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Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments: The 1988 Triple

It’s the final moment of Group One – the First VIII’s triple success in 1988 at Schools’ Head of the River, National Schools Regatta, and Henley Royal Regatta.

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Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments Group One: First VIII win The Triple, 1988

This article first featured in The Hamptonian, Hampton’s alumni newsletter, in 2018, and is reproduced with the kind permission of the Alumni Office. It was written by Ed Bellamy OH (1989).

In 1988, after winning the Schools’ Head of the River and the National Schools Championship Eights, the Hampton crew secured the ‘Triple’ by defeating Eton and winning the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley.

The academic year started on a high due to the fact that in the preceding summer Great Britain won their first ever junior medal in the coxless fours. The crew contained two Hamptonians, Jonny Searle and Rupert Obholzer, with Obholzer returning to Hampton for his final year. For the first time in history, Hampton could build a British schoolboy VIII around a junior gold medallist.

But the weather in the run up to Hampton Head had been so wet that the race was unable to be run on our stretch of the river. However, as with many things back then, a few phone calls and the event was switched to the Tideway.

So, with the newly formed Hampton VIII, composed of two J16s (including Greg Searle) and one member of the previous year’s crew, was able to defend the title.

After winning at Bedford Head, we went to Schools’ Head, where we won by seven seconds – the first win of the ‘Triple’.

After a long winter, it was time for the National Schools Regatta. We progressed into the final of the Championship Eights and had a flyer at the start, gaining a quarter of a length. We led all the way and won by a length. Two out of three.

Then, we moved on to Henley, and the Princess Elizabeth Cup. Deflated by the loss of Obholzer to a back injury, we had to reshuffle the boat, racing only once as a crew.

We progressed through to the final after beating Salisbury School USA and Monmouth, setting up a showdown against Eton College, whose crew contained a certain Matthew Pinsent.

Eton led us throughout the race, but as we approached the Grandstand we had a surge in belief, allowing us to row Eton down and take the victory and the final piece of the Triple set.

So we had the Triple, but had won it with 11 members rather than nine, a mark of Hampton’s strength in depth and adaptability. Eight members of the First VIII were selected to row for Great Britain at the Junior World Championships that year in various crews.

This moment will be judged in Group One, alongside the First XV’s victory at the St. Joseph’s National Festival in 2015, the First XI’s National T20 final in 2005, and Max Kretzschmar’s EFL debut.

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