Two Shrewsbury boys - George Patterson (R) and Toby Thomas (SH) - were selected to race in the GB under-16 eight in the annual fixture against France, which appropriately took place this year on Bastille Day.
The eight was a composite with boys from Hampton School and Eton College. The boys met up at Dorney Lake a week before the match for five days of intensive training to try and maximise the speed of the boat in the short time available.
Despite coming from three different schools, the eight bonded quickly and were soon producing promising times. They were also treated to the best weather of the year, which made Dorney feel like the South of France. Many thanks to Eton College, particularly the staff of Eton College Boat Club and Housemaster Mr Nick Sellers for kindly hosting the boys during this time.
The whole team (made up of 13 different boats) moved to Docklands in London on Thursday, and despite relatively rough water on the first day, the weather remained hot and calm from Friday onwards. The crew continued to produce ever more encouraging times in training, and the arrival of the French Team certainly sharpened the focus.
Sunday - match day. Racing got underway with the girls' eight, who beat their opposition by a canvas to start the British bandwagon rolling. The boys' eight was the last event, and by that time GB were already 10-2 up in the match overall. This mattered little to the eight, who wanted to round off their first international vest with a win. They got off the line well and pulled out a narrow lead, which they extended to a length by 500m. This remained the lead during the middle of the race as the French clung on to the stern of the British boat. Into the last 500m the strength of the GB boat shone through, and as the British piled on the power the French fell back for GB to win by 3 lengths.
Great Britain won the overall match 11-2.
All of the boys will now return to their respective schools intent on earning seats in top boats, which will see them facing each other on the start line next year. No doubt the friendships forged this week will make the racing even more fierce!