Henley Women's Regatta 2015
It’s safe to say that for the 9 Agecroft Women racing at Henley Women's Regatta (HWR, 19 - 21st June, 2015) this year it hadn’t been the smoothest of years, or even summers, but we were hopeful things were moving in the right direction.
The Journey to Henley
After boat loading on the Thursday morning we all headed down South full of excitement for the weekend ahead. It helped that the forecast was looking much nicer in the South than the one we had been used to in Manchester all Summer (pretty much gale-force winds and rain daily, you have to love the North!), and of course a first class playlist.
After arriving, rigging and a very warm paddle, resulting in some interesting lycra lines we were all lucky enough to be put up by either Cat or Ellie's families so were staying in comfort. The hardest decision we had to make was what food we could cook that wasn’t too exotic for Terri, (Sorry Terri!). Racing we had a Club 4+ of Maddie (Cox), Fran Barrand, Cat Taube, Charlotte Grandfield and Terri Maynard, 2 Senior 1x, Olivia Salt and Holly McMullen, Elite 1x Georgina Grandfield, and Elite Lwt 1x Ellie Lewis.
The day dawned with us all full of nerves and excitement, and in the first time trial of the day we had our Club 4+ racing. With 40 clubs entered, with the top 16 qualifying for the next rounds, we knew it was going to be tough. Yet, we were ready to give it our all and prepared to have the best race of the season. After some very busy marshalling, we had a strong row, sadly just falling short in 19th place. Aside from the disappointment of the season suddenly being over, the fact that it’s been such a great crew to train and race with made the blow a bit easier, and we have enough hashtags and selfies to last a life time. We then had the chance to support the rest of the girls and friends from other clubs, whilst starting the plans for an even more successful Henley 2016 campaign, or the #2yearplan as it has become known. So here is too much greater success in the club events next year!
Onto the World Class Start Girls who didn’t start racing till the Saturday. First up the Senior 1x- we had Liv Salt, racing Clutterbuck from York University; leading from the start she had a comfortable win by 4 Lengths. Next up, Holly racing ex Agecroft now TSS athlete Brown, again taking command of the race winning by 3 1/2 lengths setting up an all Agecroft Semi on the Sunday. We had a lovely Club meal full of laughs on the Saturday evening with the juniors and our merry supporters and ended the day hopeful that Sunday could see a few Agecroft wins.
After a long two day wait, Georgie and Ellie began their racing on the Sunday meaning we had plenty to watch and cheer for. We got down early to see Ellie Boating for the ELwt1x against Hayes from Mosley. Ellie was ahead from the start and edged away stroke by stroke to reach the final with a 1 ¾ length victory.
Next up we had the Agecroft vs. Agecroft Semi, a great excuse for us as supporters as we just had to make as much Agecroft noise as possible, though I can imagine not easy for Liv or Holly to have to race each other as friends and training buddies. Holly blasted off the start and took a length lead, however Liv kept her cool and pulled through in the last 600m for a 2 ¼ length to make a second Agecroft representative in a final.
Finally Georgie got her chance to race, and to put some of her previous HWR demons behind her. She was drawn against an Israeli International who raced at Worlds last year so we knew it was going to be tough. As her sister, I really need to learn to control my own nerves when she’s racing, but she kept her nerve with a strong start, pulling away to an easy 5 length lead, and with that Agecroft had 3 Finalists.
In the end, it sadly it wasn’t meant to be this year for any of the Agecroft ladies, with all 3 losing to some very strong opposition in the Finals, but having seen some of the battles some of them have gone through with Injuries and Illness through the winter, the future is definitely bright for them all.
Planning for Next Year
We may not have got the results that we wanted this season and at HWR, but the old saying, "what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger" definitely applies to this group of girls who are already looking forward to 2015/16 season. With some new and old faces, #2yearplan is well and truly underway.
It really is a privilege to be part of such a wonderful sport, club and squad. It is amazing how much Henley Women’s has grown in numbers and standard just in the year I have been rowing, and it will be bigger still next year. It’s such an amazing advert for the sport of rowing in the UK, and Women’s sport in general, and who knows where the event will be in 5 years’ time.
Massive shout out also to our wonderful group of cheerleaders, and everyone who has supported us through the season, and of course to our resident famous photographer Jo! Here’s to next year, hard work, fun times, selfies and lots of Wins, the Henley countdown has already started!
Charlotte Grandfield, Agecroft Women's Captain
1st August 2015
This was the first time in recent years that Juniors from Agecroft went to Women's Henley. We were lucky to be able to stay at Mollie's house, a wonderful place at the end of the fair mile. (We have already booked it for next year!) We, like the senior women, are on a 2 year plan. This year was all about having a look around & hopefully not doing too badly in qualifying. But, as things turned out we were fortunate to do a little better than we expected, with two boats qualifying for heats and the third crew narrowly missing out.
Feedback from all crews was positive and reflective. The double of Gledisa Musollari and Sophie Dooley were ecstatic to find that they had qualified after a solid performance in the time trials and gained valuable experience from their first side by side racing. Their capability was put into perspective: their hard work and dedication had paid off and they can't wait to fight harder next year.
Helen Leigh, in the single, heard positive feedback from the commentators during her racing such as, "long and strong", emphasising the Agecroft style. She finished the course in the fastest time of our crews throughout the weekend. Helen believes that upping the rate will stand her in good chances for next year. Whilst Lauren Barclay sadly didn't qualify, she has taken a lot from the experience and is raring to train for next year.
All of us really enjoyed Women’s Henley and with another year of training we’ll be back stronger and more confident. We hope to achieve more and aim to enter a bigger squad. The experience has motivated us all as we believe winning is within our reach. Our team spirits are soaring which thankfully eases the training. Finally, we would like to thank our coach (Steven Hitchin) thoroughly for his commitment and confidence in us, also driving us miles upon miles to compete!
10th August 2015
All photos courtesy of JE Jeffreys