The crew moved into accommodation in Stoke Row just outside Henley on Friday the 27th June in order to get some time out on the course. The crew settled in quickly to the fantastic host accommodation and ate extremely well with delicious food on offer from the local pub ‘The Crooked Billet’ who kindly provided wonderful dinners for the boys.
On Saturday the crew attended the draw at the Henley Town Hall to find out who their first opponents would be on the Wednesday. Over the next few days the boys developed a healthy routine of eating, sleeping, relaxing and training to ensure they were ready for some tough racing.
On the Tuesday evening before racing commenced the boys were delighted and privileged to be visited by Sir Steve Redgrave at the kind arrangement of our host family. Steve spent close to two hours sharing some of his experiences and wisdom with the boys. He will be taking on the role as Chairman of the Regatta from 2015.
On Wednesday morning the crew went for an early pre-race paddle in order to settle their nerves and check over the equipment. After a light breakfast and final preparations they took to the water against Bedford Modern School in the 1st round. The VIII made a strong start to put themselves in the lead and develop a strong rhythm to control the race through to the finish and set up a second round match against National School’s bronze medallists Hampton.
The crew expected a tough race against Hampton having come off second best to them at the National Schools' Regatta. The VIII followed a similar routine in preparation for the race and found themselves back on the start line on Thursday morning. Both crews made an equally strong start with very little to choose between them at the end of the island. At the quarter-mile Hampton had a slight advantage of a canvas. The VIII pressed hard through to the Barrier where they managed to reverse the margin in their favour. The crews traded blows stroke after stroke down the 2112-metre course. The crew managed to extend their lead to a quarter of a length at the 3/4-mile mark and then open up a little further past Remenham Club. As both boats approached the final 500 metres, Hampton closed to within a quarter of a length and then to within 2 feet with 200m to go. Both crews were at full tilt the entire length of the course and in the final 100 meters the VIII had nothing left to give and narrowly lost out. The crew were disappointed to be knocked out but can be proud in the way they acquitted themselves at the event.