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First Public Regatta of 2021

May Bank Holiday weekend saw the first public regatta for two years for the GMSBC squad. This was not just any regatta, it is the biggest one in the Junior rowing calendar, with all the top crews in the country competing. On Saturday and Sunday the National Schools Regatta took place; on Monday the National Junior Sculling Regetta: all races took place at the Olympic course at Dorney Lake.

Great Marlow had crews racing on all three days, with all of them making an A or B final (top 12 in the country). On Monday, the sculling regatta was targeted at Year 10s and 11s, whereas Saturday and Sunday the Year 11 to 13 competed in the one oar rowing events.

All events had time trials to qualify for the finals. The Year 11 Boys Double of Louis Davies and Noah Grottrup had to come in the top half of their time trial of 23 crews to qualify for the top two finals. For the Year 10 Boys’ Quad it was a little stiffer with an entry of 35 crews.

Magnificently, both crews rose to the occasion and made it comfortably into the B finals. The Year 11s had a good race to halfway mark at 1000m and were right in amongst the field with a couple of boats already off the pace. But, over the second half, they suffered a little from lack of time on the water recently as this year’s exam schedule has meant a lot more disruption to training than in normal years.

The Year 10 boys, Will Clayton, Sal Dunn, Joe Cogan, Owain Meredith, coxed by Hannah Angelides, were in one of the middle lanes for their final next to Kings College School Wimbledon. The rest of the start line was made up of club crews, including Molesey, Aberdeen Rowing Association, and local rivals Marlow. The boys had a great race, with no open water between the first four boats for most of the race. The strong cross-head counted against them in the end, so they came in fourth, but well ahead of the MRC crew.

You may have been wondering what has happened to our Year 10 girls’ squad. From the small group of dedicated Year 11 girls, we decided to put an Eight together to compete in Girls’ J16 (Year 11) Championship Eights. Again, organising to have the whole crew out on the water, as often as we would like proved harder than usual, but they came together well in the last couple of sessions before the race. Despite the Year 10 girls being a strong cohort, racing up a year, especially given the disruptions in training they have all had this year, this was a significant challenge.

As always, they had a time trial to start with, in which they comfortably qualified in the middle of the B final.  In the final, they were lined up between Enniskillen, Ireland on one side and Godolphin and Latymer on the other. At the first marker (500m), Northwich had taken a half-length lead, but under a second separated 2nd from 5th, with GMS in 4th. By halfway, Northwich, had increased their lead to a length over Aberdeen Rowing Association, but less than half a length separated 2nd from 5th, with Godolphin having dropped its pace.

As the top crew continued to inch away, the main race remained a tight battle between the four crews. The GMS girls did step their pace to race amazingly well, but with six girls from Year 10 in the boat they could not quite hold on to be in the sprint for the final line. This group of four finished, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, GMS. Congratulations to Ocean Dove, Robyn Pendlebury,  Amelia Eldridge, Emily Downing, Christina Baxter, Milly Hopkins, Peyton Nugent, Erin Huddleston, and Olivia Fyfe.

Leaving the best for last, we had all our top crews racing on Saturday in the Championship Fours events. Our Coxed Four, which has been showing great form in training, were slightly disappointed to come 7th in the time trial, just missing the A final, still an impressive result for Molly Felix-Andrews (cox), Leo Simpson, Tom Wiles, Mackensie Jameson and Aidan Kelly. The Coxless Boys’ Four of Hugo Loretto, Joel Hammond, James Robson and Henry Gavin had a very solid qualifying round to gain a slot in the A final and were drawn next to Radley in the final. However, the boys had a poor start and Radley had clear water at 500m. From here on the race split into two groups: the centre lanes out in front, with GMS in lane 3, (Emmanuel were in lane 7 and Hampton in lane 8). Finding themselves placed on their own, with their closest rivals next to each other on the other side of the lake, hindered the progress of the boys. At the 1000m mark GMS were in 6th position and stayed there at 1500m. The crew excelled by putting in a blistering last 500m, recording second in time only to the winners, to overhaul Hampton and come 5th: a great result.

The Girls’ Coxless Four, who have trained religiously all season, knew they had a tough challenge. A light headwind did them no favours for this exceptionally light crew. Having said this, they are born racers and as a competitive a bunch of rowers as any coach could ask for. In an aggressive time trial, they came fourth, meaning Anna Bradley, Natasha Stewart, Ruth Rackstraw and Hannah Clayton lined up for the A final with Trentham on one side and Shrewsbury on the other. The raw power in the three crews, who had beaten them in the time trial saw all of them pull away sprightly in the first 500m, meaning a chance for medals looked slim. The girls raced hard all the way, over rating the entire field by moving steadily away from the trailing two crews; sadly, they could not make an impact on the leading three. As frustrating as fourth can be, the crew should be very proud of their race and all that it took to get there.

Congratulations to all. Thank you to the coaches and all the rowing fraternity for their enthusiasm and support of all our GMS students, who profit from having a strong rowing club in the school. Lastly, thank you to Mr Murison who wrote this splendid report for the website.

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