Time spent on the water during an unusually sunny training camp in Hazewinkle has paid great dividends this season with wins at almost every regatta attended and international selection for one of the Women’s squad athletes.  Below is a summary of our attendance and results.

Wallingford Regatta – WS2 4+ (Louise, Kim, Clare, Vic, Ella - cox)

The first regatta of the season was attended by a lone squad member.  Clare Haley drove the long road north to Strathclyde Park regatta, a Scottish team selection event.  The trip was worthwhile – Clare won open (elite) 1x (defeating the 2004 GB National Champion) and doubled up with Ingrid Hansen (Thames RC) to win open (elite) 2x.  Not a bad start!

Wallingford Regatta – WS2 4+ (Clare, Vic, Ella, Kim, Louise)

The following weekend some of the squad raced at Wallingford, and we had 2 further wins in WE 1x (Clare) and WS2 4+ (Vic Richmond, Kim Wilson, Louise Ainley, Clare & Ella Waddingham).  On a roll, the four (with Sarah Cochrane subbing in for Vic) raced at Gent and despite some shocking conditions won silver at the Belgian National Championships on the Saturday, and came 4th in the final on the Sunday. Helen Selden & Kim proved that there is nothing wrong with slow starts by rowing down the field to win a bronze medal in the 2x on Sunday.

Marlow Spring saw two of the novice squad race for the first time – Rachel Lawrence & Marie Truxler struggled against a strong Oxford crew, however with first race nerves thing of the past things can only get better!

At Twickenham regatta despite steering issues Tamsin Knill won WS4 1x and Louise & Tash Somers won their novices in WN 2x.  Dani & Tamsin nearly made it a hat trick of wins for the squad, but some erratic steering (who said you needed to be on the outside of the buoys??) resulted in a disqualification rather than a pot. 

Peterborough was attended by those we were not racing at the Met regatta, and Dani & Tamsin redeemed themselves by staying in their lane and winning WS3 2x.  Meanwhile over at Dorney, Clare, Helen and Kim were racing at the Met.  Kim & Helen won their heat of WS2 2x comfortably and then finished 5th in the final.  Clare struggled with the conditions early on in the day but in her third and final race (WE 1x) she had a stormer and came in 3rd, ahead of a number of GB squad final triallists.  On Sunday, the 4+ (Vic, Kim, Louise, Clare & Ella) won WS2 4+ in a thrilling final against Oxford.

The weekend before Women’s Henley is not an ideal weekend for a 900 mile round trip but Scottish selection criteria required Clare to race at the Scottish Championships in order to continue to be eligible for selection.  Clare & Ingrid raced the 2x in a borrowed boat, which they attempted to set up with a tape measure and string (Russ would be proud); it must have worked because they won but by all accounts it wasn’t pretty.

Closer to home, Lou & Tash won WS3 2x at Reading Town. 

The women’s squad was represented by 3 boats at Henley Women’s Regatta – Vic, Kim, Louise, Clare & Ella Senior 4+, Helen in Elite 1x and Dani, Tamsin, Bridget King & Sarah Cochrane in a lightweight 4-.  The 4+ suffered the ultimate nightmare of being rowed down in the last 250m by Yale University in the second round.  Yale lost the final to Nottingham University.  Helen had a cracker of a rowover in her first round, and led last year’s lightweight 1x winner for the first half of the semi-final, but was also rowed down by the more experienced single sculler.  The Lightweight 4- were just too little – they had an excellent race and, unlike their opposition, steered a blinding course, however at the end of the day they were beaten by the ultimate winners who were at least 3 feet taller than the Marlow girls.
Wins in WS4 2x (Tash & Louise) and WS3 1x (Dani) at Bedford and in WVA 1x (Clare) at Henley Vets continued the squad’s success and acted as a good warm up for the Nationals.  At the Nationals, the luck (or bad luck) of the draw was the pertinent expression of the weekend.  Clare and Helen were drawn in the same 1x heat with the eventual gold and bronze medalists, and Clare & Ingrid suffered the blow of being the 4th boat in the fastest semi final of the 2x on Sunday, having convincingly won their heat on Saturday.  Dani & Tamsin had a superb race in the lightweight 2x, and qualified for the repechage but sadly didn’t make it through to the final.  Helen & Louise showed great promise for next year, racing through the repechage in the 2- to come 4th in the final – not bad for their first race in the pair.  

Clare & Ingrid gained selection for Scotland in the 2x and 4x, and raced at the Home International Regatta in Cardiff on 23rd July.  Rowing in a properly set up boat, with time together, paid off and the Scottish crew were in a comfortable 2nd place with about 500m to go when some wayward steering/cross wind pushed them onto the buoys and they lost a blade.  A quick recovery and strong finish meant they crossed the line in 3rd place, ½ a length behind the English and ahead of the Welsh.  The 4x was a cracking race, and the scratch crew rowed out of their skins to be narrowly beaten by the Irish into 3rd place, with the Welsh in 1st and the English in 4th.

And so to Henley T&V.  The squad turned out in force and the season’s success was boosted with 5 wins – WS1 1x (Helen), WS3 1x (Tash Wase), WN 1x (Bridget), WS2 4- (Vic, Clare, Kim & Louise) and WS2 8 (the 4- plus Helen, Tash W, Jo Chesney, Dani & Ella).  Pretty good result and a great send off for Kim in her last regatta with Marlow for a while …

Maidenhead resulted in Lisa & Sophie finally losing their novice status in WN 2x (hoorah!!), and joining with Tash S & Louise to win WS3 4x.  Praise must go to Louise & Tash however who faced very strong opposition in WS3 2x but somehow managed to pull through and win … hey, if a rowover in the final means you can win HWR then it means you can win at Maidenhead too!!

The final regatta of what seems to have been an incredibly long season was a very wet and windy Peterborough, where those diehard members of the squad (to everyone else - idiots) went up for a weekend of racing, camping and no doubt a little drinking.  On Saturday, Helen & Louise won WS2 2x in an extremely close race.  Unfortunately the WS3 2x and WS3 8 were not so lucky, and despite qualifying well for the final, could not repeat the success.  A similar story unfolded on the Sunday, with final placings for the WS3 8 and WS3 2x.

With a fantastic total of 24 wins / medals from the squad this season, thanks must go to Russ and Andy for their patience, time and effort spent coaching, rigging, trailer driving and everything else they have done for the squad this season.  There is no doubt that it has been an extremely successful season and a great platform to build on for next year.  Who knows what we might achieve if we learn how to steer.

It is with sadness that we say “goodbye” to Kim & Mark, who have returned to New Zealand after 2 1/2 years in the UK.  It just won’t be the same without those Kiwi quips.  At least there is now an excuse to come back to visit in 2012 with Kimmie & Mark jnr!

A reminder for everyone that the new season starts on 10th September, 8.30am at MRC.  See you there!!