The Windsor Boys’ School Boat Club

The Boat Club – Hey, Let’s Do it Anyway!

Rowing weekends are nothing if not epic in their planning, logistics and then the execution of the plan. With over 100 boys rowing at The Windsor Boys’ School and very limited coaching capacity, outside the box thinking is always necessary to ensure the boys have the very best opportunity to showcase their rowing prowess. The attitude is always, “let’s do it anyway” and “why can’t we do it?” Above all else, “Don’t tell us we are only a state comp”!

The weekend gone was no exception. Typically, the weekend planning starts weeks in advance, but in the preceding week, it comes down to ensuring all equipment, coaches, boys and parents are in the right place at the right time, and actually knowing what they are doing. On Saturday 15 boys were competing at Dorney Lake at the regional qualification races, where if they were successful they could achieve selection to the Thames Upriver Regional team that would go to Nottingham to compete in the Junior Inter-Regional Championships in April. Saturday also saw the senior squad training on the river in the morning and then being involved with ‘competitive training’ at Dorney Lake, racing Eton College, University of London, Tideway Scullers Rowing Club and the Oxford University Women’s Blue Boat race crew, due to be racing in a few weeks’ time up on the tideway in front of millions on TV and live at the event. Meanwhile back at the boathouse the remaining year 10 squad were training on the river, before helping turn all the equipment around ready for the year 9 squad to travel to Hampton on Sunday for a private match, and unusual event in the rowing calendar, but one that should be pushed more and more to assist developing rowers in a more controllable environment. As ever just having the events in place is the easy bit; loading trailers, moving equipment (especially equipment used by multiple squads), moving coaches and more is the challenging bit. To put it simply it is a massive juggling act, and normally involves the coaches running around multiple venues and driving countless miles, to ensure that every boy has their opportunity. Friday night saw multiple journeys to Dorney Lake to get everything ready for Saturday. Saturday started at 05:30, and ran through to 20:30, with again multiple trips to Dorney Lake and on Sunday from 07.00 until 18:00. And don’t forget about Friday night and Monday morning. The result? – a fantastic weekend for all the boys, and something, along with music, drama other sports and more that really sets The Windsor Boys’ School apart from the “bog standard” state comprehensive.

Thames Upriver Qualification Races – Dorney Lake, Saturday 11th march

15 boys from the J14, 15 and 16 squads were entered into the Thames Upriver Qualification races, held at Dorney Lake. The trial held over 1500m, is a straight winner takes all situation, and is a great introduction to trialing, and the first opportunity to gain a representational honour in their rowing careers.

It is very early days for the J14 squad, but the crew of Adam Lawson, Joe Wilcock, Oliver Pilbrow, Matthew King and cox Fraser Upton did really well in their race and definitely learnt a lot! They have a lot of potential and it will be great to see them develop along with the rest of the J14 squad over the next few weeks and months. 

The J15 quad of Oliver Traynor, Julian Van Gelderen, Daniel Shaw, and Harvey Viotto with cox Max Smith raced really well to win their trial and become selected to the team. They are developing all the time and are learning to train really well which is great to see. Their future, along with the rest of the squad is exciting.

The J16 quad of Matthew Tebbit, Tom Howse, Ben Pilbrow, and Ferdy Cleare also raced really well and also achieved selection to the team, winning off a crew from Wallingford. This was a great result for this crew and their continued development as a whole squad is good to see.

Oliver Traynor and Matthew Tebbit also competed in the singles, and Harvey Viotto, Julian Van Gelderen, Tom Howse and Ferdy Cleare also competed in the doubles in the respective age groups, but having qualified for the quads, it was decided that they would take these selections as they can only be selected to one boat category.

Well done to all the boys who raced!

Training Saturday AM and PM 

Over 50 boys who were not racing at Dorney were training on Saturday morning at the boathouse and again at 14:00. The senior squad trained over 25km on Saturday morning before heading home for a break and then heading to Dorney Lake for 13:30 to race in the Eton Invitational. Meanwhile the J15 squad who did not race in the morning, trained really well between 14:00 and 17:00.

Dorney Lake Invitational

The senior squad were involved in “competitive training” at Dorney Lake on Saturday afternoon, and raced against Eton College, Tideway Scullers Rowing Club, University of London and the Oxford University Women’s Blue Boat (look out for them on TV in a few weeks time). The extremely intense racing involved multiple race pieces over 1000m and was highly competitive. Although strictly training, and thus a “friendly” the crews from all clubs raced with extreme intensity, and the session was a hugely valuable experience for all! Well done to all!

Sunday – J14 Squad invitational to Hampton School

Sunday saw nearly 40 of the nearly 60 strong J14 year 9 squad travel to Hampton for a private match. Again, although strictly a friendly, the day was hugely competitive, but also with a really important curve of learning. Rowing is very challenging on more levels than just racing. Boys need to learn to handle the equipment, including rigging, de-rigging, marshalling, boating, turning, racing, and more. Using a “private match“ to elevate their experience means that we can expose the boys to this in a really controllable environment which is great. Hampton School were our generous hosts, and they put on a great day including lunch for the boys, and much welcomed doughnuts at the end of the day.

After unloading and rigging the boat, the morning session saw the boys racing twice over a 1900m time trial course – the crews set off one at a time and it was a race against the clock. Following this the boys were into the impressive millennium boathouse for lunch before heading to the water again to race side by side over an 800m course. Each boy competed up to four times over the course, side by side against other crews from Hampton. Lots of drama, lots of mistakes, but lots of fun, and definitely competitive! It was a great experience, and when the time came to head in there was a lot of disappointment that the racing was finished. After de-rigging the boats and loading them onto the trailer, one last treat as doughnuts arrived for everyone which was a great way to end a fantastic day – huge thanks to Hampton School Boat Club for hosting us!

Onwards we go – the national head of river races are just three weeks away, before four of the boys head to the British selection trials in Nottingham, and then 37 boys head to Germany for the annual training camp over 14 days. Back home will see 50 + year 9s involved in their own training camp during the Easter Break too.

Rowing, it is exciting, but don’t forget the unloading and re-rigging at 07.00 am on Monday morning! Back to school tomorrow to recover! 🙂  

Onwards we go!

Mr M Wilkinson
Director of Rowing