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This weekend, the Redgrave-Pinsent Rowing Lake, home of the GB Rowing Team in Caversham hosted the final assessment for athletes seeking selection into the GB squad for the approaching World Cups and the World Championships this summer. The trials were attended by some of GB’s most famous international athletes, who went head-to head with young talent and rising stars, including Wallingford Rowing Club’s resident under-23 world champions Brianna Stubbs and Ellie Piggott. After taking the top spot in the lightweight double scull at the 2013 Under-23 World Rowing Championships, Brianna and Ellie were quickly invited to train on a full-time basis with the national squad. The women’s lightweight field at the trials was certainly a tough one – including Kat Copeland, 2012 Olympic Champion, who went on to claim top position at the weekend.

The Wallingford RC girls set a high standard in the opening time trial, with Ellie posting the 4th fastest time, and Brianna hot on her heels in 5th position. The semi-final, the first of the side-by-side races of the day, saw both girls clinch spots in the ‘A’ final of the women’s lightweight event. As a result of worsening weather conditions, the selectors made the decision to run the finals on the same day, as opposed to the next day as originally scheduled. This meant the final was to be raced just a few short hours after a tough semi-final. Bri and Ellie held their own in the tough headwind, and Ellie finished in 4th place, and Brianna in 6th – a fantastic achievement, with both athletes showing their ability to make the step-up from under-23 to senior international level. Brianna Stubbs said, of the weekend’s racing: “I'm really pleased to have delivered a performance that keeps me in the hunt for selection this summer. It is especially sweet given that my winter training was heavily disrupted by illness. It was a very challenging day of racing in many ways and I feel like I rose to the challenge; getting a place in the A final was a great result.”

 

Though windy, the rain stayed away for this year's Abingdon Head of the River Race, in which Wallingford Rowing Club entered 22 crews. Over the 2000m course on the River Thames, the first two crews off the start consisted of two eights from Wallingford’s large group of veteran rowers. The ‘A’ crew won the Masters ‘F’ 8+ category, with the ‘B’ crew finishing just 4 seconds behind them, to take second place.

The senior men's squad entered 3 coxed fours and a double scull. Again, winning performances were posted from the word ‘go’, beginning with the Intermediate 1 crew of Alastair Collier, Bill Cole, Richard Thwaites, Peter Watson and cox Becky Collier storming down the course to become the fastest coxed four of the day. In the afternoon division, having swapped Peter Watson for new recruit Liam Price, the crew also won the IM3 4+ category. Richard Thwaites rounded off the racing with a hat-trick after winning the Intermediate 3 double sculls with Steven Hall.

The even younger end of the clubs’ membership produced excellent racing within the junior squad.  The WJ16 coxless quad of Lucy Walker, Lauren Shannon, Poppy Dawe and Jess Shuttleworth won their event and also took the title of fastest Women's junior crew of the day, winning the Milton Challenge cup. In addition, Jess Polkey, Ani Cook, Poppy Dawe and Georgia Swiatoniowska with cox Billy Lines won the WJ15 coxed quad.  Not being outdone by the girls, the boys also put in excellent performances with wins from Henry Edwards, Andrew Wheel, Alex Lyons and Arthur Arnould in the  J18 coxless quad and Seb Newman in J15 single scull.

Winning crews
Mas F 8+ Paddy Hislop, Ian Millar, Colin Edgar, Jeremy Warrell, Anthony Cooke-Yarborough, Michael Drury, Andy Knight, David Wright, Alice Walker (cox)
IM1 4+ Alastair Collier, Bill Cole, Richard Thwaites, Peter Watson, Becky Collier (cox)
IM3 4+ Alastair Collier, Bill Cole, Richard Thwaites, Liam Price, Becky Collier (cox)
IM3 2x Richard Thwaites, Steven Hall
WJ16 4x Lucy Walker, Lauren Shannon, Poppy Dawe, Jess Shuttleworth
WJ15 4x+ Jess Polkey, Ani Cook, Poppy Dawe, Georgia Swiatoniowska, Billy Lines (cox)
J18 4x Henry Edwards, Andrew Wheel, Alex Lyons, Arthur Arnould
J15 1x Seb Newman

 

After the men's Head of the River Race was cancelled the previous day, the vets were luckier with the weather for the Vesta Veteran's Head of the River which took place on Sunday 30th March. Wallingford had three crews entered and amidst some strange results, probably due to tidal conditions, all finished in the top 100 crews. A Wallingford/Quintin F8+ composite led the way finishing 9th overall on unadjusted time, and winning the Open F8+ category. Not far behind them was the Wallingford women's C8+ which finished 30th overall and 5th in a very competitive category. The second Wallingford F8+ came in at position 100. Great racing from all!

 

Wallingford’s senior training camp took place in Temple-sur-Lot, France this year from 16th-24th March. Around 30 rowers from the senior men’s and women’s squads took part in the camp and spent eight days training hard and kick-starting their summer race preparation. After a winter of flooding it was a great chance to get some decent time on the water, and everyone returned from the camp fitter, stronger and faster. Despite being in quite an isolated location, the rowers made the best of any spare time by organising a scratch quads race and a talent show on the last night. It was a great week and plans are already underway for next year!

 

The Women’s Eights Head of the River Race took place on Saturday 15th March with near perfect conditions and a strong entry including many international crews. Wallingford had three crews entered and all three finished in the top 100 which was a fantastic result in a strong field of 240. The Wallingford A crew had a good race and, whilst slipping down the rankings slightly from previous years, managed to maintain a top 20 finish coming in 19th. The Wallingford B crew was a mix of junior, novice, and more experienced senior rowers and put in a very strong performance to come 61st overall and 10th out of the enormous IM3 category entry. Wallingford C also raced well, overtaking several crews and finishing comfortably in the top 100 at 95th.

 

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