Home International Regatta
University term and Henley behind us, many students have now headed home for the summer break, but 8 athletes were working away having qualified to represent England at the Home International Regatta. Trials were the start of a busy fortnight for the athletes preparing for the regatta, including a training weekend held at Reading Bluecoat School for the composite crews. This was particularly useful for the larger boats such as the eights. On the Thursday before racing the squad travelled up to Strathclyde, rigging the boats and familiarising themselves with the water and training centre with their first paddle of the regatta. The team were hosted at Strathclyde University accommodation in Glasgow not far from the course. Friday was a training day for the crews, another chance for the athletes doubling up to get out in their composites and club crews, making the final preparations on the course and working with the England management team to be in the best position possible for the next day.
Saturday came round and with it a turn in the weather, it was set to be a warm but very wet day at Strathclyde County Park. Aside from the rain, the conditions were nearly perfect with a fairly still lake over the course of the event. On home turf, the Scottish team, eventual overall winners, put out an incredibly strong squad with returning international rowers reinforcing crews across categories. They would end up being the main competition for the England squad vying for the four cups over the event (Senior Men and Women, and Junior Men and Women). With such competition, spectators were in for some good racing, the crews with UoNBC athletes all taking it to the line against the opposition for their eventual positions. A summary of the results is included below, but there are two races to highlight from Saturday.
The men’s coxless four, all UoN athletes extending their season a little longer after their BUCS and Henley campaigns, put together one of the best races to watch across the regatta. Off the start the Irish crew pulled away quickly. Known for their high-rated and front-loaded racing they would be trying to shake off strong competition from the Scottish and English. Moving through the first 500m block the 3 crews were clear of the Welsh, and caught up in a fight for the front position. Still holding onto their rate, the Irish made a couple of attempts to break clear over the next quarter, but found themselves unable to quite make the move. At half way, the English and Scottish fours, separated by a single lane, that of the Irish, simultaneously made their first big bids for the front of the pack. Moving together, both came through the Irish and into the final third of the race, it would be these two that would fight it to the line. In front of the home crowd it was the Scottish that made the first move for the finish, taking the rate up quickly. Still in their race plan the England crew held on with long and clean rowing, squeezing a little more into the final 250m. Here, with the spectators now creating a wall of noise, both crews went for it with Scotland sitting half a length up on the English. On the banks, in the commentary tower, and on the water, it was impossible to separate the two into the line. Both crews were unaware of the result as they sat there for an announcement, eventually to hear that Scotland had taken the win in a photo-finish by a tenth of a second.
After taking nearly all the wins in the men’s sweep events, the England eight boated with little time together as an actual crew (made up of athletes from 3 clubs), instead trusting the cumulative experience and talent to take the fight to the opposition. It paid off, with the crew taking a commanding lead “taking apart the field” in the first quarter of the race, they were able to settle into a dominating position and comfortable rhythm through to the finishing tower. They kept their speed all the way past the grandstand to claim victory, and a medal for Jack Coulthard and Joe Bright of UoN. Well-deserved, and exacting some revenge for their race earlier in the day, congratulations to both of them.
Summary of results;