The senior men began their Henley campaign after camp in Seville with a squad of 16 rowers and 2 coxes. A good addition to the squad was Leon Taylor who joined in early March. Leon previously won the Britannia Cup in 2012 with Star Club.
Our first races were Wallingford Regatta at Dorney and BUCS in Nottingham. In windy and rough conditions at BUCS we finished a creditable 6th in Championship 4- (Bow James Marsden, Hal Bedford-Payne, Jonty Webber, Str. Rich Sharratt). James and Hal also finished 7th in the Championship 2- time trial and Emil Biese and Ed Davies coming 15th/42 in the Int 2- time trial. Decent performances against top level opposition.
At Wallingford, both boats were entered into the premier Challenge events. Both rowed hard but were slow off the start and finished a bit off the pace. 8+ Bow. Tom Hopkins, Sam Tunbridge, Nick Pepper, John Coughlan, Leon Taylor, Andrew Bedford, Ben Handy, Str. John Ciccarelli, Cox: Adele Hing. 4+ Bow. Nick Pepper, Andrew Bedford, Ben Handy, Str. Sam Tunbridge, Cox: Prue Seaward
The Met regatta was up next, 4 weeks later:
Sen 4- Bow. Leon Taylor, John Ciccarelli, Hal Bedford-Payne, Str. James Marsden
IM2 8 Bow. Tom Hopkins, Sam Tunbridge, Nick Pepper, Ivan Zovich, Andrew Bedford, Jonty Webber, Ben Handy, Str. Rich Sharratt, Cox: Adele Hing
IM3 4+ Bow. Manny Powell, Marko Manning, Ed Davies, Str. John Coughlan, Cox: Prue Seaward
There were huge entries in all events requiring heats, semi and semi finals. The our top crew in the Sen 4- came 4th on Saturday and 6th on Sunday. The 8 came 6th on Saturday and 5th in the D final on Sunday with all 8's of all levels competing together. The time trial results saw the 8 only 5 seconds off qualifying for the A/B semi finals so it was a very close field. The 4+ made it to the semi finals on Saturday and were then eliminated. On the Sunday they rowed much more like the crew we'd seen in training and won the event by over 7 seconds. This was a massive turn around in speed; they beat the winners from Saturday by over 10 seconds. We raced the same crews at Marlow with the 4+ racing at IM2, and with junior Tristan Betty in for Manny Powell. The format was time trial and then respective final. Our Sen 4- came 2nd in the time trial and repeated in the final. They went through 500m in 4th moving to 2nd and just failing to get their nose in front. A great performance and excellent time of 6:13. The IM2 8 came 7th in the time trial and 6th in the A final. The IM2 4+ came a very close 3rd in the A final missing 2nd by a few inches. This after being a fairly distant 3rd in their time trial.
With our Henley crews set from Marlow, our Senior 4- pre-qualified for the Wyfolds. Both the 8 and 4+ raced at the Qualifying races to take limited spots in the Thames Cup and Britannia, respectively. A great achievement in a year of record entries.
The Britannia 4 raced on Wednesday morning against Stratford Upon Avon who outweighed us by 39lbs per man. In a tough head wine we rowed stroke for stroke all the way to the line, losing on the final stroke on the surge - the official verdict was 1ft. A very good performance from our least experienced crew. Although we lost, coach Andy Medcalf was pleased by the show of grit and developing maturity. The Thames Cup 8 had a tough draw against Royal Chester. We led off the start and sat3/4L in front showing good technique and toughness on the Bucks side to win by 3/4L. The Wyfold 4 handled Newark with ease and got out to a comfortable lead well before the barrier and were able to cruise home.
We had much tougher draws on Thursday against selected crews. The 8 was against the excellent Willem 3rd, Holland. We battled hard but were outclassed by a bigger, stronger and much more experienced crew. The 4- drew Tideway Scullers A, finalists in the Wyfolds for the last 2 years. We fancied our changes but it was not to be. TSS had a length on us by the barrier and we couldn't get back to them. Both crews went flat out to the line with the final verdict of 2L to TSS.
We finished the regatta season at our home race at Kingston, with James Marsden and Rich Sharratt winning IM3 2X and our 8 winning the Sprint races for the 2nd year running. Thanks also to the squad for manning the stake boats and Adele Hing for organising things.
Overall it was a good season with improvement in performances across the board: 29th at HORR, A final in Champ 4- at BUCS, winners of IM3 4+ at MET, 2nd in Sen 4- at Marlow and all 3 crews racing at Henley.