It was a fantastic achievement to have such a large number of boys competing at this event, especially as the bad weather we have had to face this winter has resulted in only a handful of water sessions since December. The arrival at Dorney Lake was a shock to some of them, as the sight of a lake 2200m long by over 100m wide was somewhat more daunting than even the flooded River Severn.
After a quick lunch and boat-rigging session, there was a bit of time to kill before the J14 octople event started to get on the water. The nerves started to build as crews were called to start boating. This hectic part of the day ran very smoothly for all the boys involved; they conducted themselves very professionally and didn’t let the chaos of the situation phase them in any way. Once on the water it was a paddle to the warm-up channel before getting into number order before the start. This event is run in a head race format: crews race one by one against the clock in hope of achieving the fastest time.
There were over 50 crews entered into the J14 category, many of these having had much more time on the water than the RSSBC crews, due to their training stretches of water not being vulnerable to flooding. The first of the Shrewsbury crews set off and looked very strong into the slight headwind going up the course. Passing the warm-up channel outlet, the crew got a great cheer from the third of the Shrewsbury crews waiting to race, a great thing to hear from their fellow Third Form team mates.
The second leg of the race was with a slight following wind, a relief to some of the boys after the effort they had put in to the first 1800m section. Reaching the finish line they were greeted with many cheers from the large group of parents who had made the trip down to watch all three crews race.
The second of the Shrewsbury crews set off with huge determination and energy. They put on a very good show, only catching a few crabs (where the oar gets stuck in the water), which they recovered from quickly and showed some extremely positive rowing. As the event was run in alphabetical order, the final boat from Shrewsbury was the last of the day to race. The third octo showed amazing purpose to overtake crews and put in a controlled, consistent row – a display which made me as a coach, very proud.
After a quick de-rig of the boats, whilst feasting on homemade flapjacks and brownies, the event was over. The results were that the three boats from Shrewsbury came 20th, 38th and 41st out of 50 finishers. This result is a fantastic achievement and all three boats finished ahead of many other schools’ B team boats.
The results of this event are very promising for the J14 rowers in the Summer Term. The boys now have experience of an event on this scale and have plenty to build on and develop going into the future.
To view a gallery of photos taken at Eton Dorney, please click on the image below.: