Win at Henley Women’s Regatta

The winning S4+

The winning S4+

Henley Women’s Regatta provided an opportunity for the women’s squad to round out a very pleasing summer of racing. While the winter head-racing season was characterised by inconsistency – wins, near misses and drastic under-performances - the summer has been anything but.

The squad made several changes after WEHORR and these seemed to bear fruit at Wallingford Regatta with wins in the Challenge Pairs event and a shock victory by 7 seconds over the nearest competitor, Molesey, over a shortened 1500m race. Three weeks later at Met the sculling squad showed significant improvement from Wallingford and placed second in both the IM1 doubles and quads event.

Not to be out done by their senior squadmates, the intermediate squad made up of novices and intermediates romped away to a fine win in their heat but showed a little bit of their inexperience in the final. They certainly showed signs of great things to come if they train consistently in the 2015/2016 season. The seniors continued to show their strength with the elite coxed four winning the event by no less then 7 seconds over Leander.

On the Sunday of Met the Challenge eights format of racing gave our top women’s eight the opportunity to progress over three races and in the final they showed their mettle rowing clear away from Imperial College and Oxford Brookes and chased down Leander to within 2.5 seconds to finish a very creditable second.

At the Reading Regatta the week before HWR the Thames ladies qualified four crews, an IM3 coxed four, an elite women’s double, an elite women’s pair and a senior single sculler, for the finals of the regatta but unfortunately failed to convert any of these finals into pots.

The stage was set at HWR to end the season on a high. The regatta began with the dreaded time trials to whittle down over-subscribed fields. In a field of 38 in the club 4+ event Thames A crew of CarolineMcPherson, Hannah Roberts, Lindsay Scott, Katrine Eskander and cox Andy qualified in 6th position while our novice Thames B crew would have found the experience of their first HWR invaluable.

In the senior women’s 2x Harriet Broad, along with brand new sculler and 2014 Club Eight champion Bernice Cutler, placed a very creditable 10th out of 31 entries. The Met-winning Senior 4+ of Katie O’Toole, Bea Sheldrick, Maddy Foster, Sarah Jones and cox Nicky Shepherd finished in 2nd place, with some work to do if they hoped to claim the Frank Harry Cup come Sunday. In the final time-trial of the regatta, lightweight 1x Catherine O’Riordan did superbly to qualify in 13th place for the senior lightweight sculls after wrestling with illness for three weeks leading up to the regatta.

When side-by-side racing started Thames got off to a flying start with the senior 4x of Cayley Firth, Jordan Cole-Hossain, Hannah Stone and Jo Harris easily dispatching Tideway rivals Mortlake Anglican & Alpha. In their quarter-final they came up against eventual winners Gloucester Hartpury who needed to row down the Henley track in a course record to dispatch the TRC quartet.

The senior women’s 2x was soundly beaten by Edinburgh University in the round of 16 but must be applauded for the improvement they have shown throughout their season. The club 4+ were also knocked out on the Saturday afternoon in their quarter-final against Wallingford.

Club 4+

Club 4+

The senior 4+, however, were going from strength to strength and marched through the first two rounds of racing beating Tulsa University B and Tideway Scullers by comfortable margins.

Sunday brought with it a stiff headwind and Thames had managed to progress two crews to the final day of racing. The elite lightweight 2- of Ellie Fielding and Lowenna Coad took to the water for the first time in the regatta in a semi-final against Mortlake Anglican & Alpha, which they won by a distance of three lengths.

The senior 4+ also managed to qualify for the final of their event by winning by three lengths, in a very controlled fashion, against Ivy League opposition from Brown University. In the finals of the event against Exeter University, the classy Thames outfit attacked their opposition all the way to the barrier, employing a high stroke rate for a 4+ of 37. By the time they reached the midway point, in front of the enclosures, they were already enjoying a sizable lead and never looked back, winning the event comfortably in a time of 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Well done to Katie, Bea, Maddy, Sarah and Nicky for their win and a great season.

The very next race on the course saw our lightweights a few lengths down going through the half-way back but fighting their way back to challenge their opposition from next door, Imperial College. The final margin at the finish line was five lengths but those were mostly due to a, now deceased, rogue duck wandering onto the course, and being hit by one of our oars. As a result, the pair's steering was compromised, and the next thing they hit was one of the (less forgiving) Henley booms. A disappointing end to what was proving to be a very spirited performance from Ellie and Lowenna.