This weekend, our Maidenhead Junior squad made up of 28 athletes (WJ14 – J18) and 6 coaches made their way up to Strathclyde in Scotland for their annual National Championships.


The highlights:
It was a fantastic weekend on all accounts (maybe the weather could have improved a little...), and it is certainly a trip that will be remembered by all. In summary, we came away from the event with 3 GOLDS and 1 SILVER. In addition to this, every athlete that competed qualified for the A and B finals. The weekend got even better when it was noted that the WJ14 4x+ had set a new championship record!

The weekend surely couldn't get any better, but it did...It was announced that the Maidenhead Girls had won the Victrix Victor Ludorum, an award given to the team who collect the most points in womens events over the weekend. After the prize giving, we were asked to stay behind and gather the Maidenhead Boys, we waited suspiciously... to hear that we had also been awarded the Victor Ludorum for the combined effort of the club! It was a very close call between us and our friendly neighbours Claires Court School who were just 1 point behind. Claires Court also had a fantastic weekend with 2 GOLDS, 2 SILVERS and 1 BRONZE. Overall, a very thrilling and rewarding weekend for both clubs.

In more detail...

Jonny Sneller was the first Maidenhead athlete to take to the water in the finals. A strong start saw him lead the pack within the first few strokes of the race, a fierce battle ensued down the course with a fabulous 5th place in the B final, and an overall 11th place ranking for Maidenheads feisty lightweight.

Despite a very tough field of 42 WJ 1x's, Maddy Dobson made her way into the A final, and put up a tough fight to place 5th – a fantastic result in such a competitive field. In her last year at junior, it's a great result and even better that she'll be representing Scotland next weekend and the Home Countries match.

Next up the WJ14 2x of Izzie Bird and Olivia Webster, the girls went into the final having placed 3rd in the time trial and won their semi final. An exciting race saw a tussle for medal positions across the field, it also saw changing wind conditions throughout the course of the race. The girls sculled well, particularly as a new combination in their first small boats race (over a 2k course on a national level) and did well to place 5th in the A final. The girls have progressed hugely throughout the past year, having gone from a silver medals at National Schools in the A and B boat events to placing 5th in the country together.

Elliot and Edoardo, another fairly new doubles combination took off the start in a very competitive field. The boys put up a tough fight clawing their way through the middle of the race, as ever the boys did us proud and placed a difficult 4th, less than 2 seconds behind the bronze medal position. We are confident that with more time together and a renewed hunger for a medal, that we will see these two on the medal podiums next season.

The WJ16 2x event saw our most established crew of Abbie Bird and Kate Woffinden take to the water. The girls recorded the fastest time in the time trial, and won their semi final (though were 3rd on time overall). The lanes were drawn, and our girls found themselves in "lucky lane 7" again! The girls aced their square blade start, taking advantage of the tail wind and sailing into first place over rivals Norwich and Isle of Ely. They continued to fight down the course, opening their lead to several lengths at halfway. Eager for the win, they fought off Norwich who went in for a strong finish but couldn't quite match up to the Maidenhead combination who won their first National Championship title by 2.3 seconds.

In the boys event, James Leatherbarrow and Ethan Walters progressed into the B final and did well to place 4th just 0.28 seconds off the 3rd place, gaining them a 10th place position overall. In the same event the J16 2x of Charlie Collins and Jordan Felstead did fantastically to row themselves into the A final and come home safe in the knowledge that they're 5th in the country after an exciting race in the A final. Sam Hoxley and Henry Bennett competed in the J 2x event as a composite for Maidenhead and Borlase. The boys hadn't trained together since this time last year, and did well to make their way into the B final.

The WJ14 4x+ of Lola, Beth, Immie, Millie and Toby went out with fighting spirit, plotting their way to set a new course record in their event. The girls were distinctive in their final, helped by their convincing lead and also their fluroscent yellow sports tops! The girls and Toby sailed across the finish line to win a gold medal and set a new record (7:31.24) which was 6 seconds faster than the previous one held by Ross RC – a fantastic achievement.

Just minutes later, the WJ15 4x+ of Naomi, Maja, Talia and Rosie crossed the finish line to win a silver with new cox Ametz spurring them on. The girls put up an impressive fight, and held off an eager Ross crew in the final stages of the race. Congratulations go to the Henley Rowing Club crew who led an impressive race, winning by 15 seconds. A special mention should go to Ametz who received praise from the commentaters on her passion and skill throughout the semi final – a fantastic accolade for her to take home! The girls race also clinched the win of the Victrix Victor Ludorum with 41 points over second place Henley RC with 38 points.



The final race for Maidenhead was Victor in the J15 1x, he led the way towards the finish line with ease, winning by 4.5 seconds and was able to collect yet another gold medal for his collection over a local rival from Wallingford.

Special mentions should also go to Sean and Georgia for stepping down from this weekends competition. It's a huge testament to the maturity of our athletes that they were able to recognise that health comes first, and subsequently withdraw from competing as a result of illness and injury. We wish them well in their recovery. Another shout out goes to Lena who was hugely supportive of Georgia's decision not to compete in their 2x and went on to rally the troops with such grace over the weekend.

As always, a big thank you goes to the committed coaching team that supports our junior athletes: Huw, Collin, Katerina, Liam, Janet, Keith, Sean, Rebekah, Ben, Simon and to Laura for her support behind the scenes.

Last but not least, a MASSIVE thank you to our super mums and dad's who provided endless support this weekend with hugging, consoling, cheering and making our marquee a fabulous Maidenhead home.

Special mentions to:
• Gilly & Jo for co-ordinating our marquee transport, and to Eric for doing us a favour and getting it all there and back!
• To the Claires Court team for transporting our blades, boat and bike (Sam, Tim, Chris, Sean and Josty)
• To Jamie for providing the most amazing BBQ and stove top for all our cooking needs
• To all the early risers on Saturday morning who got the marquee set up in the pouring rain, and to Magda who sacrificed her bacon roll to make it happen!
• To Carlotta and Lynda for relentlessly slaving over pasta pots to make sure we were all fed
• To all the Dads manning the BBQ and grilling up bacon, sausages and chicken to make passers by envious
• To all the camera holding parents that will have captured our fantastic weekend – can't wait to see the photos (Anna, Janet, Gilly, Peter & more)!
• To all the parents who take a step back from their loved ones and let coaches take the lead, give the pep talks, send them off and steal the first hugs – we know it's difficult!

Here's to next year and another successful season!