National Schools Regatta, Dorney Lake

Mariner’s Cup Win for Aberdeen

Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association have just returned from Dorney Lake – the 2012 Olympic rowing venue – after competing in the 2017 National Schools Regatta. In the premier junior regatta of the UK season, with over 5000 competitors, ASRA returned with an excellent haul of a gold medal and two bronze medals.

On Friday 26. May, ASRA boys Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Alexander Beeson and Jakub Zbikowski, coxed by Michael McCrory grabbed an impressive bronze medal in the Junior 15 Coxed Quadruple Sculls. After a time trial and semi- finals, the field of 44 crews was reduced six. In the final, a length down from the winners, Henley Rowing Club, the boys had a tremendous tussle with two other crews; eventually finishing a metre behind 2nd place and the same ahead of 4th place.

On Saturday 27.May, the same crew of Seth, Chris, Alexander, Jakub and Michael (cox) entered their preferred event, the Junior 15 Coxed Fours. After progressing smoothly through the opening rounds, the final developed into an attritional battle between ASRA and Walton Rowing Club. The ASRA boys pushed their bows in front after the first 250m of the 2000m race and steadily opened this up to a lead of one boat length. Every time Walton managed to lift their rating and claw back some of the difference, the ASRA crew managed to find a little extra and open the lead back up again, eventually crossing the line in first place to win the prestigious Mariner’s Cup for Aberdeen.

On the same day, ASRA Junior 17 boys Conrad Forbes, Miles Beeson, Robert Powell and Theo Stott, also coxed by Michael McCrory, were entered in First Coxed Fours event. After progressing into the A Final the race started well for the ASRA boys and they were in a tight battle with two other crews. However, St George’s College and Tideway Scullers pushed ahead after 1000m, with the former winning a very tight race for gold; and with ASRA unable to respond to the quickening pace, the boys were left in a comfortable bronze medal position.

In other events ASRA crews gained very respectable results. The crew of Harris MacDonald, Scott Lewis, William Bricknell, Ashley Geddes, Archie Innes, Michel Dearsley, Matthew Hughson and Oscar Forbes, coxed by Ben Milne, came 5th in the A Final of Junior 14 Coxed Octuple Sculls. The crew of Abigail Topp, Ellie Andrew, Meg Lewis and Megan Hewison, coxed by Emily Murdoch reached the semi-finals of the Junior 16 Girls Coxed Fours and the crew of Aidan Graham, Danny Skinner, Daniel Lynch and Sam Kelso reached the semi-finals of the Junior 16 Coxless Fours.

Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association will now be training for the Scottish Rowing Championships on the 9th – 11th June at Strathclyde Park, Motherwell.

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National Schools Championships

The National Schools Championships at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, - scheduled to take place from 23rd - 25th May - were called off half-way through Saturday after 4 Boys' Eights were swamped and conditions were rightfully deemed thereafter to be too dangerous to continue.

This was of course a bitter disappointment for our J18 Schoolgirls' Coxed Four and our J16 Double who had trained so hard for the event and it was left to our younger boys to keep the ASRA colours flying.

On Friday our J14 Coxed Quad (Nic Riddoch, Robert Hamlet, Blair Sorbie & Lewis McCue with cox Emily Geddes) sailed through the processional in 10th place out of 21 and were unlucky in a strong semi-final to lose out on a position in the final by a mere 4.5 seconds - a boat-length in old money.

On Saturday our J15 Coxed Four (Blair Sorbie, Niall Rundle, Daniel McSherry & Atholl Wallace with cox Lewis McCue) claimed a highly respectable 8th place out of 19 in the processional and were looking forward to doing even better in the next round. This however was not to be and the worsening weather conditions compelled the organisers to cancel any further competition at this level and to award the medals according to the places gained in the processional. Our boys ended up 10 seconds short of the bronze medal time.

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National Rowing Championships of GB

At the National Rowing Championships of Great Britain held at the English National Watersports Centre, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham from the 22nd to the 24th of July, our senior girls (seen right) - Lucy Bonnamy (17) & Joy Davies (17) - teamed up with Iona Riley (15) & Jamie Steel (15) to repeat their Scottish Championship success and bring home a brilliant Gold in the Women's Junior 18 Coxed Fours event. It is almost a decade since ASRA girls stroked by a certain Morag Emery last won Gold at this level.

Later on Sunday, Jamie Steel & Iona Riley were joined by Catriona Bain & Rachael Hadjitofi to win Silver in Women's Junior 16 Coxed Fours. Both crews were steered to victory by Association cox Robert Hamlet(14).

Our WJ18 crew - with Catriona Bain rowing in place of Iona Riley - has duly been selected to row for Scotland at the Home Countries International to be held next weekend at the Irish National Rowing Centre at Inniscara, Cork. Lucy and Joy will also represent Scotland in the Women's Junior Coxless Pairs event.

Things went rather less well in our sculling races. Our girls could only come 5th in the final of Women's Junior 15 Quads and our J14 boys - Atholl Wallace, Daniel McSherry, Bair Sorbie & Niall Rundle - although they show distinct improvement every time they race - had to fight hard to reach 7th place out of 11 in men's

Junior 14 Quads. The fact that only 5 seconds separated places 4 to 7 indicates how tough the competition is south of the border even at J14 level.

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National Schools Regatta

At the National Schools Regatta at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham where this year 3500 junior rowers from all over Britain contested 50 different events from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of May, members of our club reached two finals out of four events entered, but were unfortunately not able to emulate Iona & Jamie's cup winning performance of 2006.

Our Under 17 girls - Lucy Bonnamy and Joy Davies - in Championship Girls' Pairs produced the best ASRA result of the weekend by coming in a brilliant fourth in the hotly contested final of that event. They had held silver position for a large part of the race, faded a little in the last 500 metres and were unfortunate in the end to be pipped on the line for the bronze by the girls from Lady Eleanor Holles School. This is the best ever performance by an ASRA crew in this the most feared of all girls' sweep events.

Our Under 15 scullers too - Catriona Bain, Rachael Hadjitofi, Iona Riley, Jamie Steel & cox Robert Hamlet - did well to reach the final in Girls' Under 15 Coxed Quads, an event which started off with a massive entry from 33 clubs. At 500 metres to go, less than a second separated the four crews vying for bronze and in a blanket finish ASRA must consider themselves unlucky to have missed out on a medal.

Our Boys' Under 15 Double - Atholl Wallace & Gary Wilson - having won their first eliminator in grand style were unable to reproduce this fine form in the semi-final where their fourth position ruled them out of a place in the final.

Our Under 14 Scullers in a newly formed crew - Niall Rundle, Blair Sorbie, Robert Hamlet, Daniel McSherry & cox Rachael Hadjitofi - found the going predictably tough in Under 14 First Quads and rather shot themslves in their collective feet with a couple of major crabs early in the race, but certainly they too will have gained a great deal from competing at the highest level in British junior rowing.

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National Schools' Regatta

At the prestigious National Schools' Regatta at the English National Watersports Centre, Nottingham on 26 - 28 May, where annually around 3500 rowers contest 48 different rowing events, ASRA's Junior Under 14 Scullers - Iona Riley (Hazlehead Academy) & Jamie Steel (Harlaw Academy) won Gold and the Tristan Hewins Cup for their outstanding performance in the Girls' Double Sculls event beating the best scullers in their age group over three rounds from 20 Clubs all over England. This is the first time in 40 years that Aberdeen rowers have brought home Gold from this, the biggest and toughest Junior rowing regatta in Britain.

Both our J14 Boys Double - Gary Wilson & Atholl Wallace - and our J18 Girls - Joy Davies, Beady Rice, Seonaid Crosby, Lucy Bonnamy & cox Jamie Steel - were unfortunate to be drawn in the tougher of the two semis on offer in their respective events and to end up fourth in both with times that would have seen them qualify comfortably for the final, had they been in the other semi. Our J16 Girls - our J18s with Danielle McNaughton replacing Seonaid Crosby – were also more than a little unlucky - having survived the processional elimination process in some style - to be allocated lane 1 in their semi - the observably slowest of all the lanes in the prevailing wind conditions on Sunday. It cannot be denied however that the SQA exams which are now in full swing and the consequent lack of crew outings have definitely left their mark on both the technique and fitness levels of our senior girl rowers in particular.

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National Rowing Championships

At the National Rowing Championships of Great Britain in Nottingham from 15th - 17th July, in the Womens Under 16 Coxed Fours event, our girls - Rhona Miller (Cults Academy), Joy Davies (Aberdeen Grammar School), Seonaid Crosby (Robert Gordon's College), Lucy Bonnamy (Cults Academy) & cox Jamie Steel (Harlaw Academy) - reached the final via an emphatic win in Saturday's repêchage only to miss out on the medals by just under a boat length to the girls of Evesham Rowing Club on Sunday.

Our sculling group showed improvements all round but struggled predictably in events which were in most cases a year above their present age group. A full dress rehearsal however for the Nat. Champs. in 2006! Two Scottish caps for the Association this year: Seonaid Crosby has been selected to row in the Scottish Junior Girls' Eight in next Saturday's Home Countries International in Cardiff and Jamie Steel will cox the Scottish Junior Boys' Eight.

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National Schools' Championships

At the National Schools' Championships, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham on 27, 28 & 29 May ASRA entered crews in the MJ15 and WJ16 Fours events. Age-wise the crews were extremely young and the primary aim was to give them experience of an event where an entry of 3,000 competitors is rapidly becoming the norm.

As luck would have it, the weather which had been so benign on Friday for the J14 events, changed dramatically on Saturday and a 28 m.p.h. head wind gusting to 55 m.p.h. forced the organisers to abandon racing on safety grounds before our boys - Arthur Tutenuit, Jonathan Wright, Owen Jenkins, Johnathan Lockhart & cox Atholl Wallace - had a chance to compete.

On Sunday with a return to an 8 m.p.h. headwind our WJ16 entry - Beady Rice(15), Lucy Bonnamy(15), Iona Riley (13), Joy Davies (15) & cox Jamie Steel - entered the lists in the "group of death", a group where the other four crews all progressed through the semis to the final and where two of them medalled. Had we been drawn in either of the other two eliminators, we too would have progressed to the semis and then who knows...? The Bedford High School crew (Schools' Head 2005 WJ16 Champions) which forced our exit in the first round by just four seconds won the bronze medal and the gold medal went to our old rivals George Heriot's of Edinburgh.

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Scottish National Indoor Championships

At the Scottish National Indoor Rowing Championships on Sunday 23rd January held in Dalziel High School, Motherwell, rowers from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association brought home a total of 2 Gold and 6 Silver Medals.

In the Women's Under 12 Event Gold went to Iona Riley of Hazlehead Academy and in the Men's Under 13 Event to Jonathan Wright of Harlaw Academy. Silver went to Shanna Taylor & Catriona Bain (equal second in Women's Under12), Johnathan Lockhart (Men's Under 13), Seonaid Crosby (Women's Under 16), Rowena Burrows (Women's Lightweight Under 18) & Gareth Jones (Men's Under 18).

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