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Success for J14 Crews at National Schools Regatta

By Patrick Moroney

On the final day of exam week the J14A (bow to stroke: Billy T, Aiden H, Jack H, Archer J, Zach K, Oliver S, Patrick M and Will L coxed by Johnny R), B (bow to stroke: Boris D, Daniel T, Alex P, Matthew W, Leon M, Azam A, Thomas L and Ben F coxed by Akshay P) and C (Bow to stroke: Chris C, Henry P, Albert S, Max T, Eric M, Harry GW, Alessio C and Gabriel H coxed by Cassian BS) octos all went to Dorney Lake for the National Schools Regatta.

After an early start, at the school by 7am, we soon arrived at Dorney and rigged our boats up ready for our time trial at 10:45. J14A were to set off second of twenty seven crews entered in the 1st octo category. We knew that we would at least need to come 6th to qualify for the A final and have a chance of medalling. After a while in the marshalling area, we turned out and began the 500m paddle to the measuring line before we began our 1km race.

During the time trial we suffered from a fierce cross head-wind one of the most difficult conditions to both row and steer in with the wind both slowing you down and pushing you to the side. On what was a very difficult test of our technique, we finished the time trial with a time of 3:37.60. A good time considering the conditions, which meant we qualified for the A final later in the day.

St Paul’s School had come first with a time of 3:34.97, with Windsor boys coming in second with a time of 3:36.12 (just over a second slower) and us 2.63 seconds off first place. The rest of our final was completed by Abingdon School (3:40.36), Reading Blue Coat School (3:40.91) and Radley College (3:41.98).

We had a considerable wait in between races with all postponed by half an hour because of difficulties with marshalling boats and stakeboating (stakeboating is where boats are held onto a start pontoon before racing) before races due to difficult conditions). This time extended and racing went well on into the evening. We had been asssigned lane 3 with place number deciding lane. The more favourable lanes being the lower-numbered ones considering the conditions.

Once all boats were ready, we were started with a sharp, “attention, go!”. And we were off. St Paul’s from the start gained a lead. For much of the race our bow ball and Windsor’s were changing places slightly edging in front before losing it once again. We were so close we could hear the sound of their cox giving instructions to their crew. By the 500m mark, halfway through the race, St Paul’s led by two seconds over Windsor with us 0.21 seconds behind them and Abington just over two seconds behind us. 

Now in the second 500m with pain beginning to properly set in St Paul’s pace began to slow, as did ours and Windsor’s but Windsor managed to hang on to second. St Paul’s crossed the line first though with a time of (3:17.15), with Windsor behind (3:18.20) and with us completing the list of medallists (3:20.68), Abingdon came fourth (3:23.99) unable to catch up to us with Reading Blue Coat fifth (3:30.03) and Radley College just 0.03 seconds behind (3:30.06).

The B octo had narrowly missed out on the 2nd octo A final, by under a second. They finished 3rd in their B final with a time of 3:39.56, 2.55 seconds off first place. The C octo also raced in the 2nd octo category as there wasn’t one specifically for 3rd octos. They came 16th qualifying for the C final, an impressive achievement considering 2nd octos from some schools had not qualified for a final at all. They finished fourth in their final with a time of 3:54.40.

Thanks must go to all the coaches and to those who organised the event as the squad are back in action this coming Saturday for Star Regatta in Bedford.

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