National School Championships 2017.
Saturday 27th May brought the beginning of the Star Club’s campaign at the National Schools’ Regatta, the pinnacle of British junior rowing. This would be the last time I would have the opportunity to race in this event before leaving for university, like several others in the squad, so naturally I wanted to make the most of this experience. My racing did not begin until Sunday, but I travelled to Dorney Lake a day early to support the advanced boys squad in their events.
The day began with the time trial of the boys four, who qualified in a respectable 10th place, therefore progressing through to the AB semi-finals. The boys were closely followed by Edward White, who also qualified for the AB semi-finals in 15th place in the Championship boys single scull, even more impressive considering that this was from a strong field of 53 competitors.
Having already battled some strong gusts in the time trial, the boys faced a challenging row in their semi-finals when a crosswind began to strengthen at exactly the wrong time! Despite both Edward and the four producing competent rows, they were not aided by having received two of the worst lanes in the challenging conditions, and so did not progress to the A finals. All are agreed however that they have achieved a lot this season, both the four taking to sweep oar rowing having previously focused on sculling, and Edward qualifying in the top group of such a strong field – a positive first day!
Sunday brought the bulk of Star Club’s entries; the J16 girls’ and boys’ quads, the Championship girls’ double, as well as Emily Eagles and I in the Championship girls’ pair. The first of the time trials began with the girls’ quad, who came off the water feeling hopeful that they would fulfil their goal of qualifying for the AB semi-finals – modest as ever, they completely exceeded expectations and went on to qualify 4th out of 31 boats, an extremely impressive feat! The boys quad were also happy to qualify 10th in their category, but unfortunately the girls double was eliminated, having only trained together for a limited time.
By the time my own time trial finally arrived, I was nervous to say the least – having had limited time together, we relied on our experience together of rowing in other boats to get us through. After what I have to say was one of the most gruelling 1800m of my rowing career (despite the desirable conditions), we were thankful to qualify into the C final out of 32 crews – a high number compared to last year’s entry in the same category of 16, something Emily and I lamented upon seeing the draw!
After celebrating their earlier great result, the J16 girls returned to the water for their semi-final. With the added pressure of multi-lane racing to contend with, they were challenged in a tough race and finished fourth, just missing out on a place in the A final. However, after commiserating on what could have been, and being reminded of what they had already achieved, they went on to win the B final by over a length. The J16 boys also faced a challenging semi-final, finishing in a respectable 5th position – both crews have shown that they have strong potential for the future.
Unfortunately, my own final was affected by Emily’s ongoing back injury – having given her all in the time trial she had been struggling during our warm up, and so we could not complete our race as planned, despite a fantastic start. If only the race had been 200m instead of 2000! Nevertheless, I’m still proud of her resilience to race at all, and that’s what I will remember from my last National Schools.
To be able to race at this regatta 5 times is something that I’m very grateful for, and I’m so happy to see that Star Club will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come!