A select group of Scullers members went up to Nottingham for the British Rowing Championships, and were greeted with wet weather in abundance - most people brought their wellies.
Racing on the Friday in the Junior boys' events were Ben B and Ollie in J15 doubles and singles. Their double qualified for the final; Ollie qualified for the A final in his single and Ben B qualified for the B final. The next day, Ollie succeeded in winning the single by an impressive six seconds while Ben raced well to come second in the B final. The boys then proceeded to win the double by two seconds in a brilliant round-off to an excellent season for the whole group.
Ellie H had also raced on Friday, in J15 girls singles. With eighteen entries over three heats, a win was required to qualify straight for the final. Ellie just missed out on this, coming second in her heat and therefore through to the repechage later that afternoon. She raced well, coming second and therefore qualifying for the final the next day. Although in strong contention for a medal in the early stages of the race, Ellie came in in fourth place, just missing out on a bronze medal.
The Junior women had sent four other boats to race: Maxie in J18 singles, Flora and Isabel F in J18 doubles, Katherine and Jackie in J18 pairs (racing up two years!) and a coxless four of Maxie, Flora, Katherine and Jackie. Maxie raced first on Saturday morning, winning her heat. Next the pair raced, coming 4th in a strong heat of older girls, putting them into the repechage. However, the time-tabling of races meant that as soon as they had landed in the pair it was time to jump into the coxless four as the race was only half an hour later. Although the four raced well, the standard of competition was too high for our younger crew to compete with, and we came in last. Although we could still have got through to the repechage, it was decided to scratch the four to concentrate on the small boats the next day. On disembarking from the four, Flora immediately ran over to the double Issy had readied on the landing stage and off she went for her next race. They raced very well but the quick changeover between races, as well as Isabel’s cold cost them as they lost out on a place in the repechage by 0.3 seconds.
Also on Saturday, the seniors began racing. Owing to the controversial reformatting of the championships, the only heavyweight senior events on offer were the single, pair and coxed four.
First up to race, though, was German Wunderkind Jason Osbourne in Junior singles. Having won Championship Singles at National Schools in impressive style, great things were expected and it was no surprise that he qualified for the A/B semi-finals. Next up was James Dunley in the open single. He also qualified for the A/B semis. Carrie Thomas, back in her single and TSS colours, raced in the heats of women's open single and was on terms with several other scullers for much of the race, but was rowed through in the last 500. Rounding off the day for the seniors were Ben Crouch and Jonathan Williams in u23 singles. Both raced well to qualify for the semi-finals, with Jonathan taking great pleasure in beating two tab lightweights. Ben was second in his eliminator and Jonathan won his, hoping for a better lane the next day.
On Sunday, the infamous Nottingham wind, which had been a gentle tailwind the past two days, swung around to present a stiff cross-headwind and causing the organisers to switch the lane draw to echelon, with lane 6 being the favoured lane. Jason, as one of the two fastest from the time trial (we assume), was seeded into this lane, and had a comfortable scull to win his semi-final. Next up were Jonathan and Ben in the U23 single. Cruel fate (or possibly just the organisers) had drawn them into the same semi final. Jonathan had been seeded in lane 6, whereas Ben had lane 3. Both sculled well; Jonathan won the race and Ben was fifth. Next up was James, who got through to the A final with a comfortable margin.
Soon afterwards, Jason was up again in his single. This time, he actually raced as fast as he could and won by twelve seconds in an overwhelming display of skill and speed. Jason was very disappointed not to have gained selection for the Junior Worlds this year, but he has a bright future ahead of him and we will be watching his career with interest. Next was Jonathan’s final. He did what he could, but was beaten into second place by a stronger, older athlete from Brookes. He did gain some satisfaction from beating Mr Tonnar from Molesey. The two of them had got exactly the same time in a GB time trial earlier in the year, resulting in the two of them having to race in the C/D finals instead of A/B. As the Spanish say, revenge is a dish best served cold.
Of the girls, the pair of Jackie and Katherine raced first, in their repechage. They had a very good race, although not getting through to the final they raced well against the older girls, being in second place off the start and coming in in 3rd place; beating two crews of older girls. After this, it was Maxie’s turn to race her final. Thankfully, due to her good results in the heat, she was given lane 5, giving her a good chance in the wind. Although still affected by her slow start she managed to row through several scullers ahead of her, coming second to a quick sculler from Lea.
The coxed four of Adam Lodygowski, Nathan O’Reilly, Murray Wilkojc, Tom Wheeler and Zoe Davies had their race next. In an event that had gone down from eight entries to four, they were pipped at the line by Durham to come third by three feet. Stroke Adam’s comment was that they had been racing up a headwind all season and they should probably be used to it by now.
In the penultimate race of the regatta, Jimbo had his final. With increased wind and a bad lane, he raced well, but came in sixth in a time that was a full minute slower than his semi-final that morning.
The combined medal tally for the weekend was three golds, two silvers and a bronze. Jonathan Williams was also selected to race the single and quad for England at the Home International Regatta, where he will be joined by Zoe Davies and Carrie Thomas, both representing Wales.