Monday, 23 June 2008

Women's Henley 2008

Off the back of their recent training camp in Germany and the previous weekend's racing at Reading Amateur Regatta, Friday 20th June 2008 saw Vicky and Gemma start their first Women's Henley experience with wins in the Senior Singles category. Of the 19 entries 6 had races on the Friday, 3 of whom were from Bath with Gemma racing Bath University's Anna Davidson. In a moderate headwind Anna took the early lead whilst Gemma waited patiently for the last 250m where she powered through for the win, by 1 length. Vicky's Friday race was the first in a line of easy wins which continued through the regatta.

Gemma proceeded to encounter tougher opposition in the form of fellow World Class Start athlete Jennie Farmer from Molesey Boat Club on Saturday morning. In similar to fashion to Friday's race, Gemma stalked Farmer for the length of the course before pouncing in the last 250m again to win by 3ft in a time of 6:18 which proved to be the fastest time of the event. This time also beats the previous U23 singles record which was set in 2004 by current GB Women's Eight rower, Jess Eddie.

After another round of racing where both girls won easily, the semi finals loomed on Sunday morning with a raging headwind straight down the course. After leading her opposition for 1250m, Gemma fell foul of the wind in the last 250m where she caught 5 crabs in a row whilst her opponent took advantage of this to row through and win by 1 1/2 lengths to deny us an all Minerva final.

Meanwhile, Vicky calmly despatched her opponent to progress smoothly through to the final where she blasted out of the blocks to lead Claffey from University College Dublin from start to finish. At the barrier, Claffey looked over her shoulder to check Vicky's progress and appeared to quickly resign herself to the fact that the race was already over. Vicky continued to plow through the waves to record an 'Easily' verdict. Rather impressive for someone who has been rowing for 7 months!

Vicky and Gemma are both products of the Amateur Rowing Association's World Class Start Scheme sponsored by Siemens, a unique talent identification and development scheme. The programme is funded by UK Sport with Lottery money and since 2006 is sponsored by Siemens. The programme at Bath has identified four athletes for Great Britain teams in the past four years including one U23 World Champion and is run by
Paul Stannard, Performance Development Coach, GB Rowing. The athletes in Bath train at the University of Bath and at Minerva Bath Rowing Club.

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