Celebration for Claires Court at the National Schools Regatta
Claires Court had several crews racing at the National Schools Regatta 27 to 29 May, which was held at Dorney Lake rather than its traditional venue of the National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham.
On Friday Claires Court had two J14 (year 9) quads, one in the A event and one in the B event, and three J15 (year 10) quads racing, one in the A event and two in the B event. The J14 A crew missed the A final but won the B final, ranking 7th in the country. The J14 B crew had a good start to their B final but ran out of steam in the closing stages and took 5th place, just behind Monmouth school.
The J15’s had a great start to the day with two crews making it through to the A and B event A/B semi-finals. Both crews missed out on making it to the A finals in their event. Due to a mix up from the event organisers the boys were unable to race their finals, so a final rank order was not possible but both of these boats took a huge step on from where they were in March at the National Junior Sculling Head.
On Saturday it was the turn of the seniors, racing in the J18 1st eight and Championship quad. Both boats had to go through the time trial in the morning; the eight were disappointed with their result, being the fastest crew to not make it into the semi-finals, having to make do with the D final. The boys took this race by the scruff of the neck, gaining an early lead which they extended as the race went on, and winning in the end by 8 seconds! The boys were bitterly disappointed not to get through to the semi-finals proper but hopefully this was some sort of consolation.
The boys quad of Finlay Gronmark, Jono Cameron, Alex Richardson and Oliver Costley, had a good start to the day, in a field of 34 quads from all over the British Isles, they won the time trial by seven seconds, putting them into the semi-final against a number of clubs including local rivals Windsor Boys. Windsor took an early lead in the semi, as Claires Court were caught napping a little in the first half. In the second half they had to put the afterburners on a little to be able to pull through Windsor, which they did in the 3rd quarter, putting them into 1st position, which they held to the finish line. Northwich also made it through to the final from that semi, alongside Leander, Marlow, Maidenhead and Lea RC to make up the seven boat final.
Claires Court were well pumped up for the final, Windsor still led them to 500m but at half way, the crews were level. In the 3rd 500m Claires Court started to pull away from Windsor, but Windsor didn’t stop there, going again at Claires Court with about 500m to go, closing the distance between the crews to about two thirds of a length. Claires Court put their all into a final sprint to in the end win the event by one length over Windsor Boys School Boat Cub, with Leander Club in the Bronze medal position.
On Sunday the quad from the previous day broke down into two boys Championship Doubles. Again the day started with a time trial, as the entry for this event was huge… 63 of the top doubles in the country. The lads knew that they would be up against it in the time trial but in the end came away with 1st and 3rd place overall! The boys avoided each other in the semi-final where Jono Cameron and Alex Richardson had a tough semi and in the end came away with 3rd place but still qualified for the final with a very good time. In the other semi, Finlay Gronmark and Oliver Costley were racing against 2nd place from the TT; Glasgow Academy/Clydesdale, which included Junior World Champion, from last year’s World Championships in Rio, Josh Armstrong. The boys were dropped off the start but got into a good rhythm and rowed through the Scottish double in the second half of the race to take 1st place and a position in the 7 boat final.
In the final, the Claires Court double of Cameron and Richardson took an early lead but were rowed through just after the halfway marker by a tough field, including the other CCSBC double of Costley and Gronmark. In the end the double from Windsor Boys were just that bit too strong and in the end took gold, with Nottingham in silver and CCSBC (Gronmark/Costley) in Bronze with CCSBC (Cameron and Richardson) in 4th.
Coach Tom Jost said: This weekend has been such a huge achievement for us, only three years ago didn’t even have any J18 boys rowing, so to go from nothing to winning the Championship Quads title at the National Schools Regatta, having two doubles in the top four in the country and a handful of other encouraging results, in that short amount of time is amazing. We still have four weeks until Henley Royal Regatta but I am so proud of what the boys and coaching team have done and to be rewarded with a gold medal is fantastic.