Sunday saw the first opportunity for a number of squads to race this season. Upper Thames Autumn Head is a two mile upstream course part of which encompasses the famous Henley Royal Regatta straight. The cold and fresh breeze experienced in Christchurch also contributed to some lively conditions on the Thames with wind against current on the 2k Henley stretch.
The men’s eight of Sam Erwin, Gary Rabbets, Ed Patton, James McKenna, Jeff Hanafin, Duncan Yeabsley, Mike Joscelyne, Gian-Luc Angilioni, and cox. Tara Myring-McCullough were first off for the club in the morning division. They started smoothly with their rate at a comfortable 32 before hitting the choppy conditions which disrupted their rhythm slightly. The crew used their experience to regain control and power through to the finish to claim 1stplace. The Masters pair of Andrew Holloway and James Reynolds were racing in the Open division and despite racing against much younger opposition gained a very credible third place. Kiera Browning and Katya Cherskova were racing in a highly competitive J18 double category and in an unfamiliar boat. The girls held their form over the course and gave the supporters something to cheer about as they passed one of their opposition crews along the Henley straight to get 7th place.
The conditions were very similar for the afternoon and the girls J18 crew of Millie Campbell, Izzy Langridge, Emma Cheetham, Anna Turner, Fleur Howcroft, Kiera Browning, Charley Brad, Katya Cherskova, and cox Ed Erwin were rowing at the senior level for the first time. They settled well in the first kilometre of the race and demonstrated their fighting spirit with a tremendous battle with another eight along the Henley straight to get third place behind an Oxford University crew. Not content with their win in the first division the men’s eight split into two coxed fours. The crew of Sam Erwin, Gary Rabbets, Ed Patton, Gian-Luc Angilioni, and cox Allison Fortt started behind the other four with only the coxswain able to see if they were closing. However, they handled the difficult conditions better and were able to gradually close the gap to grab 1st place with the other crew picking up 2nd place. The final Christchurch crew of the day was Andy Galloway, James Reynolds, Rob Standley, and Mike Kelly in the Masters C quad category used the tail wind conditions extremely well to claim 3rd place in their category.
The impressive results at Upper Thames has encouraged all the squads to step up their winter training efforts to be in top shape for the side by side racing of the spring and summer.