A few thoughts on the GB team for the Belgrade World Cup


The Great Britain squad for the 1st Rowing World Cup was announced at Caversham this week and revealed a few surprises in the fifty-four athletes that were named.

The biggest surprise of all was the decision by chief coach, Jurgen Grobler, to focus on the M8 instead of the M4-. Speaking at the press conference at Caversham Grobler said the motivation for concentrating on the M8 was in response to a disappointing performance in 2017 when the 8 finished outside of the A Final.

The men’s sculling squad is ridiculously talented at the moment, World M1X medallist Tom Barras moves into the M4X with Jack Beaumont teaming up with Angus Groom, in what Jurgen Grobler called a “new old crew”. These two first raced together at the junior World Championships in 2010. Beaumont is excited to be back in the double with Groom and said “although this may be a sideways move [from the quad], the squad is so strong that we fully expect to win medals in both the double and the quad. The quad is probably the no.1 GB men’s boat and certainly is the one that has the best chance of winning gold in Belgrade.


Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom – back in the M2X together

Replacing Barras as the men’s single sculler is 22 year old Harry Leask, The Leander sculler made his senior debut at the 1st World Cup last year but has stepped up this season taking a superb 2nd place at the GB Trials.

The M2- is a young crew with George Rossiter and Harry Glenister. Rossiter makes his senior debut following 4 years on the U23 team from 2011 to 2014. Glenister made his senior debut in 2017 racing in a 2nd M4X at the 1st World Cup.

GB have entered two crews in the M4-  with Rio Olympic champion Tom Ransley leading the GBR1 boat along with 2016 World Champion Callum McBrierty and Harvard graduate Ross Jarvis and Cal Berkeley graduate Morgan Hellen. The 2nd GB M4- also includes two US educated athletes with Jacob Dawson from the University of Washington and James Johnston from Harvard, the final member of the crew is Adam Neill who made his senior debut in the M8 last season.

As mentioned above, Jurgen Grobler has moved last year’s bronze medal winning M4- into the stern of the new M8. Willl Satch, Matt Tarrant, Al Sinclair and Mo Sbihi are joined by Ollie Wynne-Griffith (who subbed into the M4- at the last minute for the World Championships semi final). Also in the boat is Josh Bugajski, putting the disappointment of being dropped from the Oxford Blue Boat by winning his first senior international vest. The final two members of the crew are former international Triathlete, Tom Jeffrey, and Newcastle University’s James Rudkin. The boat is coxed by Henry Fieldman.

In the men’s lightweight events, GB look to be continuing their tradition of not selecting the winner of Trials into an Olympic class boat! Jamie Copus, who produced a superb race to win trials, has been selected to race the LM1X. Grobler (who has now taken over the men’s Lightweight squad from Paul Thompson) did stress that selection is by no means finalised. Speaking to Copus after his selection was announced he stressed how excited he was to test himself in the LM1X, especially going up against the big names in the field like Peter Galambos, Rajko Hrvat and Michael Schmid.

GB have chosen two LM2X, with the lead biat being Zak Lee-Green and Sam Mottram. Mottram raced with Copus in the LM2X last year finishing 10th, and Lee-Green took silver in the LM4X. In the 2nd GB boat are James Temple and Gavin Horsburgh. Temple makes his senior debut following a 4th place in the U23 LM4X last year and Horsburgh was in the senior LM4X that won silver last year.

In the women’s events the team is spearheaded by Vicky Thornley in the W1X. The world silver medallist is coming out of a really tough winter’s training, but definitely feels she’s moved on from last year and has, in her words “improved the engine”.


World W1X silver medallist Vicky Thornley

Thornley is the sole representative for the openweight women’s sculling squad. Injury and illness has meant there is no quad or double for the first World Cup. For the sweep events a number of athletes are doubling up. There are two W2- racing in Belgrade, the lead boat is Anastasia Chitty and Rebecca Girling and are also the bow pair of the W8. The pair raced together at the 1st World Cup last year finishing 6th. The 2nd crew are both making their senior international debuts, Emily Ford and Emily Ashford. Ford was a member of the U23 BW8 that won silver in 2016 and Ashford makes her first international appearance.

As with the men’s 4- event, there are two GB women’s fours racing in Belgrade. The first is Caragh McMurtry, Rebecca Chin, Jo Wratten and Sara Parfett. McMurtry was in the W4- at last year’s worlds with Chin and Wratten from the W8 last year and Parfett who was the spare for last year’s Worlds.

The 2nd W4- are all doubling-up in the W8. Fiona Gammond, Holly Norton, Karen Bennett & Rebecca Shorten. All four of these athletes were in the W8 last year. Speaking to Bennett at the press conference she’s excited at the prospect of doubling-up, especially now that the W4- is an Olympic class event as it “will give a chance to see were the event is at”.

Joining these four in the W8 are the W2- of Chitty and Girling and Hattie Taylor and Rowan Mckellar. Taylor is a graduate of Syracuse Universiy and McKellar studies at Cal Berkeley. Both of these athletes raced in the W4- at the Lucerne World Cup last year. The boat is coxed by Matilda Horn.

As with the lightweight men, there is a lightweight single and two lightweight doubles racing in Belgrade, Cambridge University Blue Imogen Grant gets the singles slot following an excellent 3rd place at Trials. In the no.1 LW2X are Ellie Piggott and Emily Craig. Both of these scullers became world champions in the LW4X in 2016 and Piggott followed that up with a 4th place in the dsame event last year. Craig partnered Kat Copeland to win silver at the 2017 European Championships and a 5th place at the World Championships. The 2nd LW2X boat is Elisha Lewis and Fran Rawlins. Lewis is an U23 bronze medallist and was the lightweight spare for last year’s World Championships. Rawlins makes her senior international debut in Belgrade after a strong performance at trials saw her take 5th place.

With the full entries now being released for the 1st World Cup it’ll be fascinating to see where this new-look GB squad sits against some of its main rivals. But, as Jurgen Grobler stressed at the team announcement, the focus is on building crews that can qualify for the Olympics by performing at the 2019 World Championships, everything that happens between now and then is simply a stepping stone. Having said that, when pushed to give an indication of a target for medals in Belgrade, the expectation is a relatively modest 3. We shall see how they get on.