For the first time in nine years the 2nd VIII successfully made it through the qualifying races for the Temple Challenge Cup; the Sabrina crew raced in the Thames Challenge Cup for the second time in three years; and the 1st VIII raced in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup.
The 1st VIII and 2nd VIII enjoyed a great training session together on the Tuesday afternoon before the Regatta started. The senior squad have had a fantastic camaraderie throughout the season and pushed each other hard, with nothing exemplifying this better than meeting each other in the final of open eights at Bedford Regatta. It was a tremendous way to end the season as they enjoyed a good meal together after the session.
On the Wednesday, the 2nd VIII took on a university crew from Orange Coast College, USA. Despite pushing them hard through the barrier, it was the stronger crew from the US that took the honours on the line. With 55 crews entered into the universities event, it was a tremendous achievement for the 2nd VIII to qualify.
In the Thames Cup, the Old Salopian Sabrina crew gave a spirited and determined performance against a strong Royal Chester crew, eventually losing by two lengths.
After their strong showing at the Marlow Regatta, the 1st VIII were delighted to be drawn amongst the first four crews for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup and thus avoid the other top three in the early rounds. On the Wednesday the crew were drawn against Great Marlow School in one of the last races of the day. With a 7pm start time, the crew were pleased to finally get on the water with a chance to banish the nerves that had built up through the day. In a commanding performance the 1st VIII drew away quickly off the start and held their two-length advantage through to the finish.
On Thursday afternoon the crew were up against Monmouth School. The 1st VIII once again got off to a very good start and settled into a strong rhythm to record a comfortable win and earn a spot in the quarter-finals.
On the Friday the 1st VIII met another selected crew in the form of Bedford School who had come 4th at the National Schools' Regatta. A tightly fought contest saw the 1st VIII take a small lead off the start which they maintained and used that cushion to respond to Bedford pushes down the course. The crew recorded a win by one length.
For the first time since 2010, the 1st VIII made it into the semi-finals at the Regatta, with the opportunity to race in front of a significant audience both of those attending the Regatta and many more watching live on BT Sport.
The semi-final saw a rematch of the Marlow Regatta final two weeks previously, where the 1st VIII had lost out by half a length to Eton College. With much anticipation, the 1st VIII took to the water with fantastic support from families and rowers past and present. The atmosphere was electric with the GB eight and Olympic sculling legend Mahe Drysdale warming the crowds in the two races prior to our own. The 1st VIII relished the opportunity and gave it their all. It was a nail-biting race, with both crews remaining in contact throughout the 2112m course. The 1st VIII tried desperately to overhaul Eton’s narrow advantage as they came past the crowds in the Steward's Enclosure, but disappointingly fell short by three-quarters of a length.
Well done to the 1st VIII and 1st VIII coach Mr Grant for a fantastic performance at the Regatta. Thank you to all the supporters and the many Salopians who sent in messages of support before the race.
The races can be viewed at the following links:
Athol Hundermark, Director of Rowing