Round’s battlers fight to the finish

ST NEOTS Rowing Club was represented at Henley Women s Regatta last weekend in three events. Unfortunately, the draw was not kind to the two junior crews but hopes were high for Jacqui Round and her Under 23 Great Britain team of four in the elite coxles

ST NEOTS Rowing Club was represented at Henley Women's Regatta last weekend in three events.

Unfortunately, the draw was not kind to the two junior crews but hopes were high for Jacqui Round and her Under 23 Great Britain team of four in the elite coxless fours event.

Round's crew got off to a good start but not quite as good as the Scottish Commonwealth crew - they were racing and at the end of the island they were about a canvas down.

The two crews remained like this for another minute until the Scottish crew began to steer towards the U23 boat.

Instead of holding their line the U23's moved away and as a result hit the infamous Henley wooden booms.

They missed a couple of strokes and had to get themselves back on the course and restart. Although they did this quickly their opponents were able to open up a lead of just over a length.

Most Read

Round's crew chased hard but had lost their rhythm and only started to make ground in the last 300m, crossing the line half-a-length behind.

In the Women's Junior coxed fours, three St Neots members, Rosie Henderson, Katie Loades and Abby Jones coxing, were joined by Jenny Cogger of Gloucester and Zoë Johnson of Worcester.

On paper this was one of the 'fancied' crews but they faced tough competition from one of the top American schools, Groton.

The Saints crew had only had the previous weekend to get together and were known not to be fast from the start but were expected to be able to draw back on their opponents through their strength.

The race plan almost unfolded as expected with the Saints crew a half length behind at the beginning of the island.

However, when they were expected to be able to pull back between two and four minutes they actually allowed the Americans to extend their lead to a length.

It was not until the last 250 metres that they began to move up and were closing quickly. The response had, however, been left too late and they went down by half a length.

The toughest draw of all was reserved for the youngest crew that St Neots put out with Joanna Fitzsimons and Natalie Bream in the double sculls.

They were unlucky to be drawn against two Great Britain internationals and favourites for the event from Maidenhead.

The St Neots girls performed admirably but were left behind from the first stroke by the high rating Maidenhead crew eventually finishing three and a half lengths behind in the fastest time in the vent.

The only consultation was that Maidenhead did go on to win the event and beat all the other opponents by a bigger margin.

While the women were at Henley the St Neots boys were racing at Marlow Regatta in an attempt to gain automatic selection for the Henley Royal Regatta.

The crew was made up of Sam Howell and Toby Hetherington from St Neots and Josh Butler and Josh Williamson from Star Club in Bedford.

This crew has already raced together several times this year, gaining some good race experience along the way.

They were, however, drawn into the hardest of the three heats.

Although Howell is still only 14 he has been stroking the crew like someone with many more years experience and on Saturday he and his crew performed extremely well.

They came second in their heat of five behind a crew with the country's top junior scullers. This put them into competition with the second and third placed crews from the other two heats.

With the first three to qualify for the final they made sure by winning and beating some good crews on the way. In the final they held nothing back and stormed through the race finishing a very good third place behind the Great Britain scullers and a very good crew from Windsor.

The boys were rewarded for their efforts by being informed that they had gained their direct entry to Henley Royal Regatta rather than having to go through a qualifying race.