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Big Bang, back to racing! - Jun 11, 2021

After some 16 months without racing at a proper regatta or external event, the boat club boys were finally out in force once again during the ½ term break.

 

It has been a long, long road back to the start line – lockdown training, own time training, zoom sessions, lot of indoor rowing machine session, running, weights, cycling – it has been one hell of a challenge. No training camps, no away trips, limited numbers at sessions, all year group bubbles, the logistics have challenged the coaching team like never before, and it is normally challenging anyway!

 

But we made it, back to the start line. The boys have been overall simply incredible – engaged, with a great attitude, for those who raced the sense of achievement was incredible just to be at the start. Especially for the J15 (year 10) who after a year and half involvement with the boat club still had not earned their boat club ties, presented on completion of their first external event.

 

Racing started with a bang, with the National Schools Regatta first up!! This saw the 1st and 2nd quads race, as well as a senior eight and 2 J16 year 11 quads.

 

Normally this is the culmination of the year, with many races in the build-up. But this year it was virtually straight into the biggest race of the year, and certainly the most prestigious except for Henley Royal Regatta (moved to August this year.)

 

Following the 2-day Nationals it was straight into the Junior Sculling Regatta for the J15 squad (they didn’t race at the Nationals as events were limited in numbers with a National Focus on Seniors) and J16 small boats.

The lead seniors were then back in action Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the National Great Britain Rowing Team selection trials  – 5 senior boys raced at this, as they finally had their chance to get identified towards the World and European Junior Rowing Championships later in the year.

 

On Friday the new J14s and J15s were up at Dorney Lake taking part in an internal singles regatta, as part of their development in the sport. No external racing yet for the year 9 but they are developing well. They were involved in start line duties at all the regattas during the week and had a cool experience on the start line. It was great to have so many boys (over 35) out on the lake at Dorney, having a go and developing their experience for the future

The week finished at the 2-day Metropolitan Regatta back at Dorney (Dorney regattas have started because of the ability to lock down Dorney fully to prevent spectators, sadly).  The boys were very tired by the time this event started, so it may have been one race too many for the week, but it was great to have the boys out racing.

A very, very full on week – but what a great week, with much success, much drama, ups and downs, disappointments, and wins.

 

National Schools Regatta

For the National Schools Regatta – a regatta for U19s across all schools, clubs, academies, and association in the country – the Boat Club entered 5 boats (much reduced from a normal year).

The J16 squad have had a difficult time in the sport, but it was great to see 2 quads out competing on the Sunday – and it was excellent to see the B quad of Finlay Bratt, Alex Brambilla-Higgins, Jacob Ingels and Timur Filyk take the BRONZE medal in the J16 2nd boats event! Meanwhile sadly the A quad did not qualify to the side by side racing from the morning time trail qualification races.

 

The senior Eight of Taylor Brown, Nat Harlow, Jake Ingham, Freddie Pope, Freddy Rosen, Harvey Griffin Sadler, Mickey Iqbal, Ben Lewin, and William Parr (cox) competed in the Championship Eights event.  After a slightly disappointing time trial race they made the C final (no semi-finals this year to reduce the race programme and numbers).  In the 8 lane C final though they really turned things around – after a tentative start they found their rhythm to break through the pack and over take race favourite Hampton to cross the finish line 2000m later as victors of the C final, which was met by lots of celebrations and splashing of water – a brilliant sight, and a euphoric moment for this crew.

 

The senor 2nd Quads event has grown in strength over the year, and the crew of Max Griffin Sadler, Matty Sadler, Charlie Ingham and Dylan James went into the event confident in their ability – at least 2 of the crew had narrowly missed out on making the 1st quad, and are extremely capable oarsman. After the time trial qualification, they were ranked 1st going into the A final, where they went on to dominate the final to take the GOLD medal.  A fantastic display of composed and powerful sculling, this crew has been brilliant in their attitude and approach and got a much-earned reward!

The Championship Quads event is one of the 2 flag ship boys event at the Nationals (the girls have the equivalent too), the other being the Championship 8s. Always hotly contested, Windsor Boys has a strong history, and our crew of Marcus Chute, Max Bird, Charlie Warren and Jacob Ioras went into the event knowing they had an opportunity. They did not disappoint in the Time trial qualification race where they qualified 1st to the A final. However, in the final into a very strong head wind, they were slightly outmuscled through the middle of the race to find themselves 1 length down coming into the last quarter. A huge effort though saw them make ground on the leader and coming through the last 100m it looked like they might just nick it on the line -sadly it was not to be, and the final verdict was 2 feet – a disappointment for sure, but what a race, and what a performance. This crew will be back, and the result will only fuel their determination!

 

Junior Sculling Regatta

On the Monday of ½ term it was the turn of the J16 small boats. It was great to see two J16 double entered, though sadly neither of them made it through the qualification races. In the singles event, both Charlie Spencer and Jacob Mujuni made it to the C final which was a great effort by them!

 

The J15 Octuple of Antonio Todorov, Sam Gibbard, Oliver Griffiths, James Hookham, Ryan Newman, Jonah McIntyre, Chris Allen, Diogo Pacheco and Kristien Lund (cox) raced for the first time in the octuples event, where they qualified to the B final eventually coming in in third place – an excellent experience for them, with much learned!

 

The J15 Double of Toby Ayres and Jakob Truter race the double event, and did well to make the A final eventually coming home in 6th Place. Like the quad below, they have stuck with it and have much potential in the sport and are great boat club boys.

 

The J15 quad of Sanad Al Qahef, Pedro Theriaga, Atticus Chute, Jimmy Harlow, and cox Joshua Claassen where finally at the start line of their first ever race. While very nervous they also have a lot of confidence having fully engaged in processes for well over a year now. While they had missed out on racing, they had missed little else and it was testament to their character and determination that they stayed with the sport, even when many of their friends who had a lot of potential in the sport chose to stop – it was not easy for them and I am sure there were pressures, but they stuck with it which was very impressive – they really have gelled as a cohesive group and with Toby Ayres and Jakob Truter providing competition for seats, they rose to the challenge.

 

In the time trial qualification, they showed just how much they had bought into the process and keeping going, as they qualified first to the A final, before a dominant race in the final saw them take the GOLD medal! Congratulations to them for this but mostly for keeping going, no matter what- what a great example of mindset and determination, to not quit, even when the going got tough or perhaps they wondered what the sport was all about.

 

Great Britain Selection regatta and trials

Five boys were entered into the Great Britain team selection regatta and trials over the ½ term. This was an unusual event, with all previous trials for the year having been cancelled for the pandemic, so it was the first opportunity for athletes who aspired to the Great Britain Rowing team, and the Junior World and European Rowing Championships Teams to show what they individually were capable of.

A much-reduced format saw a Time Trial Qualification race and final in the single, followed by a series of races in the double scull.

 

In the singles events, the results for the WBSBC athletes were perhaps unprecedented. After the time trials and finals, the final rankings saw Marcus Chute take the overall victory winning the trial by 3 seconds in the A final. Marcus has been utterly fantastic through lock down and always tries his best for all training sessions whether it be in the gym, at home or on the water.  An understated personality, he never loses sight of the need to do a session event when he might not want to really do it and has earned every bit of his success being ranked number 1 in the UK.

 

Perhaps equally impressive though where the results of Charlie Warren who came 4th after the time trials but then raced to 2nd place in the A final – like Marcus he is ever present and attacks every session of the challenging training programme  – after having knee problems in the winter this results was testament to Charlie overcoming issues and rising to the challenge and getting a just reward!

 

Max Bird and Jacob Ioras were also ranked in the top 12 athletes with Dylan James coming a creditable 14th too. An outstanding set of singles results.

The trial moved on to the double scull for the top 12 athletes only, and following five exhausting races, Marcus Chute came out of the trial ranked number 1 in the double too. Charlie Warren, Max Bird and Jacob Ioras where all in the top 8.

 

The reality of this trial is while impressive results, it was only a marker for the future, and on the back of these results the boys will be invited to the final trials in July where they will be tested again towards selection for one of the internal teams for the Summer

 

Onwards

The boat club boys continue to train well, and I am excited to see them out racing in coming weeks at Dorney, Peterborough, Kingston, Mosley and Nottingham, all going well. Next Sunday 20th June we will see the current J14s race for the first time which will be great too!! Despite the limitations and how hard it has been to stay inclusive and run the performance programme, the results have been impressive, as have the vast number of boys sticking with it!

Well done to them all whether they have raced yet or not – hopefully it gets a little easier but stick with it and keep going!

 

Huge thank you to all the parents who have supported the boys, and to the coaching staff of Chris Morrell, Sid Ruse, Ben Liddell, Kieran Hennessey Hunt, Arthur Smith, Bryn Ellery and Harry Oliver who have worked so tirelessly over the past 18 month s to give as much opportunity to boys as possible.

The boat club also ran a Learn to Row Course over the half term – well done and thank you to al the senior boys who helped on this course.

 

Mark Wilkinson | Director of Rowing
The Windsor Boys’ School | 1 Maidenhead Road | Windsor | Berkshire | SL4 5EH
Tel: 01753 716060 | www.twbs.co.uk | @wbsbc| www.facebook.com/windsorboysboatclub
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Racing photos credit: Chris Morrell