Itchen Junior Regatta

Itchen Junior Regatta – Saturday 5th October 2019

An enthusiastic squad of young rowers representing Christchurch Rowing Club competed at the annual Junior Regatta hosted by Southampton’s Itchen Imperial Rowing Club on Saturday 5th October. Bright and unseasonably agreeable conditions, crowds of enthusiastic competitors and plenty of vocal support provided the ingredients for a good day’s racing downstream of the 800m long toll-bridge on the lower reaches of the River Itchen. Spectators and supporters were treated to some close and exciting racing.

Fifteen Christchurch crews contested twelve of the forty events, winning eight outright with two of those being all Christchurch finals. The remaining four races in which Christchurch crews competed were no less exciting providing valuable race experience for those involved.

In the girls’ J15 double sculls. Any Starks and Verity Leat won their heat to make the final as did their club-mates Bethan Harbut and Millie Thomas. It was a close-fought contest with Bethan and Millie taking the honours on this occasion.

A controlled row in the boys’ J14 quadruple sculls event saw home James Armstrong, Sam Goddard, Fergus Pitcher, Archie Simpson and coxswain Ed Erwin to take the win in their first outing in this combination. The boys’ J15 quadruple scull crew also won their heat and final in impressive style. Oli Gillingham, Cian Everett, Ben Ingrem, Joshua Brangan and coxswain Bay Hill are well practised in this event and it showed.

Wallis Van Damn was next to take to the water for Christchurch and her assured performance in the girls’ J14 single sculls made sure of the gold medal. Annabelle Donaldson and Maddie Grainger competed in the girls’ J15 single sculls with Maddie taking the honours.

A Silver medal position in the boys’ J14 double sculls for the promising combination of Joe Durward and Harry Pearson and with an equally spirited performance in the girls’ J15 quadruple sculls event Indy Wills, Ava Hewitt, Arabella Ozanne, Izzy Price and Wallis Van Damn (coxswain) just lost out to a quality Itchen Crew.

The boys’ J16 sculls event is always the ‘blue riband’ event at Itchen and this year did not disappoint. Joshua Brangan took the win with an impressive display of power and determination.

An all-out sprint finish by Cian Everett and Ben Ingrem in the boys’ J15 double sculls was cut cruelly short by a broken oar. It would have been a photo-finish otherwise. The girls’ J16 double sculls event with Bethan Harbut and Annabelle Donaldson was another close contest with a solid performance from the girls.

Girls’ J16 quadruple sculls next and the combination of Maddie Grainger, Verity Leat, Bethan Harbut and Millie Thomas (coxswain Ed Erwin) proved to be a winning one. But for entertainment value, the girls’ J14 double-sculls was without doubt one of the highlights. Two Christchurch crews made the final and battled it out in a strengthening cross-wind. Nothing to separate the boats – literally – and the second of two clashes forced a re-start half-way along the course. In the end Arabella Ozanne and Indy Wills managed to find the finish just ahead of Ava Hewitt and Izzy Price to close out a great contest.

The squad will now embark on a testing regime of winter training, both on the water and in the gym, to prepare for the season’s challenges.

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