Tides turned on UBC rowers as Victoria claims Brown Cup sweep

In the 26th instalment of the Brown Cup, the UBC Thunderbirds and the University of Victoria Vikes battled it out along the Fraser River on Saturday morning. Though UBC has defeated UVic on multiple occasions this season, the Vikes would come out on top for this one.

It would be the first time since the reserve races were added to the event in 2011 that either team has claimed titles across the board.

With wins in both the reserve varsity races to start the event, UVic had team momentum on their side going into the coveted varsity races.

In the varsity women’s eight race, UVic took an early lead and crossed the finish line well ahead of UBC, claiming their sixth Brown Cup in eight years.

UVic celebrates their women's eight win with a quick dip in the Fraser.
UVic celebrates their women's eight win with a quick dip in the Fraser. Patrick Gillin

The varsity men’s eight had a much more tumultuous race, with a restart forced at the halfway point of the course after a collision and ensuing damage to the Vikes boat. After a lengthy regroup on the water, it was decided that the race would continue from the collision site, giving UBC just half a course to make up the seat-length lead UVic already had.

“We know this is a really challenging course for [coxswain] and umpires alike, there’s a lot of turns, a lot of ridges that the athletes have to compete with and deal with … and sometimes the calls are kind of out of our control," fourth-year veteran Harris Sheldon said post-race of the restart call. "We can do our best, but it really does come down to what the umpires decide and unfortunately today we think that it was a call that really impacted us negatively.”

The Thunderbird varsity men's crew heads back to the boathouse post-race.
The Thunderbird varsity men's crew heads back to the boathouse post-race. Patrick Gillin

The deficit would be too much for UBC to overcome, as the Vikes pulled away to a full boat’s length lead and cruised to UVic’s fourth win of the day, sweeping the event.

“When you are moving through an opponent like we were doing at the time, and to get it called off. Thirty-minute wait in the pouring rain, freezing wind, and to restart like that, losing all your momentum, it’s pretty tough. It’s really tough to collect yourselves after that,” Sheldon said.

“Then after that, the course, it really has a big advantage to their side of the river as well, whereas the first half has an advantage to our side, so the rest of the race was all them and the cards were kind of stacked against us.”

UBC's crew debriefs after their race.
UBC's crew debriefs after their race. Patrick Gillin

For the Vikes, it would be their last event of the year — and they head out on a high. For UBC, they have one more regatta left on the schedule in May: the 32nd Annual Windermere Cup for the men’s side.