This weekend is possibly the busiest in the rowing calendar. Whilst the senior international boys and girls are getting one of the few opportunities in the year to race – in this instance the 2nd World Cup at Aiguebelette in France (and I’ve written a preview of that), the non-international men are gearing up for Henley Royal Regatta with the biggest pre-Henley regatta; Marlow at Eton Dorney (And I’ll be writing a preview on that too). But, it’s the women rowers who have their biggest regatta of the season – Henley Women’s Regatta.
I don’t intend to write a preview of every event, but I’ll do my best to give an overview of the entries of the Elite and Junior events.
so….here we go…
Just 4 scullers, and no really “big” names of the rowing world. But those that have entered are exciting young prospects and are very likely to become the “big” names of the future.
Leading the bunch is Great Britain’s first ever openweight 1X world champion – Hollingworth Lake’s Junior World Champion Jess Leyden. Still a teenager Jess is a prodigious talent and will, no doubt, be targeting the U23 World Championships later this year. So far this season she has a win in the Elite 1X at The Metropolitan Regatta. She has competed for Leander as well as her home club Hollingworth Lake in Greater Manchester. Indeed, at the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours Leyden competed for Leander along with her main competitor in this event Rachel Gamble-Flint (along with senior internationals Rosa Bradbury and Monica Relph). Rachel is the most experienced of the competitors in the event with 2 Junior and 3 U23 World Championship vests including an “A” final finish in the U23 single scull in 2012. She won her first senior international vest at the 1st World Cup in 2012 finishing 10th in the W1X. She also narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Olympics in the W1X (which ended up being the only boat class which did not have a GB representative at the home Olympics). Since 2012 Gamble-Flint’s career has taken a bit of a knock due to injury. But, she’s fighting her way back and a place at Rio 2016 cannot be ruled out (which goes for Leyden as well….who knows, maybe they will be the W2X for 2020!?)
These two obviously know each other well and raced against each other at the GB trials. Leyden finishing 6th in the “A” final and Gamble-Flint 4th in the “B” final. But for my money there’s less to choose between the two of them than this result suggests (Rachel’s time in her “B” final was actually 10 seconds faster than Jess’)
The third competitor is Elizabeth Polegreen from the Wallingford Rowing Club High Performance Centre. She’s a highly talented sculler on the domestic scene and was 5th in Elite 1X at the Metropolitan Regatta, 4th at Wallingford and finished 4th in the LW1X at the GB Long Distance Trials in December. She may find the pace of the two GB athletes a little too hot.
The final entrant is the sole overseas representative, Yvonne Janse of DSRV Laga Holland. Janse raced in the Dutch U23 W8 in 2012 winning a bronze medal. Janse was also part of the Dutch W4- that raced at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan
The draw should result in a Leyden v Gamble-Flint final at it’ll be a very tight race. I think the Jess will just shade it from Rachel.
Edit: Heard a rumour that Gamble-Flint has had a recurrance of a back injury and will not be racing this weekend
7 scullers. As with the openweight version, this event contains a reigning world champion – Brianna Stubbs won the U23 LW2X title last year with Eleanor Piggott. Both these two also won their first senior international vest as GB2 at the 2nd World Cup at Eton last year finishing an excellent 4th. In the single scull Stubbs finished 6th at the final GB trials. She’s definitely one of the GB squad’s “Young Guns” and will be pushing for more senior representative accolades in the run-up to Rio and beyond.
Up against Stubbs are a host of U23 internationals. Emily Craig of the University of London won a bronze medal as part of the GB U23 LW4X in 2013. She is also no stranger to winning at Henley taking two titles last year in the Elite 4X and elite LWT 4X. She is also reigning British U23 LW2X champion and beat Stubbs at the final GB trials.
Another GB U23 international racing this event is Lottie Burgess of Reading University. She’s a two-time U23 international in 2011-12. In 2011 shes was 5th in the LW4X and in 2012 she was in the LW2X with Eleanor Piggott that won the “B” Final. So far this season she has a 2nd place finish at Wallingford Regatta behind Debbie Flood.
The 4th U23 international racing is Beci Humphreys of Tideway Scullers School. Her U23 representation came in 2011 as part of the LW4X that finished 5th. She competed in the December trials finishing 12th. This season she has a 3rd place finish at Wallingford and a 2nd place at Ghent.
7th at the December trials was Leander’s Fran Rawlins. She represented England at the Home International Regatta winning gold. She also won gold in the LW1X at Ghent (beating Beci Humphreys into 2nd).
Yasmin Marks of Nottingham hasn’t yet won any international honours but she competed strongly at the final GB trials finishing 10th. This season she has a 5th place finish in the SEN 1X at the Metropolitan Regatta.
The final entry in this division is the sole overseas entry, Ireland’s Siobhan McCrohan from the Tribesman club. She is the eldest and most experienced of all the competitors. She has made her international debut at the 2nd World Cup back in 2007. In 2010 she finished 4th in the LW2X at the European Championships and was 17th at the World Championships that year.
I think this is going to be a very close event. The Draw has McCrohan v Burgess. Craig v Stubbs and Humphreys v Marks with Fran Rawlins getting a bye. I’m picking a final of Stubbs v Rawlins with Stubbs emerging the winner.
12 British and one French crew in the line-up. The pick of the pairs is likely to be the Bath University/Imperial College composite of Georgia Francis and Sam Courty. These two raced together at the Senior GB trials making the “A” final. This season they raced together on the Saturday of the Metropolitan Regatta winning Elite 2- by nearly 20 seconds. Francis was part of the GB squad that raced at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and they will be strong contenders for a place on the GB U23 team this year.
2nd on both days at the Metropolitan regatta were the Thames pairing of Emma Windham and Sophie Slaney. Windham is a former Oxford Blue and raced at the World University Rowing championships in 2008. Slaney is a former winner of the Pairs head and currently works for British Rowing on the Explore Rowing project.
The Lea have a strong pair at Henley with Amanda Benson-Skailes and Bridgit Snaith. They were winners of the Senior 2- category on the Saturday of the Metropolitan regatta and runners-up to a Cambridge University pair on the Sunday. Snaith was part of a strong Lea crew that won Intermediate Club 8’s at Henley last year.
The most experienced pair competing are the veteran composite of Tideway scullers School and Kingston Rowing Club, Kate Grose and Andrea Finn. Grose represented GB at the Olympics in both 1992 and 1988. she made her international debut for GB back in 1986 (before most of her opposition were born!) But they are fearsome racers and as a pair won the Masters category at the pairs head.
At the other end of the age range are the French. A composite from Grenoble and Lyon. Lea Duret is 19 and raced in the Junior women’s coxless four that finished 11th at the World Championships in 2011. Her partner, Claire Chanut, is only 17 and also finished 11th in the JW4- at the World Championships this time in 2013. This may well be the potential U23 W2- for France.
Winners of Elite 2- at the Met on Sunday were the Durham University pairing of Trude Meyer and Hanna Gallis Inntjore (although I’m not certain that this is the Durham pair for Henley). Assuming it is this pairing they will post a strong challenge. They are both Norwegian and were their countries pair at the U23 World Championships in 2012 finishing 5th and again last year where they finished 8th.
The draw has Durham and Bath/Imperial potentially meeting in the 2nd round which should see some sparks fly.
I’m going to go for a Bath/Imperial v Grenoble/Lyon final whith the British duo comming out on top.
Edit: I’ve now been told that the Durham pair is not the Norwegian’s (who are racing domestically for U23 selection), but is the pair that won Intermediate 2- at the BUCS regatta.
Elite Lightweight 2-
6 pairs. Not much info to go on I’m afraid. Exeter University’s pairing of Imogen Mackie and Hannah Traylen won IM1 2- at the Met. Mackie learnt to row in Exeter and has trialed for the GB Junior team and Traylen has trialed for GB.
The Irish pairing from Cork BC, Anna Wickham and Fran Judge have been selected as their nationas LW2- for the Home International Regatta and were 4th in IM1 at the Met behind Exeter.
The Germans from Bremer are an unknown quantity but I expect them to be quick and probably national trialists.
The draw would suggest an Exeter v Bremer final and without knowing anything about the Germans I’ll plump for Exeter.
6 crews. lots of composites in this event with various combinations being tried out for the U23 squad.
The Molesey/Leander/Agecroft/Nottingham combination of Laura Wheeler, Katherine Douglas, Karen Bennett and Becca Chin won elite 4- on saturday of the Met regatta beating the 2nd GB composite from Imperial/Exeter and Leander (Helen Wood, Pippa Burnham, Michelle Vezie and Pippa Whittaker) into 2nd by the considerable margin of 16 seconds.
The Cambridge/Molesey/Nottingham composite (Katie Bartlett, Claire Watkins, Amber Anderson & Mel Wilson) also raced at the Met (although with UWE’s Margery Pepper instead of Mel Wilson) and finished 3rd.
The German composite from Bremer are also in this event and have 3 of the crew from Bremer University that won the recent German University championships (Weibke Schuett, Julia Struebig and Judith Maurer) joined by Bremer Ruderclub’s Ann-Kathrin Weber.
The Irish also have a composite (national University/Thames RC/Cork BC) in this event with what looks to be their U23 4- (Aifric Keogh and Emily Tormley 4th in the U23 4- last year, Barbara O’Brien from Thames and Marie O’Neil from Cork). This combination were due to race at the Met but scratched.
Thames are the only non-composite in the event with a crew of Abby Johnston, Helena Green, Charley Phillips and Harriet Broad. They will be a quick crew but they face the German’s in the first round which is a tough draw.
I think it’ll be a Bremer v MDC/LDR/AGE/NRC final with the British composite coming out on top.
a straight final between the likely British and French U23 crews. The British, racing as Gloucester Hartpury/Northwich/Tees/Portora consist of Joesephine Wratten, Holly Nixon, Lucy Burgess and Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne.
Joe Wratten was part of the GB W8 that won silver at the U23 World championships last year. Holly Nixon of Portora rowed for Irleand at the Junior World Championships in 2011 winning a silver medal in the 1X, and then in the U23 W2X that came 7th in 2012. Now part of the GB set-up she’ll be looking to win her first GB vest at this year’s U23’s. Lucy Burgess of Northwich rowed for GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and has 2 GB Junior world Championship vests to her credit. Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne is part of the Gloucester Hartpury high performance academy that are making a real impact on junior rowing in Britain. This quartet won elite quads at the Met.
The French composite of Grenoble/Caen & D’Avignon, are all lightweights and are doubling up in the Elite Lightweight Quad event as well. Consisting of Margeux Segrais, Laura Tarantola, Marion Coffignez and Agathe Pichon, they have considerable international experience. Segrais raced at the European Championships last year and Coffignez and tarantola are both former junior internationals.
It’s a straight final and I think the British should win comfortably.
Elite Lightweight Quads.
3 crews. as mentioned above the French composite are also in this event. They face Marlow RC in the first round, and I’m not certain at this point of the Marlow line up (possibly the crew that were 4th in their heat of IM1 4X at the Met – I’m sure someone will let me know!)
The third crew in the event are another GB composite: Reading Uni/Exeter/Agecroft/Newcastle Uni (Ellie Lewis, Jess Elkington, Gemma Hall & Lucy Cruxton. Most of this quartet have international experience, Lewis & Hall are both U23 bronze medalists, and Lucy Cruxton raced at the australian Youth Olympic festival. Only Elkington has yet to win an international vest, a situation likely to change this season following a strong performance at the GB trials.
For my money the GB composite will be too strong for the French.
5 crews…1 French, 2 British and 2 American.
The French are an U23 development composite from 6 clubs, Grenoble/Nantes/Lyon/LeHarvre/Boulogne/Evian. They have 3 of the Frdench U23 4- that finished 11th and last in 2013 (Adele Lauwick, Maylis Schepers & Flavie Bahuaud). The other experienced U23 onboard are Charlene Malaboeuf (5th W8 2010). There are also 3 former junior internationals making the step up into the U23 ranks – Clementine Garde (12th JW4 2012), and Amelie Jacquier Ann-Elise Communal (11th JW4X 2011-12).
The first GB crew is also an U23 development composite racing as Molesey/Leander/Imperial/Agecroft/Nottingham/Exeter. This is the two U23 Elite 4-‘s combined – Helen Wood, Pippa Burnham, Laura Wheeler, Pippa Whittaker, Michelle Vezie, Becca Chin, Karen Bennett & Katherine Douglas. They are joined by para-lympic champion cox Lily Van den Broecke. This combination raced in the Challenge 8’s at the Metropolitan regatta and finished 2nd.
The crew that beat them were the 2nd British crew in the draw; Oxford University Women’s Boat Club. Oxford totally dominated the Boat Race and have put together an extremely strong crew. It’s great to see them continuing into the summer season. They are definitely “building the brand” ahead of the move to the Tideway in 2015. The race against the U23 Development 8 at the Met was very tight and these crews are pretty evenly matched.
There are two American universities racing the elite division…the Yale Bulldogs and Drexel Dragons.
Yale were 6th at the Ivy League Championships last month 17 seconds behind the winners from Princeton. The likely line up includes Maddie Lips who raced as the US U23 1X at the World Championships last year and Abbie Young who has a world junior championships bronze medal.
Drexel, from Philadelphia, won a silver medal at the Dad Vail championships behind the University of Massachusetts. There likely line-up are all US based athletes and have yet to gain any international honours. Of the two US crews, Yale certainly look the stronger.
The Draw pits Drexel against the French, with the winners facing the GB composite. Oxford face Yale in the first round. I’m going to pick an Oxford v GB composite final with the composite just squeaking ahead of the Blues.
So that’s it for the Elite events. I’ll do my best to look at the Senior and possibly the Junior events tomorrow…