TRC race hard at the Met

At a windy, but pretty fair, Dorney Lake, the TRC Senior Squads took to the waters en masse. From the novice squad (now racing in IM3) to the Men’s and Women’s lead crews for HRR and HWR, the guys and girls took on most of the best clubs and universities from across the country. Every crew had its fair share of very close racing and, as the weekend ramped, the coaches were not only exhausted from all the cycling but also the chatting as they went about, surmising whose crew had the best race or performance. There were surprises across the board, and a surprising number of pleasing ones rather than tales of woe.

The women’s squad started the tough weekend of racing with a win in the heats of the W.IM3 eights, with a newly formed combination comprising of athletes from the intermediate and novice squads. Inexperience in the combination showed in the final, but their performance in the heat bodes well as they march on to HWR.

Harriet Broad and Bernice Cutler kept coaches, and their competitors, guessing through the course of the weekend, with questionable steering hampering their boat speed. The steering, however, got better with each passing race and they finished off their weekends’ efforts with a great race in the final of the W.IM1.2x finishing 2nd. This crew is going from strength to strength, and a lot is expected of them at HWR. Similarly for the quad containing Cayley Firth, Jordan Cole-Hossain, Hannah Stone and Jo Harris, who showed significant improvement since Wallingford, three weeks ago, finishing 2nd in the W.IM1.4x field.

Thames’ senior coxed four combination for HWR decided to challenge themselves by racing in the elite coxless fours event, in the hopes of getting more out of their rowing. The exercise paid dividends as they found themselves with a small lead after 250m over Leander and an U23 combination, which had recently won the prestigious Huegel Regatta in Germany. They impressed many on the towpath with their fluid style and length but found the pace, they themselves had set, a little too hot and after going through the half way level with the aforementioned opposition they drifted back off the pace finishing a very brave race in third.

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Their work for the day was not done however and just over an hour later they were back on the water accompanied by cox Nicky Shepherd for a crack at the elite coxed fours. A similar start had them enjoying a small lead after 500m but this time they did not look back, and progressively moved away from their more fancied opposition from Leander, winning by a commanding 7 seconds.

Sunday’s challenge eights format presented an opportunity for some last ditch fine-tuning for the Henley Royal Regatta qualifiers, for the Thames women’s 1st eight. After only 3 sessions since WeHORR the crew were surprised when they found themselves in third place after the time trial. In their semi-final they came up against a strong Brookes crew who made TRC pay for a poor start jumping out to 2/3 of a length lead. 2/3 of length was where the gap stayed however and the girls had proved that they had the speed to match the Brookes outfit.

The final, two hours later, presented all the crews with a very strong tail wind, which would suit the more skillful crews in the field, and this seemed to suit our girls. Addressing their poor start from the semi-final, TRC found themselves level with both Brookes and Leander through the 500m mark. This margin stayed close at halfway, with Leander enjoying a length lead in front of a pack of three. As the conditions on the course worsened, the Thames eight seemed to get better, and started to grind their way steadily back onto the leaders, Leander’s, stern and move away from the chasing pack. At the finish the crew found themselves in 2nd, just under a length off of Leander and ahead of 2 further GB funded centers. A brilliant performance from the entire crew made up from stroke, of Katie O’Toole, Bea Sheldrick, Maddy Foster, Sarah Jones, Cayley Firth, Anna Tyndall, Helena Green and Jordan Cole-Hossain.

The men’s squad had a very pleasing weekend with a pot for the IM2 ‘Fatboys’ coxed four, and Tom Harvey on his scourge of the IM3 competition, on his current pot hunt in the 1x. A win eluded the Senior coxed four by just a foot in the final race of the weekend. After a superb series of races, every major mistake was made but learned from, and they put it together for the final race (bar that one more stroke needed). The IM3 coxed four did struggle somewhat with lack of time in the boat and the cross wind which was present both mornings.

In Elite Pairs, the Men’s 1st eight took on themselves, as well as the top U23 pair from trials. A much anticipated showdown amongst the rowers and coaches alike, this proved to be far more exciting and closer than anyone dared hope. Money changed hands afterwards (but not in the direction some had gambled) as Rich Dyer and James Padmore closed out a superb race, with all the pairs within a length of each other. And that included the two drifting over the line, having had a last second clash, in the sprint for the line.

The next day they joined forces with Connie, to join an apparent game of ‘spoof’ with Leander and Brookes, in Elite 8’s to see who reach the final the freshest. The final was another great race, in fast but awkward conditions, and like in Ghent, the 8 was just a few seats behind Brookes at 1250m, with Leander leading the field by about a length. A superb move by Brookes (and a bit of sticky patch with the fast water) meant the eight lost some momentum and slightly lost touch with the front of the field, but still crossed the line with over two lengths clear of regular Tideway rivals UL, and in a respectable time.

The 3rd 8, racing in IM1, had a good Sunday’s racing by making the A/B Semi Final in a lively time trial. In a series of great races (well done to LRC for retaining this format) the 8+ finished just behind Upper Thames in the B final in a good time. Rowing the field back in a tail wind, after being very short on practice, is encouraging.

The 4th 8 was a similar story, and while racing in IM2 is currently a step too at such a large regatta, they raced hard to finish a superb second in the E final, again, having rowed through the majority of the field. To make the day even more exciting, our Novice 8 joined the fray having made the final of IM3 8’s the day before, the only club in a field of students. They showed superb guts and potential against more seasoned opposition and finished just a few seats behind their club mates! This gave them the IM3 8’s trophy, the 3rd of the weekend for the Men’s squad, a big step on from just the 1 last year.