With the main racing season drawing to a close the Women’s Senior Squad can look back on mixed fortunes this summer. We have had some fantastic races and some fantastic results but we’ve also ended up on the wrong side of some extremely close verdicts. As expected, with 7 of last year’s squad pregnant at some stage during the winter season, squad numbers were a bit down on the previous year however we still continued to welcome new members who have all enjoyed representing the club at the main races of the season.  

After returning from another excellent training camp in Hazewinkel the start of summer racing for many kicked off at Wallingford Regatta at the end of April. This regatta was used more as an eliminator than anything else – the coaches wanting to establish early on what combinations worked/didn’t work. With the first race shakedown behind them, the following weekend the heavyweights headed to Ghent to try various combinations of double scull and also a quad. Doing a double scull at Ghent always involves a horrendously early wake-up, but despite this Tash Wase & Helen Selden won the silver medal on the Saturday in the double and then joined forces with Katy Williams and Clare Haley to win the bronze medal in the quad. Keen to continue their success on the Sunday, the quad cruised through their heat and beat Saturday’s first and second placed crews in the final picking up the silver medal behind an Irish composite crew.

There was then a lull in proceedings until the Met regatta at the end of May where once again the quad was in action, together with a newly formed lightweight four (Dani Phillips, Tamsin Knill, Susie Wilkinson and Emma Mitchell) and heavyweight double of Siobhan Kennedy and Rachel Finnes. The quad dominated the S2 event on the Saturday, winning despite the fact that they were geared on the same gearing as the GB Women’s Quad [Russ – oops! New blades … :o) ]. Unfortunately this win meant that they were bumped up to race Elite on the Sunday, and despite a valiant effort to the 1000m mark the gearing took its toll and the quad finished third. The lightweight four took their task of “racing to the 1000m” literally and having squeezed ahead of their opposition then allowed their opposition to row through them again in the second half of the race. The double raced well but were unable to proceed beyond the repechage in a strong S2 event.

At Henley Women’s Regatta, in addition to the usual suspects from the squad we also had an Intermediate coxed four racing (Karin Phillips, Sara Scott, Steph Proctor and Amy Bunt coxed by Lisa Knill) and Marlow’s own Sporting Giants racing in Senior doubles alongside Siobhan and Rachel. The four unfortunately failed to get through the qualifying races and although both doubles successfully got through one round they were then both knocked out. The lightweights won their first race against Nottingham University easily, but then came up against the eventual winners, Mortlake Anglian and Alpha. The Elite 4x had a superb scull in the first round, beating Upper Thames convincingly to make the final where they then faced a composite Mortlake, Tideway Scullers and Rebecca crew which included 3 ex-GB squad members. A thrilling race saw both crews put in a very gutsy performance however in the end the Marlow crew just missed out, losing the final by a canvas – the closest verdict of the day in what was deemed by many to be the best race of the day.

The disappointment of losing out on a medal was short-lived as the quad pre-qualified for Henley Royal Regatta and was a “selected” crew based on the results from the season. Unfortunately illness plagued the run up to HRR and although they had a solid row in their Friday quarter final the boat lacked some of the spark it had in other races and the crew were beaten by ¾ length by Imperial College.  

4x in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup at HRR 

It was 3rd time lucky on the Henley stretch for Clare and Tash as they raced at Henley Veterans Regatta a week later. Racing in Vet A doubles they won their heat against Auriol Kensington comfortably and their final against a Globe/Avon County composite crew easily. This made up for losing their heat of Veteran B quads (with Jo Chesney and Kristel Ruinet) by 2 ½ lengths to an Upper Thames crew containing Olympic silver medallist Guin Batten.


Tash and Clare Winning WVet A 2x at Henley Vets ...


... The Smurf can see that the Trauma of being looked after by Daddy was worth it

The National Championships were attended by the quad and lightweight four, the latter having a straight final on the Sunday. The quad turned up to race on the Saturday to discover that one of the crews in their event had withdrawn, which dropped the race to a straight final also. Ordinarily this would not have made a difference, however on Sunday the mother of all cross-winds was blowing and from very early on in the day the lanes were seeded according to finish times from the heats with 6 being for the fastest crews and 1 for the slowest. No prizes for guessing what lane the Marlow crew ended up in (1). Notwithstanding all of this, the quad raced extremely well and finished 5th in a blanket finish, only 2 seconds off bronze. Although bitterly disappointed that their last race of the season should be so “unfair”, the crew could hold their heads high knowing that they had done everything asked of them in the race.

The lightweight four had a fantastic race in their final and easily pulled ahead of Nottingham and Agecroft to bring home the silver medal behind the HWR winners, Mortlake. This also was the best result of any crew racing in Lane 1 at the regatta! Special mention should also go to the Sporting Giants who made the final of the doubles event in their first ever 2000m regatta.


Lightweight 4- Get Silver at the Nat Champs


Dani, Tamsin, Emma and Susie

Only 4 from the squad attended Henley Town and Visitors Regatta at the beginning of August. Dani and Tamsin enjoyed looking at the back of Mortlake’s one-piece to win S3 doubles, and they were followed down the course by Clare and Tash who won S2 pairs – well, not literally “followed” as the pair did their best to jeopardise their chances by slaloming down the buoys … only saved by the fact that their opposition seemed equally intent on trying out their rudder skills. Determined to redeem their less than impressive pair’s victory, Clare and Tash stormed to victory in S1 doubles notching up the third fastest time of the day, only being beaten by 2 eights. Phew.


Dani and Tamsin Collecting WS3 2x at Henley T&V


Clare and Tash win WS2 2- at Henley T&V

And so another season ends … Given the number of people actually racing this season the squad had a very decent set of results: 5 wins, 3 silver medals and 1 bronze medal. But there is another set of results worthy of a mention: 7 babies ! Congratulations to Clare & Russ (Ione), Kathy & Soren (Alex), Karin & Ed (Henry), Bridget & Jim (Harriet), Sarah & James (Oscar), Victoria & Mike (Euan) and last but by no means least Andrea & Mark (Riley). Here’s looking to next year …

As ever we welcome any new members (lightweight or heavyweight) with rowing experience, whether sweep or sculling, and we hope that some more of the new MRC mums will come back to row next season. If you want to join please contact Russ Haley on 07770 568761 or russell@rhaley.orangehome.co.uk