The day started off calm and still in the overcast of the early morning. The clouds provided shelter from the wind resulting in some quick time-trials.
Founder's Cup for J15 Championship Eights
Winner - St Pauls School
Aberdeen, Westminster, Abingdon and St. Pauls immediately showing they were a force to be reckoned with. A fast time from Shrewsbury also came as a shock to some crews.
Semi - Final AB 1 was laid out to be a hard-fought race with Westminster, Abingdon, Shrewsbury, Shiplake and Hampton in lanes 1-5 and the underdogs St. Edwards in lane 6. The now sunny and slightly windy conditions were still good for racing, meaning an even platform for each school.
Westminster declared an early lead, cruising into the finals. However further back a battle was brewing for those second and third places. Abingdon reclaimed speed after an awful start and accidentally swerving into Shrewsbury's lane, a canvas separated the 2 with Abingdon a canvas in front. Shiplake had a blistering start scaring the boats beside them, but fatigue meant they slowly fell behind. After a relatively slow first 1000m, Hampton had a rapid second half gaining fast on RSBC and ASBC. In the end, Abingdon finished 1 second in front of Shrewsbury with Hampton running out of time to catch up.
The second semi-final was a lot clearer cut. St. Pauls came first by 5 seconds, followed by Aberdeen then Winchester, who were reasonably 'shock' finalists.
The final was made up of St Pauls, Westminster, Aberdeen, Abingdon, Shrewsbury and Winchester. Perhaps not the predicted crews but all had earned their place in trying to take the Founder's cup.
By the time the final came around the wind had picked up, with lanes near the supporters bank beginning to have an advantage, being blocked by other crews from the sudden gusts of winds. A clean start with Abingdon, St Pauls, Aberdeen and Westminster being all together for the first 500m, the London crews swiftly pulled away for the fight for gold however. The bronze medal battle between Abingdon and the Scots lasted till the 1000m mark, but with a sudden gust hitting the Abingdon crew, knocking them off their stride, Aberdeen capitalized and pulled away. Pauls won the battle for gold and the final order was Paul's, Westminster, Aberdeen, Abingdon, Shrewsbury then Winchester.
The finish line was a mix of emotions with Pauls and Aberdeen happy in victory, but Abingdon and Westminster in agony. The J15 Champ 8 division was a hard fought category and hats must go off to St. Pauls for being able to fend off all the distinguished crews.
Bluefriars Cup for J15 Second Eights
The Abingdon crew were set to break this crews chances of winning but a 3rd place in the time-trial was disappointing. Hampton performed and came 2nd in the time-trial only to find themselves sitting down on Abingdon in the tougher of the two semi-finals. This crew showed great mental discipline, determination and grit to stick to their rhythm an race plan to row through Abingdon. This also proved that the time-trial results were correct after many rumours by coaching teams that the results weren't correct, and that Hampton were a faster crew than Abingdon.
The Final saw the Westminster boys join Hampton and Abingdon who were all favourites to medal. Credit to Westminster as they showed they were the more powerful crew, however, the matchup for 2nd wasn't as good as initially anticipated. Abingdon took Hampton fast off the blocks, and Hampton found themselves sitting behind the whole field at 500m with rumoured steering issues off the start. After a slow atta h to the stake-boats, Westminster powered ahead the rest of the field and finished far in front of Abingdon. The Wintech squad from Hampton had managed to settle into a rhythm which carried them into 3rd place, but after mass energy expenditure of the start with unlucky circumstances, this Hampton crew showed real determination, rowing through 3 crews to take bronze. This is an exciting year group to watch and no doubt some of these 2nd Eights will lose some of their better rowers to their Championship Eights next year, but the levels of depth that school's currently possess show how strong and growing Junior Rowing is in the UK.
Dan and Ben - J15