SINKING SCHOOLS, GRAINGER’S NEW OTHER HALF, HENLEYWATCH May 22 2015
Worried that your season’s hopes may sink like a stone this weekend at National Schools Regatta? At least they won’t do so quite as literally as they did for the Shiplake College 1st VIII back in 2008, with some kind soul on hand to video it and post to YourTube.
After last year’s Somme-like conditions, there is just a light cross-wind forecast this year, which should mean everyone gets to the finish in one piece. But who will get there first in the marquee events?
A poll on the Junior Rowing News website puts Schools Head winners Westminster out front in Boys’ Champ Eights, with good reason as six of their crew made A-finals in pairs and singles at April’s GB junior trials. St Paul’s were a close second on the Tideway and – in Westminster’s absence – were the fastest school crew at a wind-hit Wallingford Regatta three weeks ago, with Shrewsbury and Abingdon close behind.
A surprise second to Westminster in the Boys’ Champ Quads last year, Sir William Borlase’s School look favourites this time around, with three of last year’s crew returning. Leander, Pangbourne and Northwich are hot on their heels. Borlase, meanwhile, are looking for a new head of rowing. Incumbent Robin Dowell is expected to become Great Britain’s lead coach for juniors after a stellar spell with the school.
Girls’ Champ Quads again looks to be between Marlow RC and Gloucester-Hartpury, with Headington a good bet to complete the podium. As Junior Rowing News points out, the Gloucester quad includes Flo Pickles, who has been racing this summer as part of a potential GB Under-23 lightweight double.
Headington are again overwhelming favourites in the Girls Champ Eights. Here’s a look at their last training session on home water.
Grainger’s new other half
Katherine Grainger is back in the Great Britain team for the first time since the 2012 Olympics, with a new partner for the first regatta of Olympic qualifying season, the European Championships in Poznan, Poland next weekend.
Vicky Thornley has been seen as the next big thing for several years – even literally as she stands 6ft 3in tall. She beat Grainger in singles in April for her second successive GB trials victory but in a multi-medal-winning squad her palmares are relatively sparse – a bronze in the eight in 2011. She ended up in a single last season after partner Fran Houghton was injured, and came eighth at the World Champs.
BBC Wales posted this interview with Wrexham native Thornley from 2009, while she was still based at the “Start” talent ID programme in Bath. Watch closely and you may see a younger Helen Glover in the background in the gym.
A rowing dream team?
Did you know that Wrexham's Olympic rower Vicky Thornley only got into the sport after replying to an advert for tall people? Find out more with this great #SportWales feature from 2009...She's joining forces with Olympic champion Katherine Grainger in a new crew for the GB Rowing Team at the European Championships later this month » http://bbc.in/1Pn7YPYPosted by BBC Wales Sport on Thursday, May 14, 2015
Among the other headlines:
- It was the eight in 2013, the four last year and GB’s top heavy men’s sweep boat is the eight again, at least for the start of 2015. Moe Sbihi perhaps summed up the approach when he told the Daily Mail, “This year we want to make sure we get all six boats qualified and then next year it's the big push for the medals”. The men’s four contains three of those who finished fifth in the world in 2013 and the pair is the one that took world silver last year.
- The world silver-medal heavy men’s quad was unchanged, although Charles Cousins has since picked up and injury and will be replaced by 21-year old Jack Beaumont.
- There is no place for Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell, who is apparently still recovering from illness.
- Lightweight brothers Peter and Richard Chambers will race in different boats for the first time since 2015 after Richard was named in the double and Peter in the non-Olympic-class pair.
- Charlotte Taylor will join Olympic champion Kat Copeland in the only Olympic-class boat for lightweight women, the double. Imogen Walsh, who has been ill this winter but won singles trials, races the single in Poznan. Matthew Pinsent has been taking flak from Taylor’s club after calling it “Putney Rowing Town” in commentary last year. He is taking it in good part.
@charlietaylor1x Putney Bridge sailing and Kayak Boat Club must be proud too. ;)— Matthew Pinsent (@matthewcpinsent) May 13, 2015
Wondering how on earth Olympic qualifying works? Crews have to finish within a certain cut-off at the World Champs in September. The left-hand column below shows how many places are on offer and the other columns show how the top nations fared last year.
Dan “Fatsculler” Spring blogged: “I asked Jurgen Grobler whether this [selection] was a pragmatic decision based on Olympic qualification at this year’s World championships….there are 11 spots in the 4- but only 5 for the 8. He gave me a detailed and in-depth answer which, basically, said yes.”
Meanwhile, what of Katherine Grainger’s last partner?
Another recent GB retiree, Zac Purchase was not content with live-tweeting during the London Marathon (he completed the course in 3h55m). He’s now tweeting pics of his kid in action too.
Celtic god sighted in Putney
Single women will be beating a path to the Putney Embankment when they read about Stephen Feeney, a Celtic god, a giant among men.
Telegraph lifestyle writer Alice Smellie has had the pleasure of rowing in a double with Mr Feeney - who may make her feel "like a Lilliputian" but is actually a former international lightweight, who now splits his time between coaching the Kings College, Wimbledon J15s and running a team-building business called Team Dynamix.
After she has finished drooling, Ms Smellie sums the rowing stroke up thus: “Clearly one holds the oars when rowing and therefore it seems obvious that your arms are in charge of hoicking them through the water. This is not the case. Apparently, your entire body is working out, except for your arms.”
Hopefully that makes things clearer.
Twickenham takes time out
Twickenham Regatta normally takes place on Nat Schools weekend but the organisers have been forced to cancel this year’s event, in part because the entries they received were so diverse.
Many responded by bemoaning the over-bearing influence of regattas at Dorney Lake. Other river events both in the same area and further afield – I’ve been at Bedford and Thames Ditton regattas in the last few weeks – have been bursting at the seams, but they have been made up largely of junior crews so this weekend is never going to be an easy one.
If you have views on the British regatta scene, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or tweet with the hashtag #TheRowlup.
Looks like the Yale Bulldogs are on their way to Henley this year, with the University of Washington among their possible opponents in the Ladies Plate.
It isn’t immediately clear who is eligible for which Henley event (potentially Ladies, Temple and Thames respectively) but Leander, Oxford Brookes and Thames RC were involved in a real ding-dong battle at Ghent Regatta earlier this month. Brookes got revenge on the men in pink the following day, winning by a canvas.
Don't be Nottingham Trent. Stay out of lane 0 tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/e2WSSW6g0E— Unirowing (@Unirowing) May 1, 2015