Wallingford Regatta 2014

Exeter Rowing Club Senior crews make a strong start to the racing season at Wallingford Regatta.
Wallingford regatta is one of the biggest multi-lane racing events in the rowing calendar. At the crack of dawn on Sunday 4th May the first crews were preparing to take to Dorney Lake for the opening regatta of the season. The morning sun and mirror-like water made up for the early start and allowed the wind and rain of the head season to become a distant memory.
The first Exeter crew to take to the water was the Men’s Club 4+ composed of Jonty Webber, Jo Thorpe, David Ord, Paul Minchell and cox Emily Boother. There were 3 heats for this event, the winner of each heat would go straight into the final and the next 3 fastest crews would fill the remaining places – everything was to play for. The Exeter men had a fantastic race finishing in second position with a time fast enough to qualify them for the final.
Next to launch onto the Olympic Lake was the Women’s Club 8+ composed of Kirsty Barker, Kerri-Ann Upham, Rebecca Kelly, Ellie Dodd, Susie Howells, Jane Stack, Lisa Cocks, Nadine Levin and cox Dani Wall. Conscious of the qualifying conditions the girls rowed their own race and avoided getting distracted by the crews alongside them. It was a great performance from the Exeter crew and they finished in a comfortable 3rd position posting the 6th fastest time.
Qualifying for the final was a great achievement and the Exeter crews would now be racing alongside the likes of Thames, Grosvenor and Vesta. Both crews committed everything in the final, with coaches Stu Redden and Pete Cork cycling alongside their respective crews the Exeter rowers had one final opportunity to dig deep and show off the strength, fitness and technical ability they had developed over the long winter months. The men’s 4+ finished in an admirable 6th position out of a total of 18 crews and the women’s 8+ improved their time from the heat to finish in 5th position overall out of 12 crews. With crew de-briefs finished and boats tied down to the trailer the Lakeside ice-cream van had an influx of Exeter rowers as they rewarded themselves after a hard morning of rowing!
Boats used in the morning races were being de-rigged and packed away while Eleanor Burke and Lucinda Saunders began preparations for their afternoon heat. Eleanor and Lucinda were racing in the Women’s Challenge 2X. Having supported the men’s and women’s crews earlier in the day the ladies knew there were some strong clubs competing at this regatta. The double was up against some tough competition and despite their best efforts they weren’t quite quick enough to qualify for the final, the ladies finished in a respectable 9th position out of 12 crews.
Overall this was a fantastic start to the regatta season for Exeter Rowing Club. The crews were racing at a higher standard than they would have in a normal regatta as IM3 and IM2 categories were merged to form the Elite Club event.
For Exeter Rowing Club to be represented in both the men’s and women’s finals is an outstanding achievement for the club and it brings great confidence for both crews in their preparation for Henley.