Astounding success for St George's senior girls at Henley Royal Regatta qualifiers

Friday 29 June 2018 was a very special day for 4 young rowers aiming to qualify for the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.

One of the rowers, Avril, has written a detailed report about the qualifying race, giving some insight into the history of the Henley Royal Regatta and also how the day unfolded.

"Henley Royal Regatta (HRR) is possibly the most prestigious event on the rowing calendar, the most anticipated and also the most frustrating. The latter sentiment coming from the fact that each event has a limited number of entries to allow the 5 day regatta to run smoothly. Despite training and aiming to race, crews in most events have to perform a time trial on the Friday before the regatta in order to qualify and actually race in the main regatta. This frustration was the purview of male rowers, but since 1975 women have been allowed to cox at HRR and following changes in International rowing distances and a few experimental races, women’s events have been gradually added to the programme since 1993 and equality reached in 2016. The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup for under 18 girls was first raced in 2012.

Henley Royal is a gruelling course, coming in at 2112 metres, an additional 112 metres on the normal Race distance, and rowed on a course delineated by the famous white, wooden booms – which requires expert steering to avoid a race defining crash.

So, with much jubilation at 19:35 on Friday 29 June, the Senior Girls’ quadruple scull crew heard the tannoy crackles of “Henley, Latymer Upper, Glasgow……St Georges College” as the qualifying crews were announced. We had done it; only the second ever SGC girls' crew to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta (the other being 2015). It was an indescribable moment of excitement and joy at the pay-off for all the hard work we had put in.

9 months earlier, saw the start of the school year, but more importantly for the ‘rower’, the start of the gruelling winter’s training; pitch black nights on the Thames, and freezing cold morning outings.

Many schools train for this category of boat all year. In recent years, girls’ rowing has exploded in volume with schools moving up to three terms of rowing and clubs such as Henley RC hosting the sport for girls from a huge hinterland, meaning they acquire a competitive senior squad of 30 girls compared to our 10 loyal senior rowers.

During the summer, regattas were won and lost. However, every outing and race came with a lesson that would come to help us during our time trial down that infamous Henley course. When we boated on Friday, we had behind us what we call “money in the bank” - a year of intense training, Sunday sessions and the prayers of the Josephites thanks to Father Martin during the St Peter and Paul mass, which also took place on Friday. We went on to show that as a young crew consisting of a Fourth Year, Fifth Year, Lower Sixth and 1 Upper Sixth, we had the capability to row 2112 metres without crashing. The real question was, would it be fast enough?

Time ticked by very slowly. After warming down and having a crew talk, the wait began. It seemed like hours but was only 25 minutes until that tannoy sprang into life and we heard ‘The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup (our event)’.

We look forward to our heat on Thursday July 5 - where we will be facing off against Henley B in round 1. We must not forget to thank our parents who have dropped off, picked up and supported us throughout the season, and also many thanks to our hardworking coach, Mr. Walters, who has put so much time and thought into the process of sculling which helps us perform to our best."

2 July 2018

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