Greenbank Ladies make History

Greenbank crew

From Greenbank Falmouth Rowing Club:

Cornwall’s first ladies rowing crew to compete at the world famous Henley Women’s Regatta returned home delighted with their result, after a weekend of gruelling battles against crews from around the world. The crew, consisting of Helen Britton (cox), Jo Beardshaw (stroke), Kate Conway, Jackie George and Tina Pascoe (bow) had been training for many months with Henley in their sights.  Coach Brian Gamet was delighted with their result, which was entirely unexpected: ‘I hoped that they would qualify for the regatta at the time trials on the Friday but it would have been wildly optimistic of me to hope that they would get through to the last 16 – I knew that the crews they would be up against are all superb oarswomen who have trained together throughout schools and universities.’

After a tough draw at Reading last weekend, which saw the girls eliminated in the first round against a strong Bristol City crew, the girls bounced back with a focused and determined week of training, and fresh hopes for success in the Henley qualifying race on the Friday.  After a four hour journey up to Henley on the Thursday evening the boat was rigged and prepared for an early morning row.  With the  significance of the event finally a reality as the boat was tied down for the evening amongst a sea of literally hundreds of 4’s, 8’s, pairs and singles, the girls headed back to their accommodation to grab what little sleep they could on the eve of probably the biggest event in a female club rowers calendar.

Under the dawn of a clear sky and only a slight breeze, the girls boated for a quick row of the course to get the cox fully acquainted with all the landmarks and the point at which she would call for the final push for home.  At 8am on the dot, Helen steered the boat back alongside the launching pontoons, into the able hands of Matt Pinsent.

With 60 crews from around the country and indeed the world, only 32 would row the 1500 metres fast enough to earn the right to row in the first round of Henley women’s regatta that evening.  The Greenbank girls did it!!

It was a truly spirited and gutsy row which saw the girls beat many strong university and school crews for their place in the Lester Trophy, pulling off the best row together as a crew in the last four months of training.  So, the first round saw them pitted against Imperial College.  After a slight show of concern on hearing the draw, thoughts of the competition where eliminated from the minds and all the focus was channelled into their own boat. 

It worked – not only did the girls pull off yet another great row, they beat Imperial College by 4 lengths. Down to the final 16 and another day of competition, a fairly early night was had and with a 3:30 pm race, a fairly late and relaxed morning was also the order of the day.  Bedford High School had pulled off the fastest first round time of all the crews the previous day and were now drawn to meet the girls.  After a strong start, it was the exceptionally well drilled Bedford crew who managed to etch out a narrow lead coming off Temple Island.  This was enough to give them the physiological advantage which they maintained throughout, even after a courageous fight back from the girls who pushed Bedford all the way not allowing them a second to ease their own rate or pressure.

The girls were constantly approached by rowers and spectators as their kit, emblazoned with ‘Cornwall’ was so eye catching.  Many people had links to Cornwall or were born in the County and were so proud that Cornwall was represented in such a prestigious event.

The girls will now begin their training for next year.