Testing times for GB rowing triallists
With the GB senior, U23 and FISU rowing trials coming up next weekend, it’s been a fraught time for athletes trying to prepare in small boats.
A freezing start to March saw an average temperature of 3.8˚C, which is 1.6˚C below the long-term average. Rainfall for the month was 110% above average, the wind gusted to 84 mph, Gloucestershire saw 57cm on snow and sunshine was 83% of the average. Enter April and for most of the country, the first 4 days were solid rain and wind.
This weekend’s events including Abingdon Spring Head and Bedford Eights & Fours have been cancelled. Water levels at the Caversham lake are currently very high with more water forecast to come down the river in the coming days. Many clubs were able to escape to planned Easter training camps abroad. Edinburgh University Boat Club crews are currently training in Hazewinkel, Belgium but those left behind have had to battle with high river flows and windy conditions.
Philip Bourguignon, head coach at Molesey Boat Club has been feeling the pressure in the run-up to Trials. “Almost our entire women’s squad was struck with illness post WEHoRR which cut down our preparation time. We have now been hit with a river that is on red boards and not suitable for small boats.”
Molesey will have six women at Trials including Katie Bartlett and Rebecca Edwards who finished 9th in the pair at the February Assessment. “In an attempt to get our athletes out in we headed over to Dorney Lake,” says Bourguignon, “but the wind has been tricky and so we haven’t really been able to get any meaningful feedback on how we are doing.”
University of London (ULBC) also have six women and nine men trialling as well as 3 coxes. Hugo Gulliver, ULBC senior coach told WEROW, “We split our training between the top of the Tideway and Dorney Lake. Both bodies of water aren’t affected by stream and you can row on our section of the river in most winds, so we’re pretty lucky.”
ULBC have four men’s pairs entered including Matthew Benstead and Rufus Scholefield who came 11th at the Third Assessment. Gulliver says that his squad have managed to get in some solid small boats training. “The heavy stream conditions which are pushing most clubs off rivers right now isn’t something we have to deal with.”
As things stand trials are set to go ahead as planned and the weather outlook is for overcast skies but no rain. Let’s hope the water that fell earlier in the week can be cleared in time.