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32 Crews, 14 Finals, 7 Medals: Magnificent

32 Crews, 14 Finals, 7 Medals: Magnificent

The Marlow Town Regatta, an important event in the calendar, is an annual highlight for rowers, parents, carers and coaches because competitors are performing in front of a home crowd. Great Marlow crews started the day early with nine of our crews racing in the first nine races. By 9.00 GMS had won the first medal of the day; the Year 8 Girls’ Coxed Quad stormed home to a comfortable win in the final.

In total there were 32 crews racing, our largest entry to date, with 14 crews racing in finals. In the first wave, as well as the Year 8 girls, we had a win in Year 11 Boys’ Double Scull with Cathan M-T and Joel Hammond, who defeated, amongst others, the Borlase crew in the heat and an RGS crew in the final, winning both races comfortably. The  Senior Girls Eight met Bedford Girls school in their final: at halfway, they were losing by three quarters of a length. A change of gear from Devon De Winnaar at stroke, saw the Eight start to edge its way back, little by little. By the trailer park, the crews were level and coming into the enclosure, with a huge roar of local support, the Eight pulled into the lead to win by ¾ a length.

In wave two the Year 11 Girls’ Eight were drawn against another Bedford Girls crew, and an aggressive race saw them  take a good lead of just over one length in the second half of the race. This was our only win in this wave, although we had had high hopes for the top Girls’ Quad, in a straight final against Borlase. Sadly the Borlase crew withdrew, leaving our girls with no opposition and hence no medal. The reason given was they wanted to concentrate on just the one race, “The Marlow Schools’ Challenge” which GMS had won rather easily the previous year.

At 2:30 the two local schools Girls’ Eights lined up for the second year in this challenge event. The GMS crew had all already raced at least once and, for some, it was the third race of the day. The Borlase girls were fresh. Borlase took an early lead, and by the church were leading by over half a length. GMS had the Buckingham station, which meant the outside of the bend over the last half of the race and a half length disadvantage as a result. The odds did not look good. Yet again, our girls turned up the heat, and despite their station on the outside, started the fight back. Spectators in the enclosure were roused from their champagne tents as the volume of cheers and encouragement for both crews grew and grew. By the trailer park GMS had fought back to less than ¼ length down and were clearly closing with every stroke. As both crews stormed through the enclosures and the cheering came to a crescendo, the only question was could the Borlase girls hold off the GMS charge for long enough. As the crews crossed the line, the cheers faded to a hush. None of the spectators or competitors knew. For a very long 60 seconds there was hush, “ The result of the Schools Challenge Eights is a win , by 2 feet,  to….. Sir William Borlase School”. It had been a great race and both crews had fought hard. The memories of last year’s easily verdict avenged by the Borlase girls.

In the boys’ race an hour later, it was not as nail biting but resulted in a win to Borlase by ¾ length. These two races were a little saddening on an otherwise spectacular day of racing.

In the last wave there were a number of strong crews lining up to add to the medal tally. The Year 9 Boys’ Doubles looked hopeful, and in the final, Noah Grottup and Sam Chaplin raced in almost certainly the closest final of the day. They came third by a few feet from first and second who were declared a dead heat, meaning those two had to go and race again. In the year 11 girls single sculls, Anna Bradley put in a good race to get through to the final but met her match in an old adversary, giving away many inches in reach. The Boys’ Octo, having missed out in the doubles and quad, were keen for a medal and set off at a blistering rate to take an early lead on Marlow Rowing Club. In Octo racing at this level, anything can happen and staying out of trouble was key, but as they came into the enclosures, GMS lead by clear water and their technique held through the last 100m to win gold.

Then came the Year 10 Boys’ Eight who have won at a number of regattas this term. Their final was against Radley College, a strong independent rowing school. With a home crowd demanding top performance, the boys were holding nothing back on the start and by halfway they were already looking good for the win. Over the second half of the course the eight opened up to a clear water lead over Radley and the win was never in doubt. Last, but far from least, came the senior boys quad sculls. The final was between GMS, Sir William Borlase and Marlow Rowing club. While the Eights Race earlier was supposedly for the honour of the best school, these quads are the crews that will race at Henley Royal Regatta, so very important. GMS set off at an aggressive pace and took an early advantage, which they built on steadily throughout the race. The result was never in doubt and the three length verdict made some recompense for the earlier result.

32 crews, 14 finals, 7 medals with every year group having a medalist amongst their ranks, a good day at the races.

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