Spring has officially graced us with its presence; the clocks have moved, the days are getting lighter, and the first full head season in three years has wrapped up. Not only have we seen the usual cluster of races unfold, but there have also been shifts within the British Rowing leadership team, and a few weeks ago the Boat Race made it back to the Tideway once more.
To start with February, we saw the appointments of Vincent Gaillard and Andrew Randell as the New World Rowing Executive Director and GB women’s Head Coach, respectively. Both of them bring a wealth of experience to the positions. Andrew Randell made the move over from Australia, where he has been coaching national crews since 1995, notably the Aussie women’s quad that got bronze in Tokyo. His appointment means that British Rowing have officially filled all of their high-performance vacancies. Only time will tell how successful everyone will prove to be.
The early months of the year also saw a new wave of retirements, with Jack Beaumont and Mat Tarrant announcing their retraction from rowing. The inimitable Hamish Bond, who collected his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo last summer, has also retired from the sport. More recently, Angus Groom, fresh from his success with Oxford at The Boat Race, has announced his departure from international racing. They will all leave substantial gaps in the rowing world, and we wish them well!
Racing-wise, we had a packed schedule that did not disappoint; BUCS Head, Schools’ Head of the River, Women’s Head of the River, Head of the River and the Junior Scullery Head all happened within three weeks of each other, and each one brought some excellent racing.
At BUCS, Newcastle, Durham and Edinburgh came out on top at university level. Although they were absent at BUCS, there were outstanding performances from Oxford Brookes at both WeHORR and HORR.
Similarly, the Henley women’s junior eight won at both WeHORR and SHORR, with other good junior girls results coming from Shiplake in both the girl’s quads and the school eights.
On the boy’s side, it was the astonishing boys squad at the Windsor Boys who really impressed, taking wins at SHORR and the Scullery. Shiplake won the boy’s championship eights at SHORR whilst Reading Blue Coat took First Eights. Going into the summer season and with the National Schools’ Regatta looming at the end of May, there should be some excellent racing.
The Boat Race was next up, and it was great to see it back on the Thames after a year out. This year, it was even across all four races, with Cambridge dominating the women’s first and second races and Oxford men doing the same. There was some classic Boat Race drama with intense steering from Jasper Parish in the Cambridge Women’s Blue Boat, and overall the two races did not disappoint.
Coming up next in the calendar is BUCS regatta at the end of April, and a full regatta season looks very likely. We will once again see more international crews making the trip over for the latter half of June, with Metropolitan, Marlow and Henley Royal Regatta all falling in this period. Finally, the juniors will flood to Eton for National Schools’, and we will see who has made the successful transition from winter to summer training. Overall, it has been a great season, and the fun isn’t over just yet!
words by Junior Rowing News
photo by Rosie Percy