Hartpury’s rowers battled tricky conditions to record their first win of the season with victory in the women’s quad at the ‘Schools Head’ event in London.
A-level students Chloe Brew, Alice Bowyer and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne were joined by Gloucester-Hartpury AASE student Flo Pickles as they stormed to a convincing 30-second victory over Latymer School over the 4.25 mile course.
Starting second behind Latymer the crew had to come from behind but a quick start in particularly challenging windy and rainy conditions allowed them to pass their rivals by the halfway stage.
The event, raced along the Thames, marks the start of the rowing season and is the first of four major national events for the Under-18s rowers. It will be followed by the National Schools Regatta in May, Women’s Henley Regatta in June and Henley Royal Regatta in July. These four events are targeted by the top school and club junior programmes in the country.
Hartpury’s rowing coach, Tom Pattichis, said: “This was a great start to the season, particularly as the crew had two last minute changes due to injury.
“We know tougher challenges lay ahead as two or three of our likely main rivals in the women’s quads chose to race the women’s eights at the Schools Head, meaning the competition wasn’t as tough as it will ultimately be. It was a great start though as we head into the summer season.”.”
This was also the first time three crews have been entered into this event under the Gloucester-Hartpury banner, having only previously entered one, showing the strength in depth of the rowing programmes
Also racing were a boys quad made up of BTEC Sports Coaching student James Bird, and A-level students Jack Williams, Joe Barnes and Will Kemp. This was the first boys crew the programme has ever put out at the Schools Head, and it was Will Kemp’s first ever quad race, having started at Hartpury in September as a non-rower. He was recruited as part of the GB Rowing Team ‘Start’ talent identification programme. The crew finished in fourth place.
The second girls crew was made up of BTEC Sports Coaching student Francesca Ford, A-level students Amy Binnion and Sophia Heath, and Gloucester-Hartpury rower Jo Pagon and they finished fifth in the girls quads category.
The rowers now head out to an Easter training camp in Belgium, with the regatta season getting into full swing in May.