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Rowing - Summer Half report

After an excellent Upper Boats training camp in Portugal expectations for the regatta season were high, but sadly illness meant that The VIII could not race at Wallingford Regatta two weeks after returning to school. The Eton calendar would mean that no other regattas were possible before National Schools, and with illness a recurring theme throughout the entire Upper Boats squad, The VIII, and consequently the second and third eights, managed just two training outings in their final combinations before travelling to Nottingham. Were all the boys not so used to rowing in a squad system with each other, the severe disruption due to illness which the crews suffered would have been disastrous. Instead, the Upper Boats retained the second and third eight titles with both crews taking commanding leads in the early stages of their finals and going on to win comfortably.   The VIII, who had lost their stroke man to the bug that was decimating the squad, valiantly held their position of third, behind Westminster (gold) and St Pauls (silver) repeating the Schools’ Head results.
Our exceptionally hard working Colts group managed to equal the Upper Boats haul of two golds and a bronze on the Saturday, winning both J16 Championship VIIIs and J16 2nd VIIIs with the C crew achieving bronze in the 2nd VIIIs category.  This was a truly dominant performance by our Colts and was capped off with a third gold in J16 Championship coxless fours on the Sunday. Junior Colts also got in on the act, winning J15 2nd VIIIs and taking Eton’s tally for the weekend to six gold and two bronze medals. With this strength in depth the future of Eton rowing looks bright!
Coming off the back of such a successful National Schools Regatta morale was high within the ECBC with some of our top athletes returning from injury and illness to strengthen The VIII in time for Henley.  Other crews and combinations were also be re-jigged in an effort to equal or possibly even improve on the tremendous success at last year’s regatta where as well as winning the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup we managed to qualify two VIIIs in the Temple Challenge Cup. Things started well with two of the three Temple VIIIs qualifying in fine style for the regatta proper, only then to be drawn against selected crews in the first round. The VIII started its defence of the PE with comfortable wins over Monmouth School in the first round and Salisbury School, USA in the second round. However, in a very competitive field it came up against the National Champions from the USA, Gonzaga College High School, in the quarter final and despite leading to the Quarter Mile The VIII couldn’t quite match the power of the Americans through the middle of the race, losing in the end by just under a length. Gonzaga, perhaps still suffering after being pushed so hard by our boys, lost narrowly to Westminster School in the semi-final who in turn lost to an impressive St Paul’s School outfit in the final.

As well as the 27 current Etonians racing on this year’s regatta there was also a large contingent of OEs taking pasrt. Two of them won. Having finished his Finals at Oxford last month, Constantine Louloudis (Coll 2010) returned to the GB Men’s VIII and helped them record an emphatic victory over the Olympic Champions form Germany in the final of the Grand Challenge Cup. Ed Nainby- Luxmoore (CMJ 2011), winner of the PE in 2009 and 2010 with Constantine and his successor as Captain of the Boats, won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup with the University of Washington.

Back on the river in Eton the new boathouse at Rafts was a hive of activity all summer with large numbers of boys returning to Internal Rowing, which has been restructured slightly to accommodate the increasing number of boys opting to row in the summer of E block. The new system which gives Junior Colts the opportunity to train on the Olympic rowing lake and race in external events like BASHER II as well as train on the river and race in internal pulling and sculling events has worked very well and given more boys the opportunity to receive coaching and also compete in a wide variety of events. In the House Bumping Fours Guy Pooley’s held off a strong challenge from College to be crowned Head of the River for the seventh time with a  record of conceding just one bump in 52 rows, a quite staggering achievement. However, his boys’ success in Bumps  was not enough to  stop Alastair Chirnside’s and College respectively from wrestling away the Pooley Cup (formerly the Churchill Cup) and the Aquatics Cup from his grasp in his final year as House Master. 

With the half now over a number of boys are trialling for the Great British Rowing Teams for Coupe de la Jeunesse in Szeged, Hungary and the World Rowing Junior Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the beginning of August. Five of our Colts – Adams (RPDF), Austen OS (PGW), Drinkall (TEWH), Pearson ma KS and Shurman (MAG) – have already gained selection for the GB versus France Match that takes place in the Royal Albert Dock in London in mid-July. We wish them all the very best of luck!