Winning the P.E last year was like nothing I have ever experienced. We had put so much work in over the long cold winter in Melbourne on the Yarra River and we had become very focused on the goal of going over to win at Henley. We’d had a pretty successful season in Australia winning the Schools’ Head of the River and the Australian National Rowing Championships and had posted some pretty solid times, so we felt we were a chance.
When we first paddled on the Thames, it felt quite washy and took us a while to adjust. The concrete walls along the course created a wash rebound effect which made it quite a bouncy row, something we weren’t used to.
The crowd at Henley is something else. The enclosures make it feel like you are rowing in a stadium, as you are so close to the spectators and it really is an amazing atmosphere. When we first saw the draw for the races, we were in Amsterdam competing at the Holland Becker Regatta. As we were on the same side of the draw as St Paul’s and Eton, both very decent crews, we knew it would be tough.
We didn’t race as well as we could have in our first two meets against St George’s School and the Hampton School. Everyone in the boat was very nervous, with the atmosphere maybe getting the better of us. We finally pulled our heads in against St. Paul’s; most crew members agreed it was the hardest race we had ever rowed. For the last 400m in the enclosures, we couldn't even hear our cox as the crowd was so loud. We knew we had a shot when we defeated St Paul’s - they were the British National Champions - but we also knew we had to keep level headed as it was only day three!
Next was Eton College, which we knew were a very good crew. We found ourselves level at 750m in but we just kept our heads and made a push at the 1000m. We got half a length up and from then on we just had to hold the distance. They made a push in the last minute and I got a bit nervous, but we were able to hold on to win by over half a length.
We didn't really know much about Radley College but we definitely weren't going to be complacent coming into the final. Our start against them was probably the best for the week and I remember, in five strokes, we had taken 2 seats which just set up the whole race from there. When we won, it was just a feeling of relief and happiness that we had actually done it. It took a while to understand the enormity of our feat and it’s probably still sinking in a year on.
As with the racing this year, it would be silly not to pick St. Paul's. The amazing run they have had has been very impressive. My prediction is St. Pauls to win the final by 2 and a half lengths over St. Joseph’s Nudgee.
Scotch College 1st VIII 2017
Check out all the race videos of Scotch last year at our playlist here.