Maidenhead Rowing Club Juniors came home from the British Rowing Junior Championships in Nottingham on the weekend of 15/16/17th July having won three gold medals and one silver medal and with a number of other fine performances.
After winning the Victor Ludorum at last year's championships, the Maidenhead juniors maintained our strong showing with second place (just ahead of co-habitees at the club, Claires Court School, in third place) out of 67 clubs and schools (many of them with much bigger junior squads) competing at this year's event.
The format of the event was a 1500m time trial on Saturday to determine which 12 boats in each event would progress to the semi-finals, and then either A or B finals, on Sunday. Boats not progressing to Sunday were then due to race in the minor finals on Saturday afternoon but due to the wind making the water unrowable, the Saturday minor finals were, unfortunately, cancelled. All subsequent races were raced in six lanes side-by-side over the full 2000 metre course.
The Sunday conditions were, thankfully, warm and sunny with a modest, but fair, headwind.
J14s were also required to perform an 'omnium' of boat skills tests on the Friday.
The boys' squad, coached by Katerina Kleshneva and Liam O’Mahony, seized two gold medals at the championships.
The first gold medal came from the Open J16 double scull of Elliott Kemp and Edoardo Marshall, who were hugely frustrated and disappointed to come fourth last year and who were determined to rectify the situation this year. They started by comfortably winning both the time trial and their semi-final. In the final they put in a completely dominant performance pulling away from second placed Calpe RC from Gibraltar throughout the race to win by a clear six seconds. A magnificent performance.
The second gold came from Victor Kleshnev in the Open J16 single sculls seeking a repeat of his wins at J15 and J14 age groups in the last two years' championships. After winning the time trial and recording the second fastest time in the semi-finals, Kleshnev came out on top in the final, winning by just under 7 seconds. To win the single sculls event three years running is a remarkable achievement by a very talented and hard working sculler.
The rest of the boys raced well to make the semi-finals in every event that was entered. Sergio Collett, in the Open J15 single sculls came 4th in the B final, making him the 10th fastest sculler in the country for his age. The Open Junior coxless four of Harrison Rowe, Daniel Sommervile, Ethan Walters and Sean O'Mahony narrowly missed the A final and won the B final in spectacular style (despite being relatively younger and inexperienced sweep rowers). Finally, the Junior double of Jonathan Sneller and Jordan Felstead also made the semi-finals, and then placed 4th in the B final against some very tough competition.
The girls' squads, coached by Collin Goodhew, Huw Jenkins and Rebekah Kerns (or rather Jasnikowski since her recent nuptials) won a gold and silver medal and also had two 'A' Finalists
The first girls' medal came from the WJ15 double scull of Beth Sinnott and Lola Harris who were second fastest in the time trial on Saturday and then won their Sunday semi-final convincingly. In the A final the favourites, a Merchant Taylor's/Trafford composite, got away fast, leaving Maidenhead to battle over the first half of the course for second place with the Trafford RC crew. After trailing Trafford for the first 1000m, Maidenhead gradually gained the upper hand with some super smooth sculling, reducing the gap on the leaders to win a fine silver medal.
As the gold medal winners were a Merchant Taylor's/Trafford composite crew, the Maidenhead girls were awarded the blue plaque denoting that they are the British Rowing Club Champions, i.e. the fastest single-club crew in the event.
The second medal came from WJ15 coxed quad of Lola Harris, Beth Sinnott, Immie Harding and Millie Holgate, coxed by Toby Goodhew, who were bidding to maintain their status as British Champions following their win at WJ14 level last year. Encouragingly, they recorded the fastest time in the Saturday time trial. They won their Sunday semi-final comfortably but in a slower time than the top two boats in the other semi-final - suggesting that the A final was going to be a hard fought affair. In the final they hung on well to the fast-starting Henley RC crew but were still three-quarters of a length down at halfway but ahead of their other great rivals, Marlow RC, in third. From halfway, the Maidenhead girls made the decisive move of the race, first drawing level with Henley and then inexorably moving ahead. By the 1500m mark they had a two-thirds of a boat length lead before breaking contact to cross the finish line with a clear water lead over Henley to win gold by six seconds. A terrific performance from this quad which included two girls who had earlier raced to silver in the double sculls final.
Izzie Bird, who is the WJ15 British Indoor Rowing Champion, raced in the WJ15 singles event. Izzie is still relatively inexperienced in a single but achieved sixth place in the time trial followed by third place in her semi-final on Sunday, thus qualifying for the 'A' final. In the 'A' final she raced to 5th place - a remarkable result in this toughest of events so early in her single sculls career.
Rosie Harris raced in the very tough WJ16 single sculls event. After an extremely fine second place in the third fastest time overall in her semi-final, as a light athlete she was hampered by a headwind in the 'A' final but still finished in 4th place. A terrific performance to prove herself the fourth fastest in her age group in the country.
The second WJ15 double of Izzie Bird and Georgia Howell made it through the time trial to Sunday's semi-finals but did not progress to the A final.
The second, less experienced, WJ15 quad of Alexandra Hollis, Beth Anderson, Esme Smith and Natalie Ashbrook, coxed by Olivia O'Mahony and the WJ18 double of Naomi Ross-Masson and Eliza Bennett (both rowing up age groups) both missed out on the semi-finals and were due to race again in the 'C' final on Saturday but, unfortunately these races were cancelled due to high winds.
Alexandra Hollis, who is still a WJ14, also took part in the J14 Omnium skills tests on the Friday, placing 39th overall out of 78 single scullers.