Captain's Report

It has been another successful if not eventful year for the club which continues to go from strength to strength. In fact as far as I can tell, all areas of the club seem to be flourishing! No mean feat when you consider the awful conditions we have experienced for most of the winter. Due to the early timing of the AGM this year I am unable to provide a complete report of the year as the main events of the regatta season have yet to take place. By the time you read this I am hoping everyone associated with the club will be celebrating our victories at Marlow International, Women’s Henley, Henley Royal and the National Championships! Well here’s hoping anyway ;)

The start of the season kicked of with the clubs inaugural First Row challenge which saw teams of complete novices of all shapes and sizes compete over a short course by the club. The event was a great success and of particular note were an exceptional All Girls crew who made the final under the slightly misleading name of Tom’s Totty! In fact three of that crew have progressed into the ladies development squad (well done Amy, Sally and Caroline) and a number of other competitors also caught the bug.

There has definitely been an upsurge in new athletes taking to the sport this year, thanks to the continued efforts Jackie Thoeming, Sally Reay, Lisa Knill and of course everyone associated with Project Oarsome and the Junior Development squad (Richard Robinson, Ray Swordy and Colin Picton) rowing certainly seems to be a cool sport these days! Let’s make sure this years First Row is another great success.

Ian has already mentioned the successes of our international athletes which continues to inspire all areas of the club. We have some definite stars of the future though in the Lovedays and the Mottrams. Steph had a fantastic trip down under in January representing GB in the youth Olympics and came away with an amazing 3 gold medals to add to her 2 from the Coupe. James and David fresh from a successful home countries campaign have also been working very hard behind the scenes and narrowly missed selection for the GB squad in the U23 Ltwts, but proved their talent recently at The Met Regatta only just being pipped by the selected GB double. Good effort boys! All three athletes ultimately have been struck down with illness or injury at very key times of the season and so have narrowly missed out on GB this year, but mark my words, they will be back leaner and meaner next year aiming for that all important GB vest.

Once again we have an outstanding group of juniors at the club, some of which are also pushing hard for international colours. Steph’s younger brother Mikey and Jack Hockley are definitely in with a shout, as is Sophie Pain from the girl’s side. By far the most successful crew of the season of the whole club has been the girls J16 4x of Cordelia Wilson, Phoebe Lucas, Alice Denyer and Rachel Finnis who won gold at the Junior National Scullers Head and Gold at National Schools Regatta, with Phoebe and Cordelia also doubling up to take gold in the double as well. As always the list of wins is seemingly endless from within the junior squad – a testament to the setup and the coaching efforts led by Russell and Brett with expert assistance from Joff Spencer-Jones and Roy Prosser 

The senior squads have probably been hit the hardest by the weather this season, with training regularly being disrupted and crews not able to get below the lock for their usual long outings. The weather affected the senior men so badly that every head race was cancelled up to the 8’s head this year. As most of you already know, even this race was abandoned but not before the first 8 was allowed to start and then promptly sink. Many thanks to the lifeguards who picked us up safe and sound if not a little cold and wet! This was particularly disappointing for me as we had managed to put together the pick of the junior squad athletes into a novice 8 which I’m sure would have done exceptionally well. Hopefully next year lads! The season had started out fairly promisingly with a win in the Pairs Head for myself and Rob Downie, and a second place in the fours head. But morale definitely dropped with the lack of racing. Thankfully the squad have turned a big corner and things are looking very good for Henley now thanks to the continued efforts of John Stephenson, Maurice and Sean.

The ladies of Marlow are also having a promising season although they will have to deal with the loss of probably their most consistent outstanding member of recent years. Well done to Claire Haley for all her efforts and I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing her the very best in her new role as a young mother! Congratulations to Russ and Claire. Back to the water there have been some good wins across the board for pretty much all the athletes and expect a strong showing at Womens Henley from the lightweight quad and a composite double with last years winner Tash Wase on board.

Even the Veteran Squad seems to be getting bigger, with some noticeable class new athletes making the switch – John Tetley and Richard (crab man) Aplin have certainly been missed this year from the senior mens squad. Although not so Daisy’s banter ;) The demand for boats for this group of guys is also getting more and more intense. This year will see the clubs largest entry at the World Championships in Zagreb this September – good luck guys!

As Ian noted in his report I will be standing down after only one year as the Captain of Marlow Rowing Club. I’m afraid the stress of competing while trying to run the club was too much to take on at this stage of my life. In an ideal world I would have liked to have served a number of years as Captain but having thought long and hard over this I had to come to a decision about my own future. It has filled me with an enormous sense of pride to be the Captain of this great club as I’m sure past Captains can vouch for. Thanks to Brett for offering to take over in the short term while a suitable candidate can be found for the continued successful future of the club.

Tom McGibbon 
July 2007