High Winds at Wallingford Regatta

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Wallingford Regatta became the latest event to fall foul of inclement weather as most of the afternoon’s finals were cancelled as a result of high winds. Despite a smooth morning division which saw a rare guest appearance from the sun, the committee were forced to decide the winners of the majority of the afternoons racing through time trials or results from heats.

On a day which hosted a spectrum of racing conditions, from a cutting cross-wind to bright sunshine, many of the top clubs and schools from around the UK took to Dorney Lake to gauge early season speed. Twenty three crews from the School’s Rowing Association of South Africa also made the trip to compete with the best domestic junior crews. With the National Schools’ Regatta only three weeks away, the junior events were a real spectacle to watch; the Junior A Eight heats saw some of the fastest times of the day. 

Thames Rowing Club were victorious in Men’s Challenge Eights and Women’s Challenge Eights, a remarkable feat which bodes well for Henley Royal Regatta preparation. In the latter, the Putney based club were winners in a straight final that contained three junior crews while the men, who took the Vernon Pennant at the Head of the River Race in March, beat a Leander development crew by nine seconds to claim the win. Ben Lewis, head coach at Thames Rowing Club, was satisfied with the days work. ‘It was a good start to the racing season following a few pennants and good strength in depth at the Head of the River’ said Lewis. ‘The most pleasing aspect was probably the women’s pairs and Challenge Eight, who showed a good step on from the Head’.

With many of the student crews racing at Nottingham for the BUCS Regatta, the path was left clear for clubs and schools. However, a crew from Oxford Brookes raced in Challenge Coxless Fours and were the second fastest qualifiers into a final which was unfortunately cancelled.

It was also a good day for Molesey Boat Club, who had an astonishing five crews qualify for a six boat final in Challenge Coxless Pairs. They also finished second and third in the women’s equivalent, capping off a good day for the club. 

Rachel Haycock, entries secretary for the regatta, was keen to highlight the important role played by clubs and schools in building the image of the event. ‘I think it’s very important that we not only attract clubs from the top end of the spectrum but also from around the country. We also have a lot of schools and the regatta represents one of the only opportunities to race multi-lane before the National Schools’. 

Speaking about the role of club members in staging the regatta, Haycock said that the regatta comes before racing. ‘Wallingford Regatta, for Wallingford members, is all about putting on a great event; racing comes second. We have put out a few crews through the squads, but most of the members are busy helping out through the day so are not at their freshest when they come to sit in a boat’.

Full results can be found here.

By Tom Morgan.