Perhaps a little under the radar and less well understood by non-particiating schools, yesterday's private regatta saw the summer of racing for many junior boys really getting underway.
BASHER is the name given to an annual selection of racing fixtures organised amongst the (traditionally) top boys’ rowing schools: Bedford, Abingdon, St. Paul’s, Hampton, Eton and Radley- hence BASHER. After cranking out the miles on training camps over Easter, yesterday’s regatta was the first multi-lane matchup of this season. To maximise the quality of racing, crews initially race in a time trial and are subsequently ranked solely based on speed, rather than separated by year groups.
This year, 63 crews took to the water, but Bedford were the only school to field their 1st VIII, only heightening anticipation of the draw for next weekend’s Wallingford Regatta. However, it is worth noting that owing to the GB team for Munich Regatta, BASHER schools Bedford, Eton and Radley will be missing top athletes Connor Sheridan, Max Shakespeare & Max Ridgwell and Archie McChesney respectively from any potential Wallingford lineups, with additional absences from Westminster and Shiplake. St. Paul’s School have chosen to prioritise Wallingford over an international vest opportunity at Munich; undoubtedly a decision that will detract from the attending GB team, but one that will pay back immeasurably into the success of their summer campaign.
After an impressive, record-setting 4th place overall finish at School’s Head, it won’t come as a surprise that Eton’s 2nd VIII set the fastest time of the day. The St. Paul’s 2nd VIII followed in second place ahead of Bedford School’s first eight, overturning Bedford’s three second advantage at SHORR in the process. The second crew from Radley College took fourth position, with the St. Paul’s and Hampton J16 eights taking the last spots in the A final.
The St. Paul’s crew were Ch.J15.8+ champions at last year’s National Schools’ Regatta, but were pipped by Westminster into second position at School’s Head by three seconds. They took the win last year at NSR off the back of a third place finish at SHORR, so with the racing experience gained from a strong field at BASHER, there is no doubt that they will be looking to do the same when they’re back at Dorney in a months time. St. Paul’s also fielded the fastest J15 eight of the day, so whilst Eton took the overall on this occasion, there looks to be a lot of promise for future years at the West London school.
Photos by Ed, J15