National Schools Regatta
The recent National Schools Regatta was held at Dorney Lake this year having relocated from its traditional venue in Nottingham. The wonderful weather and possibly the new location created a fantastic atmosphere for three days of high quality racing and all our crews acquitted themselves extremely well. Our three Shell crews were in action first with both our boys and girls racing. The Shell boys’ A crew have had a really strong term so far and were looking forward to the regatta but for whatever reason didn’t quite perform at their peak. They were still faster than good crews from Hampton and Bedford but finished with a ranking of 15th in the country. They will have better days ahead but will have learnt a lot about the pressures of performing on the big day. Our Shell girls have taken huge strides forward in recent weeks and raced very creditably to finish 15th overall. With the majority of the crew combining netball and rowing during the Spring Term they were playing catch up this term and have done really well to race so competitively with so little time to prepare. They are a crew with a huge amount of promise. The highlight of the day came from our J14 B crew who became the first St Edward’s J14B crew to reach the national final. They raced superbly throughout the early rounds and were in contention for a medal in the final until an unlucky mistake pushed them back with around 200m to go. A national ranking of 6th place is a great achievement and they should be very proud to achieve something that has not been done by a Shell B crew from St Edward’s before.
After the Shells had opened the regatta on the Friday, the bulk of the racing took place on the Saturday and St Edward’s had four VIIIs entered. Our Fourth Form crews have been performing very strongly this year and both were aiming to reach the final in their events. The boys were desperately disappointed to just miss out on qualification for the final by 0.3 of a second but produced a barnstorming performance to win the B final and finish with a national ranking of eighth. Their time in the B final would have placed them 5th in the A final which confirmed their bad luck in just failing to qualify. The J15 girls were bidding to become the first Fourth Form girls VIII to reach the final at National Schools. The margins were always going to be extremely tight and so the pressure was on. They produced two incredibly strong rows to achieve their aim, out-qualifying Lady Eleanor Holles School to secure the final spot in the final by 0.3 of a second. The enthusiastic Teddies supporters on the bank were extremely proud of their efforts in achieving this historic first and their final ranking of 7th in the country is a big step forward for girls’ rowing at St Edward’s.
Our two 1st VIII’s have been racing this year with the aim of becoming the first co-ed school to reach the final in both girls’ and boys’ Championship Eights. Our girls eight have made a big step forward this year and so hopes were high that this could be achieved. They raced incredibly well throughout the day but were desperately unlucky to just miss out by one place in their semi. Their frustration was compounded by the fact they were actually the 8th fastest eight in the event and so would have qualified for the final if they had been drawn in the other semi. Such is life and they should be very pleased with their efforts. They have moved girls’ rowing forward this year and we can hopefully improve again next year.
The boys’ 1st VIII knew that qualification for the final would be incredibly tight with the margins between the top 10 crews in the country being so small. Two big rowing schools were going to miss out on the final and so a perfect performance in the semi-final was required. Our boys delivered with an excellent row that ensured qualification with Abingdon and Shrewsbury the two big names to miss out. Their final position of 8th in the final doesn’t tell the whole picture as the margins from 4th to 8th were very small indeed and they now turn their attention to Henley in a few weeks’ time.
On the final days’ racing at the event we had two crews entered, a boys’ coxed four which formed our senior 2nd boat and half of the girls’ VIII which raced in championship coxless fours. The boys raced well in the time trial to qualify for the semi-finals but, racing against several schools’ top boats, weren’t able to make the final finishing with a final ranking of 12th. The girls also just missed out on the final of their event but rounded off the regatta with a great win in their B final to finish with a final ranking of 8th.
Across the regatta it was great to see so many crews race so competitively with both the boys and the girls making finals and my thanks go to both the catering team, who looked after the supporters so well, and also to those who came in support and made the atmosphere such a positive one.