This one is less verbose, I promise.
With rays of sunshine warming the faces, hair fluttering in the brisk breeze and wretched exams etched in the mind, it was the Met. This year the armada was filled by all four squads. Here is a concise and precise round-up of our activities:
Four mens pairs were unleashed, with the random draw generator placing three in Championship and one in Tier 2.
All three championship pairs qualified for the final with Alexander Ball and Edward Bentley stealing bragging rights by claiming second place behind a slick Molesey pair. Despite having spent large tracts of the season together, Bentley concluded their boat finally clicked after Ball received extra, exogenous guidance on how to row a pair. Jonny Williams and Alister Fraser took fourth with Luke Whiting and James Harrison in sixth.
With force curves as perfectly aligned as their personalities, it was a foregone conclusion that Romain Barnoud and Edward Rees would fly out of the traps and comfortably win their Tier 2 final.
Feeling somewhat redundant on Saturday, cox Emily Boother cycled to Dorney from Putney to see her boys and only got lost once. Undoubtedly the most impressive performance of the weekend.
The cosmopolitan Long-Thom-Jackson-Ardissino pivot promises to be more influential than Sir Halford Mackinder himself could have ever imagined. The crew placed third on both days but it was the step change in performance that warmed the heart. Perhaps the exuberance of cheerleader Ben Spencer-Jones proved sufficiently inspirational. Following this trajectory, these atheletes are picking up more momentum than, well, Momentum. Watch this space in a fortnight’s time.
Issy Powell graced a London composite and guided the boat from the two seat to an impressive win in Championship coxless fours on the Saturday.
On Saturday, the men’s coxed four won.
Sunday teased a classic Imperial College vs Sport Imperial rivalry in the Championship final, but in reality it was one way traffic. Both crews didn’t match the adamantine focus of the Taurus crew, and although a competitive middle thousand from Sport Imperial proved handy, they lacked the technical nous to make a definitive move and finished third. In a bid to find more speed, Josh Butler has set his crew 15x1500m, it is the done thing in New Zealand you know.
In Tier 4, the novice men placed fifth on Saturday and sixth on Sunday. The Stewards are no doubt monitoring the exploits of bowman Sarunas Driezis.
The women’s coxed four stretched their legs and despite illness put together race profiles that demonstrate their promise, placing fourth on Saturday and third on Sunday. Coach Patrick Hudson continues to tweak, with tangible results.
Challenge Eights were not an open goal this year, and the A boat required their A game to qualify a spot in the A final. Confidently striding into the A/B semi-final, the boys didn’t quite put together the race deserving of their ability. Fired up by six seat Edward Rees, they dispatched Galway with consummate ease and won the B final.
Perhaps the steepest learning curve of the weekend was for the B boat, who raised eyebrows. A shout out to Kegler, Wilson, Simmonds, Layton, Hambrook, McElroy, Uglow, Knights and Grayson for their race profile to deliver second place, in what proved to be an almighty tussle with Galway and Exeter. The beauty of challenge eights was lost on coxswain Charlotte Grayson as she pondered why the crew didn’t just push a bit harder a bit earlier.
Amy Gibson and Issy Powell crushed dreams to win in Tier 2 pairs. Gibson was bounding off the walls with her first hardware in black, blue and silver whilst it was two from two for Powell.
Another crew to learn from Saturday, Jowita Mieskoswka and Kathryn Barnhill sculled superbly to control the Tier 3 final. After placing fifth on Saturday, this was an excellent turnaround so the tears at the finish line were to be expected. Coach Dave Loveday is proving himself the better Loveday.
Quality racing experience is hard to come by for the novice women. Fortunately Martha Parkinson was determined to cram as many strokes in as possible, as the crew put the distance into Kings College London, instantly lifting the spirits of coach Lloyd Seaman. Rumours of this being three seat Georgia Grand’s last appearance of the season were greeted with nonchalance.
Harrison Uglow secured the all important point, clear of the field in Tier 2.
Pippa Whittaker warmed up the engine, placing fourth on Saturday and sixth on Sunday.
Bowman Adam Freeman-Pask and two seat Berend van Wachem were overhead reminiscing about days gone by, after they placed fourth in the Championship Quad final. Perhaps it the Molesey stern pair that let them down. Nevertheless, one would not bet against this crew.
Sport Imperial turned up, went for a row and, with moules frites on their mind, went home.
Continual improvement is the sine qua non of a successful programme and that was the overriding theme of the weekend. Indeed, coach Brendan Gliddon was in heaven on Sunday, such was the improvement as a club. It’s a bendy road to the top but credit to the flexibility and adaptability of the athletes to embrace any obstacle hurled in their path, turn up and deliver on the day. As ever, our gratitude to coaches Gliddon, Hudson, Millar, Loveday, Turkington, Cornet and Seaman for setting the platform.
We are up and running. What’s next?