I am very, very proud of the senior Quad who successfully defended their Fawley Cup title at Henley on Sunday. This week we held a special assembly honouring them and giving them the recognition in the school they deserve.
Henley Royal Regatta is a very prestigious international regatta with some of the best crews in the UK competing with crews from Europe, America and Australia. It is a massive 2,112 metres long and held over five days. It is almost 200 years old. Last year the senior quad won the cup for the first time as an all TWBS crew, and so were defending the title this year.
The crew had a bye and raced first against York City Rowing club beating them comfortably on Thursday in front of invited guests and hospitality marquee courtesy of the WBSBC. Then on Friday they had a race against Westminster School, one of the best and wealthiest school boat clubs in the UK. Westminster were up at the start, but then our boys came through to win in tremendous style. In the semi-finals on Saturday they were up against giants Sidney Rowing Club, Australia, one of the best clubs in Australia and former champions at Henley. At this point the boys put in such a powerful and mature performance they looked like they were in with a very good chance.
The final on Sunday, last race of the day, was against Maidenhead RC. Maidenhead had beaten them at the Nationals and are considered the fastest quad in the UK. Our crew had never beaten them all season. It was going to be a very tough race. But, the race the students put in when it was needed was simply outstanding and of impressive quality. They were side by side for half the race, then showed their determination and drew away to win the final to rapturous applause. And they beat their own existing course record for good measure. Please watch it and listen to the commentary here:
The crew was made up of four tremendous young athletes who have trained so hard: Tom Shewell, Bryn Ellery, Isaac Workman and Sam Bodkin. At the assembly this week the boys came up to a standing ovation from the rest of the school showing them the honour they deserved. Bryn talked to the school about how hard preparation was. Tom explained the race plan and the advice they were given. Isaac encouraged year 9 sitting in the audience how to aspire to achieve what they did. And Sam, who was in his first final at Henley described how it actually felt when he crossed the line.
Their coach Mark Wilkinson, the fifth man in the boat, was invited up too. He has steadily built up a performance platform that enables students to achieve the highest levels of attainment in rowing, like winning at Henley. After the race as Mr Wilkinson stepped out of the umpires launch, somebody rushed up to congratulate him and shake his hand ….. That someone was rowing legend, Sir Steve Redgrave. It just shows how respected Mark is in the rowing world. Mr Wilkinson explained to everyone in the school at the assembly about how much of their success is down to an attitude based upon small steps and day on day improvements, but consistently applying yourself and not quitting. This approach can apply to academic study equally. He said he has never worked with crew who has shown so much commitment to the process to outcome approach. The said their attitude was faultless and showed in the way they trained and raced. He also praised the support that the parents and friends, and the rest of the boys in the club, have given to the success of the event.
They have pulled off an amazing achievement, making the most emphatic statement about the Windsor Boys School Boat Club by winning Henley not only once, but twice in a row. They have done themselves, their coaches, their club and the school proud. They have our deepest respect. Well done.