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National Schools Regatta

Rowing has featured in the calendar as our crews headed for the National Schools Regatta. Mr Murison writes about the main events and the outcomes for our website.

“The National Schools Regatta is the main national event for Junior Rowing for all age groups other than Sixth Form, where Henley Royal Regatta is the pinnacle. Held over three days, it is a demanding event with crews racing up to three flat-out races, mainly over 2 km.

Friday was the day for Year 9 and 10 crews over the shorter course of 1000m. We had high hopes with both boys’ crews already having won medals at major events this summer.

In the time trials the Year 10 Girls’ crew, who have been making good progress recently and been training well, had a huge challenge to progress beyond this first test. They needed to qualify in the top 12, out of 69 crews. Sadly they came 13th, 0.17 secs off 12th. If this seems close, less than 3 seconds faster placed them 5th. The whole race is just under 4 minutes for 1000m, and having to be in the top 17%, with less than 3 seconds separating 9 crews, and human error on timing, must be at least 0.2 seconds, it was a frustrating result. However, the girls must be congratulated on considerably closing the gap on the top crews.

The Year 10 Boys’ crews, had a slightly easier task with only 55 entries in their category, and they progressed through to the next stage. They qualified slowest for their final but put in a great race, overhauling Molesey Boat Club to come in 5th. Although this is the National Schools Regatta, it is open to all junior clubs and it may be of interest to readers that of the 6 crews in their final only one other boat was a school crew. They are to be congratulated on the great race they ran, every event adds expertise to the crew.

Our Year 9 Girls’ crew had a change of student due to illness, which did not help their chances: though they looked good and stayed together well, they finished outside the top dozen. However, they are to be congratulated on beating so many other crews.

The Year 9 Boys’ crew were in high spirits and excited to be racing on this national stage. Sadly, 20m after the start of their time trial they caught a boat stopping crab and lost an oar in the process. This was the end of their campaign and a huge disappointment to all of them. As I said in the debriefing later, if you are competing on your limits, which you must do to stand a chance of success, accidents will occasionally happen as they did to the Dutch Quad at the Tokyo Olympics.


The races took place over the full 2000m, with crews needing to race three times to qualify for the medals’ race. Our Year 10 Boys Eight was up first and had a tough line up to progress. Sdaly, they did not make the top twelve but were upbeat that they came in ahead of a number of major schools, including Shrewsbury, Shiplake and Pangbourne.

Our Sixth Form Quads both raced well. The girls had to perform without Erin Huddleston, (their stroke), but had a good race in the C final, coming second, comfortably ahead of third.: well done to them.

The Sixth Form Boys successfully progressed to the semis, but in the B-final the three races took a toll on some of their fitness levels.

The Year 11 Boys’ crew, winners of the Junior Inter Regionals, were hoping for good things. In the time trial they put in a strong performance, delighted to come in 3rd behind the Scottish, and Hinksey Sculling Club, but some four seconds ahead of the fourth crew Hampton School. I had observed the Hampton Head coach taking our time, and as we had won our last encounter, I did some checking to find that this was indeed their top boat for this age category.

In the semis, the boys took an early lead, as they have done before, but Hinksey had a strong rhythm and gradually overhauled the GMS crew; Kings Chester put up a pretty good challenge and pushed the boys, they did secure a seeded lane in the final: well done to them.

In the final, Walton and Hampton both flew out of the starting gate, and the boys found themselves in the unusual position of being third at 500m gone. Aberdeen and then Hinksey rowed through them as expected, so coming into 1000m GMS were in 5th place, nearly a length down on Hampton. This was maintained through to 1500m. Sal Dunn at stroke led the boys to up their stroke rate, meaning they put in an enormous effort in the final 500m. The gap between third and fifth grew smaller and smaller, the screaming crowds could not tell who would make it. In the last 10 strokes, it was bow ball to bow ball. 0.17 seconds (again) was the difference between Bronze medal and 5th. Sadly, for the GMS crew they were 5th. A very valiant race and a one to be proud of.


The last day of the regatta and GMSBC had their hopes pinned on Henry Gavin and Hugo Loretto in the Championship Pairs event. It was a long day with a 7:00 am arrival, ahead of their time trial, with their Final scheduled at 4:06 pm.

Yet again, there was a strong crew from Hinksey who looked likely to cause problems and were a few seconds quicker in the time trial.

In the final, GMS went off at a high stroke rate and quickly established a length lead on the main contender Hinksey. As expected the very powerful Hinksey crew came back and by halfway had reversed the positions, placing GMS second. From here on in the boys rowed well and while outmatched by the Gold Medallists, were never in threat from the rest of the field, thus securing us our first NSR Championship medal for a number of years; fantastic result.

As always some highs and lows. Some very notable successes and some deep frustrations. Four national medals so far this summer is a great season by any measure.”

Thank you Mr Murison for this account of a fabulous time at the rowing races. Well done to everyone – every race is a win for GMS because our rowers are participating and that keeps our school on the rowing map.

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