Huge scores at West Region Schools Indoor Rowing Champs

Tuesday 4th March saw 371 pupils from 36 schools and colleges descend on University St Marks & St John in Plymouth for the Regional Schools Indoor Rowing Championships. The event also incorporated the Devon School Games Level 3 event. Results from each category were combined to give an overall ranking, as well as Devon-only results.

Competitors in Years 7-11 rowed for a set time depending on their age group, while year 12 and 13 rowed for 2,000m. As well as a ranking, rowers were given a percentage score, worked out from their Gold Medal Target.

The standard of the competition was very high, with almost all of the winners scoring over their Gold Medal Target. One of the most impressive scores of the day came in the Year 10 Boys’ race, with Hugo Culverhouse of Wadebridge School scoring a massive 106.29%. Silver and bronze went Ivybridge CC duo Travis Bramley (104%) and Luke Riou (100%).

Even more impressive was the Year 11 Girls’ race. Rebecca Butchart, Plymstock School and Plymouth ARC rower, was up against arch rival Alicia Parsons – a Devonport High school girl and national swimmer with little rowing experience. Alicia used her swimmers lungs and transferable fitness to set a new record with 1640m and 106.49%, Rebecca settling for silver with a PB of 100.52%.

The Year 11 Boys’ race followed suit, with Charlie White of Bideford College scoring a hugely impressive 106.40% score and 1830m. Charlie trains and rows at Bideford AAC, North Devon, and is now on the World Class Start rowing programme – which no doubt contributed towards his impressive performance.

The day’s younger rowers in Year 7 refused to let the older students take all the glory though. The Boys’ race between Josh Thomas, Redruth and Harry Sprague from Exmouth switched places for first and second throughout – right down to the final stroke. Josh finished with 544m and Harry 543m – just one metre separating the two. Josh took the top percentage of the day with 106.67% and Harry 106.47%.

Maddy Burley from Penryn, meanwhile, set a new record for the Year 9 Girls’ event with 1075meters in the four minutes. Maddy set a blistering pace right from the start and enjoyed a 50m gap all the way to the finish, scoring 105.78% in the process.

Racing took place on 20 machines linked up in banks of 10, in front of two big screens. Results were displayed on TV monitors, which kept supporters up to date with the results of each race.

The standard of indoor rowing in the Western Region is improving each year, with competitors from the bringing back more and more medals from the National Indoor Rowing Championships. Indoor rowing clubs are growing in popularity in schools across the region, with some fantastic work going on in schools – in many cases run by volunteer coaches from local clubs or 6th form pupils.

At the end of a fantastic day of racing, Exmouth Community College had successfully defended their overall title – also coming away with the team honours, the overall school trophy, Boys trophy and the Year 7 Project Oarsome trophy. Devonport High School for Girls retained the overall girls’ trophy.

Thanks go to University St Mark & St John for the sponsored hall facilities and hospitality, the RAF Carers for their entertaining display and prizes, Active Devon and Plymouth School Sports Partnership for organising the event under the watchful eye of British Rowing Coach Kevin Sellar, and the West Region rowing coaching team and volunteers who helped make the day such a success.

For more results, photos and reports from the 2013/14 School Games, visit