The Radley College Boat Club travelled to Dorney Lake over the weekend of 26th-28th of May with a squad of 90 boys to compete at the National Schools’ Regatta. The regatta is the biggest event in the calendar for the club and represents a chance for all of the boys to showcase the hard work and effort they have put in with their coaches over the course of months of training.
The Boat Club managed to deliver three Championship medals in total, two silver and a bronze. Perhaps more pleasing was that all year groups A and B boats managed to make it into the A Final of their respective events, showing an increased depth to the boys’ squads, and a credit to the boys themselves. There were several comments from opposition coaches of the grit and tenacity shown by our crews over the course of the weekend’s racing. This is something that will stand the boys in good stead as they move into the last few regattas of the year in June.
Friday saw the Shells racing in the octuplet events. We were very pleased to be able to send four boats this year, highlighting the good work done by Mr Lyons, Mr Borthwick and Mr Norman throughout the year. The J14.4 and J14.3 boats raced well in their time trials and placed 26th and 20th respectively. This meant a D Final race for J14.3, but unfortunately J14.4 just missed joining the D Final by two places, but did beat 11 other crews; a very good achievement indeed. Unfortunately, due to bad weather all C/D Final races were cancelled.
The J14.2 crew raced well in their time trial and placed 6th overall, qualifying them for the A/B semi-finals, where they finished a very close 3rd. This meant they secured a place in the A Final, where the crew pushed hard, but ultimately ended up in 6th position. A very strong effort from the boys. The final race of the day saw J14.1, who had progressed very well through the rounds by winning their semi-final, take on five other crews in the A Final. They raced extremely well in a brilliant race, which ultimately saw St Paul’s take the gold, a few feet ahead of the Radley boys, who won a tremendous silver medal for their efforts.
The days racing had six Radley VIII’s taking to the course, with every 1st and 2nd VIII crew making the A Final in their categories - a very creditable achievement. All of the 2nd VIII’s through the year groups progressed from their semi-finals to earn spots in the final, with a particularly gutsy row coming from Dr Rhodes’s J15.2 crew. In an unfavourable lane due to the crosswind that was present all day, the crew overturned some strong opposition to achieve the A Final. All 2nd VIII crews raced very well throughout the day and finished in the following positions: J15 - 4th, J16 - 5th and J18 - 7th. The 1st VIII’s in each year group fought well on the water throughout the day. The J18 crew ultimately placing 5th in a very strong field that was extremely tightly-matched throughout the day, which bodes well for an exciting run into Henley Royal Regatta. The J16 crew pushed hard in their semi-final to hold off last year’s bronze medallists, Westminster, but could not quite overcome Shrewsbury in the A Final to push onto the podium in a tight race. The highest finishing crew of the day for Radley was the J15 crew, coached by Mr Ingham Clark. The boys raced an extremely classy semi-final to win by a good margin and then took the race on in the final, leading for the first 1250m. However, with around 700m to go, a very slick St Pauls crew nudged through and went on to take gold. The Radley crew were well clear of third to claim an excellent silver medal.
On the final day of racing, Radley had entered six crews in smaller boats, with all crews having little preparation in their respective crews, but it was important for the boys to gain some experience and have some fun. The two J16 pairs started the day off with one pair making the A Final and one in the C Final. Both crews raced hard in their respective finals, with the Henry Taylor/William Nelson pair finishing 3rd in their C Final. Felix Reynish/Felix Rawlinson managed to come 5th in the A Final, which was a great achievement, especially given that Felix Reynish had only rowed a pair twice ever before National Schools’! The rest of the J16 and J18 year groups raced in fours. Both J16 fours performed well, but unfortunately, both crews came home fourth in their semi-finals, meaning they did not progress to the A Final. A real shame for both crews, as they would both have qualified by 8 and 12 seconds respectively if they had been in the other semi-finals.
The J18 crews raced very well, with the coxed four delivering their best performance of the day in the final, to finish a very pleasing 4th. managing to row through and topple the other half of Eton’s 1st VIII in the process. The final medal of the regatta was earnt by the J18 coxless four, who had shown very good speed throughout the day. They rounded it off with a very strong showing in the final, to come home in 3rd place, earning an excellent bronze medal.
Overall, it was a very good showing from the Radley crews, with an enormous amount of determination and effort shown across all three days of racing. The total tally for the weekend was 11 A Finals achieved, and three excellent medals won. Well done to all involved and a big thank you to all coaches, boatmen and parents who supported the club in the build up to and during the regatta.