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National Schools Regatta

National Schools Regatta

FIVE  crews made the finals in the National School Regatta at Dorney: a hugely impressive outcome in an event that attracts interest from both school and non-school crews.

All our rowing students performed in a way that makes GMS, their boat club and their coaches very proud: well done to them all.

The event began on Friday when conditions looked to be set as ‘fair with a brisk tail breeze and sunny weather’.

Two Quads and a Four were set to race: this was the first year that Friday’s races were held over the full 2000m Olympic course. In previous years Year 9 and 10 races had been over 1000m.

The Year 10 girls had a solid race in the time trials but, given they had not had much time out on the water this term, they did not have the pace to proceed to the finals. The Year 10 Boys’ Four of Ben Woods, Mackensie Jameson, Aiden Strain, and Lucas Hastings, coxed by Hugo Salinas, had a good time trial, progressing to the C final.

The highlight of the day was the Year 9 Boys’ Quad of Tom Wiles Oliver Johnson, Louis Davies and Noah Guttrupp, coxed by Sam Chaplin. The boys came 10th in the time trial putting them in the B final. In their final they raced aggressively and had an exhilarating race, coming third just behind two club (non-school) crews.

Saturday saw another day of favourable conditions, with the Year 10 Boy’s Eight off first with a time trial at 8:00 am. This Eight is a very strong Great Marlow crew, who have won at a number of regattas already this term. However, they were in an extremely competitive event and needed to make the top twelve to progress to the finals. Despite posting a time of 6:15 for 1900m in the time trial (for reference the GMS crew that won Gold for Year 11s three years ago, won in 6:32 over 2000m) the Eight came 15th overall. This was a great performance but still disappointing for the crew. The 6th Form Boys’ Quad also just missed out in Championship Quads, coming 13th, 0.25 seconds off making the semi-finals. The J18 Girls’ Double also missed out on progressing from the time trials.

The Year 11 Boys’ Four had a good time trial, coming 11th, and progressed to the B final. They were drawn in an outside lane, being one of the slower qualifiers, but in the final had a great race with Norwich school next to them in lane 6. They just lost by ½ a length to Norwich, but came 4th overall, well ahead of the last two in the final.

Finally, the Year 11 Girls’ Eight, who have trained very well this season and benefit from a strong deep squad had their hearts set on making the A final, which meant coming in the top 6 in the time trial. Three of the crews they had already raced over this course at Wallingford Regatta, where they had been beaten by half a length by the nearest of these crews. An aggressive race in the time trial saw them in sixth place and through to the A final with hopes of a race for medals.

In the final, the girls were giving away around 15kgs per rower to their competition. They raced hard but were out gunned and their 6th place overall was a great achievement for them.

Sunday the weather turned less favourable and with a strong crosswind lanes conditions were less fair to the rowers.

Our two Girls’ Quads raced early in time trials, the Year 11s very narrowly missed out on the semi-finals, coming 13th in the race. Our top Boys’ Double of Blaise Ivers-Dreux and Robert Petrea rowed in their time trial to put them through to the semi-finals, but with a marginal qualifying time they were out in the unfavoured lanes meaning  steering was very tricky. They progressed to the B final where they came fourth. This was, however, the fastest school crew in the event so a very impressive result.

For regular readers, you will be aware that in the past we have normally won a medal or two at these National Championships, and while we always aim very high, the level of competition and the numbers of athletes has progressed enormously in the last few years. The tents and marquees of supporting clubs stretch over one kilometre down the banks of the lake and it is common now for events to have over 40 to 50 top class crews competing at the time trial. While we will always aim for National Medals, 5 crews making finals, at this level of competition was a strong result.

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