A number of Trent Rowing Club crews walked – or rather rowed – in the slipstream of the world’s Olympic stars when they took the opportunity to race at the Wallingford Regatta over the recent Bank Holiday weekend. This regatta was held at Eton Dorney, the purpose-built eight-lane, 2,000m course where the Olympic rowing and canoeing regattas were held, and where the next Rowing World Cup is to be held in June.
Trent entered to gain race experience against the best crews in the country, but did not embarass themselves, collecting a batch of fourth and fifth-place finishes.
For a number of Trent’s rowers, this was their first race over a 2,000m course and the conditions were near perfect for the racing, with a slight following wind.
The first crew to race were the women’s junior quadruple scull team of Eloise McMahon, Kellie Hathaway, Judith Lego and 15-years-old Jess Gilbert, who moved up a year to join this newly-formed crew.
There were two heats of six crews, with the first three from each heat going on to race in the six boat final later in the morning.
The crew began in last place, but showed great character to gradually make ground on the rest of the field to come through the 1,000m marker in fourth place, and although for the remainder of the race they were catching the leading three boats, that is where they finished, with a time that made them sixth fastest of the 12 crews.
Next on the water were Ben Eames and Matthew Pountney, racing in the elite double sculls, a five-boat final including three strong teams from Henley Leander, most of whom are full time and one of whom was a world champion.
Eames and Pountney had a strong start and were in the leading pack, but the three Henley doubles gradually pulled away and the Trent crew came fourth.
The duo have set a target of being fast enough to qualify for the Henley Royal Regatta and this was an indication of what is required.
Last to race were the women’s junior 15 quadruple scull, comprising 13-year-old Lucy Holgate – who had only joined the crew the previous Tuesday – Jazmine Smith, Jade Smith, stroked by Lucy McQuoney and coxed by the experienced Anna Cresswell.
With 18 crews in this event, to get into the final was not going to be easy, as the fastest two crews from each of the three heats would progress.
Trent and the exceptional Headington School crew pulled away from the rest of the field after around 250m of the race, and although they were pressed hard over the last 500m, the girls finished second to gain that coveted place.
In the final, Trent found themselves in fifth with 250m to go with over a boat’s length between them and fourth, and although they sprinted to the line, they finished just shy of a top four spot.
With both the junior women’s crews changing personnel during the week, they both performed better than previously, gaining valuable experience for forthcoming regattas.
Trent are to compete at Shrewsbury Regatta, Nottingham City and The National Schools Regatta during May.
Anyone who would like to try rowing is invited to come along and taste the club’s hospitality at 10am on any Sunday.