdu and another Chinese university, they finished 3rd, posting the 6th fasted time which placed them in FB, L3. Here, they finished 3rd again, with their combined time placing them 7th overall.
At conclusion of racing there was a water display in jet skis and jet packs prior to the prize giving.
This was followed by the traditional " duck chasing" where ducks are released from an officials boat into the water and the locals who are in dragon boats, race in to the area with one or two of the paddlers diving into the water to catch and claim the duck as their prize.
The afternoon continued with a visit to a local primary school for all teams with an Education Forum where we were all seated in a quadrangle for a number of short talks from influential people. The theme was "Happiness in Persistence" addressing the benefits of a balanced study: training lifestyle and how this can lead to achievement at a higher level in a number of areas.
From here we walked across to another quadrangle to watch and get involved in some cultural activities such as traditional dancing, calligraphy, tie dye printing and the playing of instruments to name a few.
The cultural experience culminated with the Prize giving dinner which started with the giving and receiving of gifts, as part of the "Sharing and Gain" for the International Youth Fraternity before moving onto performances from Chinese dragons and mask dancing.Chengdu is renowned for its Sichuan Cuisine and the favourite dishes were served for the banquet after these performances.
Then it was crunch time when each team had to give their performance. Some of these had been planned and some were a bit more ad hoc. Our performer was George Bundock playing his bagpipes. Unbeknown to others, the performer from Oxford University also had his pipes with him and this ended up with a "pipe off" between the two, with of course, George coming out on top. By about now, the evening was finally coming to an end after a long busy day.
The next day was Dragon Boat racing. Mixed teams were formed to go and race in "The 3rd Chinese and Foreign Youth Dragon Boat Friendly Match". A familiarisation row was followed by heat and then final which was won by the all Chinese crews
The afternoon started with a visit to the "International Universities Rowing Race Pavilion" which is a museum of this event featuring much memorabilia and photos of the first race in 2009 which SUBC had been invited to. From here we visited the nearby "Hua Ren Jian Park" which had an amazing display of flowers in a warehouse size greenhouse as well as a pond with pedal boats.
The last day was again filled with activities such as a visit to see the pandas, followed by a sensational lunch, a visit to Chengdu museum and shopping before returning to the hotel to collapse.
Finally it was time to leave with an early departure from the hotel at 0530hrs, a 7hr lay over in Hangzhou before the final leg back to Sydney. Overall the event was a great success for the organisers and also for SUBC, with everyone having a memorable time and also performing to the best of their ability.
Thanks must go to the Xinjin Municipal Government of Chengdu and Mr Li, along with Glen Sinclair from Otago University who is a major player in organising these events and was instrumental in inviting SUBC to attend this event.
M8+ : Nick Jackman( St Andrews) Gus Robinson (St Andrews). Jackson Garrels (St Pauls), Maxwell Glanville, Harry Tuit (St Pauls), George Bundock ( Wesley) , Alistair Northam (Wesley), Andrew Cameron (Wesley), Dom Tynan ( St Johns). Res : Matt Hinds ( Wesley)
W4- : Saskia Hartog (Wesley), Georgia Campbell (Wesley), Amelia Hellicar-Foster ( Wesley), Florence Potter ( Wesley), Res: Fanqiu Cui