Remenham Challenge 2016

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The annual Remenham Challenge, against our six fellow founding clubs (Kingston, London, Molesey, Staines, Twickenham and Vesta) took place on Saturday 17 December.

The morning’s heavy fog lifted enough to allow the race, from Chiswick Pier to Vesta flagpole, to happen and as usual gave a good indication of where the squads currently stand despite a lot of illness and injury in the last few weeks.

For the fourth year in a row our men’s 1st VIII triumphed, this year finishing three seconds ahead of the Molesey crew which chased them all the way down the course. After losing the intermediate award last year it was good to regain it, with the 2nd VIII finishing fifth ahead of all the other clubs’ 2nd VIIIs and a couple of 1st VIIIs too.

Meanwhile the two other men’s senior squad boats finished in the top 10, rounding off a solid performance.

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The men’s novice crew raced strongly but were outclassed by Molesey’s impressive boat full of young rowers hoping for a future in the GB squad. Nevertheless it was a good debut for a promising group.

On the women’s side the disappointment of losing the elite award to Molesey in 2015 was banished to the past with a commanding performance. The 1st VIII finished 15 seconds ahead of Molesey with the 2nd VIII taking the intermediate award, only three seconds behind Molesey and comfortably ahead of all other women’s crews.

The women’s novices fielded two crews. The 1st VIII showed potential for the rest of the season, finishing nearly a minute ahead of Vesta’s top novice boat and ahead of Twickenham’s men’s novice crew. The 2nd VIII finished second in the category, testament to the depth of the squad.

London’s impressive men’s masters D crew and Kingston’s women’s masters C crew triumphed in the masters’ categories, but overall the haul of five Remenham Challenge wins was an improvement from 2015 and demonstrated the strength across the club at the moment.

The following day saw more tight racing in the annual Trial Eights for the seniors – just the warm-up to the main event of the weekend, Plum Puds 2016. Organised as ever by Sheena Cassidy and raced on pretty much the same course as Remenham, a total of 11 boats took to the water with representatives from all squads mixing it up to compete not only for Christmas puddings and eternal glory but also for the coveted fancy dress awards.

Puds 2016 turned out to be historic, as for the first time in living memory the XII – this year featuring as many red-haired rowers as we could muster – placed, finishing third despite a hefty time handicap. The Pauline Churcher won the junior quads event and the overall winner was the Alan Hawes, winning even after racking up a 34-second penalty due to swapping in a man for a woman. Head coach Ben Lewis was heard to grumble that the standard of rowing was really far too high this year.

The celebrations, as usual, were epic and the club retired full of confidence for the Head season to come.