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National Schools Regatta

The VIII delivered a victory for Eton by an incredible margin at Nottingham on Saturday. The analysis of times from the final are below:

   500  1000  1500  Finish  margin
 Eton  01:27.7  02:59.3  04:33.1  06:05.4  
 Abingdon  01:32.8  03:08.7  04:47.3  06:22.2  00:16.8
 Pangbourne  01:33.3  03:10.1  04:48.9  06:24.4  00:19.0
 Radley  01:39.6  03:12.6  04:51.2  06:25.6  00:20.2
 St Edward's  01:29.7  03:06.6  04:46.9  06:27.1  00:21.7
 Latymer Upper  01:33.8  03:12.0  04:52.9  06:32.2  00:26.8

There was never any doubt about the victors, but the race for second proved to be very exciting as St Edward's brave challenge for silver faded in the last few strokes as they let three schools slip past them. An unnamed and revered coach and spectator (not connected in any way to Eton) commented to me privately that  "I have not witnessed such dominance of a 2k event as I did with your boys on Saturday. I was not there on Sunday where I gather the 4- was equally dominant... Well done on thumping everyone...."

The crew were: Fletcher (PJMcK) cox, stroked by Louloudis KS (Coll), Pellew (MJLB), Evans, Captain of Boats (RPDF), Jopling (NJR), Hobhouse (RGGP), Balkwill (GRP), Monfared (MAG) and Nainby-Luxmoore mi (CMJ).
 
The manner of the victory was such that the crew felt little cause for public jubilation, as other teams celebrated at the end of the race. The weight of delivering a similar performance at Henley is pressing, and the campaign to bring back the Princess Elizabeth to home shores has started already. Shawnigan Lake School, who return four members of the same crew that won the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley last year, will return to England with that purpose in mind. The VIII will hope to avenge last year's defeat in the final and will carry the hopes of the Boat Club and College with them. I doubt that they will have been in a more pressurised environment as they focus on examinations for the next few weeks.

It would be easy to let this result overshadow the efforts of other crews, and it must not. Every crew that raced at Nottingham for Eton gave its level best, and every boy pulled for the glory of the team. This is the essence of the sport, win or loose. Other crews that won include the Second VIII coxed by Camm (PB), stroked by Auer (TEJN), Cooper (PB), Locke (NCWS), Scott OS (GRP), Faire (RPDF), Chapman (PJMcK), Lawson (RGGP) and Griffiths KS (Coll) coached by Ian Lawson, a senior international oarsman and first rate coach who has been helping since January with Upper Boats. For me, this was the most rewarding victory as they rowed through Shrewsbury's second VIII, which we believe to have been strengthened with one or two first VIII rowers, in the last 600m of the race. The Third VIII, coached by House Master RPDF raced extremely well to come second after trailing the leaders at halfway. Special mention here goes to Tom Woolf (CJD) who led this crew by example since returning from the wilderness in April.

In younger age categories both AJC's and Mr Rachel's Colts crews demonstrated their dominance of D block rowing. Whilst the A crew won a hard fought race by close to five seconds, Colts B's winning margin was even greater than that of The VIII. At Junior Colts level (E Block) we are playing catch-up with other programs who start competitive rowing at a much younger age. There was one glorious silver medal in VIIIs for LJH's 'B' crew. The 'A' crew reached the A final and finished in exactly the same position as their older crewmates in The VIII when they too were in JCA, as JRBS must have reminded them. From little acorns, mighty oak trees grow.

At the conclusion of the regatta, Eton's boat club topped the medal table as the most successful club.

DATE POSTED: 26 May 2009

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