Abingdon School and Headington rowers celebrated remarkable doubles when they both retained the National Schools’ Championship eights titles at Nottingham on Sunday, writes Mike Rosewell.
The Abingdon coach Dave Currie, a former GB international and Henley winner, could sit proudlydown to breakfast on Monday, with the Queen Mother’s Cup in the middle of the table.
Currie said: “We had not had a good run into it, but the boys had motivation and patience.”
His husky-sounding voice was matched by that of Ryan Demaine, the Headington rowing supremo whose girls had done him proud and had defended the Women’s Championship Eights with plenty to spare.
Demaine thought that his girl’s eight were “a very exceptional unit.”
Who would argue since they wrote off their opponents and won by more than ten seconds!
That, however, was not the end of the story for Abingdon and Headington.
With their younger crews, Abingdon also won silver in the second eights event on Saturday, while Headington took two more silvers on Friday and a gold, silver and bronze on Sunday. Quite a haul.
As invariably happens, there were the hard luck stories.
Headington had one of their girls J15 fours disqualified, while the St Edward’s first eight, tipped for a top-three place, possibly gold, in the build-up for the Championship Eights in their approach, suffered a big blow.
Teddies were on the way to the start of their first race when their stroke man, Olly Knight suffered rib pain and clearly could not go on.
Knight, avowedly one of GB’s top juniors, was replaced swiftly by Charlie Smith, the school’s second eight stroke, who had never rowed in the first crew.
Getting used to each other, the new combination got through the qualifier and won their semi-final.
But the final was a bridge too far and they finished fourth in the final with Radley College, also qualifiers, two spots behind them in sixth place.
Radley did win the J14 quads and the J15 eights and took a further silver.
City of Oxford won the J15 doubles on Friday.
Hinksey, a club on the up, took a bronze in the J16 Girls eights.
Wallingford RC’s top J16 quad scull of Tim Waller, Alex Lyons, David Wilcox and Henry Edwards won the silver medal, missing out on the gold medal by less than three feet.
And the club’s Championship girls double scull of Katie Metalli and Alice Walker got a creditable fourth against some very strong crews.