Schools' Head of the River Race

On Monday 12 March, crews from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association competed in the prestigious Schools' Head of the River Race., which takes place annually over a 6.8 kilometre stretch of the Thames from Mortlake to Putney. In both the Men's Junior Championship J15 Eights and the Men's Junior 16 Coxed Fours categories, ASRA put in superlative performances and struck gold on the Tideway for the first time in the club's history. In doing so, ASRA's J15 Eight, with their time of 17.54, set up a new course record for their age group and came in only eleven seconds behind the winners of the Junior 16 Eights.

  • Men's Junior 15 Championship Eights Gold Medallists: Matthew Hughson, Archie Innes, Oscar Forbes, Michel Dearsley, William Bricknell, Scott Lewis, Ashley Geddes and Harris Macdonald, coxed by Skye Ballance

  • Men's Junior 16 Coxed Fours Gold Medallists: Jakub Zbikowski, Xander Beeson, Chris Bardas & Seth Turner, coxed by Hannah Watson

ASRA's girls came in 5th in the highly competitive Women's Junior 18 Coxed Fours category and our senior boys came in respectable 14th in Men's Junior 18 Championship Eights.

On Tuesday 13th March at the Scullery Regatta on Dorney Lake, Eton, our J15 crew swapped sweep blades for sculling ones and Matthew Hughson, Archie Innes, Ashley Geddes & Oscar Forbes, coxed by Skye Ballance took bronze in a massive field of 62, with their teammates coming in 7th.

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ASRA at the SSRC Sweep Head

On Saturday 30th September at the Scottish Schools’ Rowing Council Head Races over a 4 kilometre course on the Forth & Clyde Canal between Banknock and Auchinstarry, 32 members of the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association entered the lists against the best of Scotland’s U18 sweep rowers to win the Scottish Junior Club Champions’ Cup for the 8th year in succession.

Division winners were....

Men’s Junior 18 Coxed Fours & Fastest Crew overall: Theo Stott (Harlaw Academy), Robert Powell, Miles Beeson & Conrad Forbes (all Albyn School) and cox Michael McCrory (Aberdeen Grammar School)

Men’s Junior 16 Coxed Fours & Second Place overall: Jakub Zbikowski (Harlaw Academy)), Xander Beeson (Albyn School), Chris Bardas (Harlaw Academy), Seth Turner (Cults Academy) and cox Hannah Watson (Watson’s College FP)

Men’s Junior 15 Coxed Fours: Harris MacDonald (Albyn School), William Bricknell (Aberdeen Grammar School), Scott Lewis (Mearns Academy) & Michel Dearsley (Cults Academy) and cox Skye Ballance (Cults Academy)

Men’s Junior 14 Coxed Quadruple Sculls: Will Cooper Alex Fowler , Ben Milne (all Albyn School) & Joe Ritchie ( Aberdeen Grammar School)) and coxed by Cheyanne Taylor (Bridge of Don Academy)

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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 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 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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