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Henley Women's Regatta Winners Groton Challenge Cup

From the 17th to the 19th June, 3 crews from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association joined 2000 athletes from all over Britain and beyond to take part in the annual Henley Women’s Regatta, held on a 1500 metre course on the Thames from Temple Island to the Remenham Club.

All three crews emerged successfully from the time trials to take their place in the fierce side-by-side stages of the competition for the West End Amateur Rowing Association Trophy for Women’ Junior 16 Coxed Fours and the Groton School Challenge Cup for Women’s Junior 18 Coxed Fours.

Our Junior 16 girls – Teresa Brew, Emily Simpson, Charlotte Arthur and Maggie Seward, coxed by Sam Cordiner - were unfortunate to come up against one of the top seeded crews in the first round, but put up a tremendous fighting display against the girls of Headington School and only lost out to them in the end by a second in a photo finish.

Our Junior 18 Girls “B” crew- Sophia Brew, Ella Brooks, Freya Cummine , Gemma Collins, coxed by Rory Trythall - suffered a similar fate and were bettered in their first round by the very experienced local girls from Henley Rowing Club.

It was a rather different story however for our formidable Junior 18 “A” crew, where Rosie Wilson and Freya Hughson and cox Lily Arthur joined forces with our GB golden girls from Munich, Maisie Aspinall and Zoe Beeson. By virtue of their first place in the time trial they were awarded a bye into the quarter final, where they proved too strong for a feisty Clydesdale/ Molesey BC composite and in the semi-final they beat a strong four from Lady Eleanor Holles School by 2 ½ lengths to set up an all Scottish final against the National Rowing Academy select from Glasgow Academy, George Watson’s College, George Heriot’s School and St Andrew Boat Club. There they not only won by a handsome 4 ¾ lengths, but beat the course record for Junior Coxed Fours by two seconds to win in a time of 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

Aberdeen rowing cognoscenti will be aware this is in fact the second time that ASRA has won the prestigious Groton Challenge Cup. Back in the 2012 HWR final , Holly Reid – now ASRA’s Development Coach - crewed with Morven Shaw, Emily Geddes, Christie Duff and cox Charlotte Davie to beat the American girls from the Merion Mercy Academy to bring back the trophy to Aberdeen.

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Henley Women's Regatta

On the 22nd June our ASRA Senior Girls travelled down to the prestigious 3-day Henley Women’s Regatta on the Thames in order to enter the lists again after a gap of three years in the Girls’ Champion Coxed Fours event for the Groton Cup. 18 clubs including all the usual household names from the length and breadth of England and three crews from the USA took part in the event this year.

ASRA’s Abigail Topp, Ellie Andrew, Megan Lewis & Megan Hewison, coxed by Will Cooper had not had the best of preparations for this regatta due to heavy exam commitments and illness, but put up a good performance to come 7th out of 18 in the Time Trials on Saturday and then made short work of the girls from Maidstone Invicta in the first round in order to progress to the last eight on Sunday morning. The USA Scholastic Junior Champions from Lower Merion High School, Pennsylvania, proved however to be a much tougher proposition, and having slipped in the second 500 metres to a three length deficit, our girls’ heroic challenges in the last 500 metres were just not enough in the end to secure a place in the semi-final.

This crew is eligible to compete in this event again in 2019 and there is little doubt that, given sufficient commitment, they are eminently capable of emulating ASRA’s Christie Duff, Emily Geddes, Holly Reid & Morven Shaw ,who brought the Groton Cup back to Aberdeen in 2012, despite having been eliminated in the quarter final of the event in 2011.

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2009 - Women's Henley Regatta

On Saturday 20th June girls from ASRA took part for the first time ever in the Women's Henley Regatta and 21 crews from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada and the USA lined up to compete for the the Groton Challenge Cup. Our girls - fresh from their victories in coxed and coxless fours at the Scottish Championships - rowed comfortably enough through the time trials stage, despite a blustery head wind, to qualify for the competition proper, unofficially in 8th equal position out of 21. Too comfortably as it turned out, since they ended up in the bottom half of the draw where it was their misfortune to be pitched against top seeds and fastest qualifiers, the American girls from Peddie School, New Jersey, in the first knock-out round of the competition.

2009 results 4

The self-styled Falcons had in fact been crowned North American Champions in Coxed Fours the previous week at the US Rowing Youth National Championships on Harsha Lake in Batavia, Ohio and now demonstrated in no mean fashion that their emphatic victory stateside by a full 10 seconds over the runners-up from Mercer Junior Rowing Club had been no accident. Our girls put up their usual blistering start - 47 strokes a minute - and by the end of Temple Island were still showing a slight lead over the American girls. From then on however the the Falcons put on a show of incredible power and disciplined rowing that left us floundering in their wake. Our girls did not give up easily and lifted the rating again and again to try to claw back some of the increasing lead being established by the Americans. By the last five hundred however it was clear that for the now perfect windless rowing conditions on the course we were chronically undergeared and that increased rating alone was not going to make up for our lack of leverage.

A great deal was learned however and the girls and accompanying coaches felt the experience to be extremely worthwhile. We now know the course and the challenges involved in competition on the Henley course and on a future occasion, amongst other things, would insist on hotel accommodation for our athletes and allow ourselves at least 2 days acclimatisation and fine tuning on the course prior to the regatta. One half hour outing the evening before was plainly not enough!

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