The Jet Stream obliged by shifting a little to the north, providing a welcome break from the blustery and unsettled conditions of the previous weeks. Good news for the twenty enthusiastic juniors representing Christchurch RC at Bryanston School for an afternoon of racing over 750 metres of the Dorset Stour.
The ‘Stampede’ is an invitational ‘head-race’ event aimed at Junior 14 and 15 crews looking to gain race experience within a format providing plenty of competition without the ‘formality’ of the more mainstream events. And an ideal opportunity for J14s to experience competitive rowing for the first time. All races for quad sculls (with coxswain).
The format was simple, launch boats and just keep them topped-up with rowers, swapping and mixing crews over a 2 hour period. We managed 13 races comprising J14 and J15 crews - boys’, girls’ and mixed. Every run was timed and at end the fastest crew in each category was awarded medals to mark the achievement. But the most important thing was to have a go and have fun!
We were in good company with crews from Bryanston School, Canford School and Lymington Rowing Club. Between us we managed a total of 65 races, more or less a race every two minutes. Very good going and completely avoiding the endless waiting in marshalling areas usually associated with head-racing.
Four categories were up for grabs and Christchurch crews topped the table in three of them. The J14 girls’ crew of Wallis Van Dam, Arabella Ozanne, Izzy Price, Maddie Grainger and Cian Everett (cox) raced twice, not only recording the fastest time in their category but also the second fastest as well. An impressive performance considering this was their first competitive outing. Emma-Jo Evans, Jess Larner, Bethan Harbut, Millie Thomas and Verity Leat (cox) were delighted with their first row in the wooden quad ‘Castlemaine’ and made the most of it by setting the fastest time in the girls’ J15 category early on. They were not caught. Christchurch crews were first, second and third in boys’ J15 with Cian Everett, Oli Gillingham, Ben Ingrem, Miles Edicott and Maddie Grainger (cox) taking the gold medal.
The boys’ J14 division was by far the largest and our rowers acquitted themselves very well in their first ever races. Harry Pearson, Joe Durward, Sam Goddard Dwyer, Fergus Pitcher and Archie Simpson were included in crews which recorded competitive times against some well -drilled competition. Harry also raced in a J15 crew managing the second fastest time overall. Amy Starks and Annabelle Donaldson rowed very well in J15 girls’ and mixed crews returning very impressive times.
It was pleasing that Christchurch crews attracted complimentary remarks on their tidy sculling from spectators and the commentator via the PA system.
The usual excellent Bryanston hospitality drew praise from spectators and rowers alike. A friendly atmosphere with sandwiches, cakes and drinks in plentiful supply. All in all a great afternoon’s racing.