9.30am - 12.20pm
The first race of the day in cool overcast conditions set the tone for the morning as University of London reeled in Oxford Brookes University’s customary charge off the line in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup (student men’s coxed fours). Brookes were 2/3 of a length up at Barrier but UL began their charge and by Fawley (1,047m, 9m short of half way) only a canvas separated them. Brookes tried to responded but UL were always rating two strokes higher and making them count. They passed Brookes by the Enclosures and in the last few hundred metres pulled out win by a length.
With the likes of the holders Harvard not travelling this year, for obvious reasons, Brookes’ started the event as favourites, having only been beaten by their own team mates this season. But it was not a complete shock as University of London have stacked their best into this event this year.
Brookes’s aura of invincibility has been shaken in the Temple by Nereus on Friday and this result. They took the lead in both, going out hard, but were not able to break away, snap the elastic band and control the race either.
Junior Women’s Eights
Race 4 was a fraught one between Surbiton High School and Lady Eleanor Holles School, the national champions, producing if not a complete upset, given their respective times this week, then at least surprise. Surbiton’s celebration after crossing the line 1 ¼ lengths clear made that obvious.
Four of the Surbiton crew are former national champions in the u16 eights and having established a lead of a canvas at the 1/4mile they pulled it out to 2/3 of length around the halfway at Fawley. They were able to respond to every attack by LEH, who were edging backwards by the end.
Forty minutes later, Headington School joined Surbiton in the final, controlling race 8 from start to finish. It was telling that there were no celebrations from Headington after the line.
Stonor Challenge Trophy (women’s double sculls)
The Stonor field has come down to four young international crews, who look like they will play a big part in the future of international sculling. Nika Vos and Martine Veldhuis (NED), the Dutch lightweights, who both just missed out on Tokyo selection, went out like rocket and were over a length down at the ¼ mile. Even though it was expected, Jess Leyden and Georgina Brayshaw (Leander Club) must have had their concerns as they slipped two lengths behind..
On Friday the Leander double had started rowing through the other boat before the halfway mark. It took longer this time, but with their constant powerful rhythm they drew level and passed the Dutch in metronomic fashion. It was not over though, the Dutch responded and briefly took back the lead with 200m left. But the Great Britain heavyweights power told and they were a length clear at the finish.
“I just kept saying, trust the boat, trust the plan,” Leyden, said. “Jess is so experienced I knew I had to trust her, she’s been the best team mate,” Brayshaw said.
Leyden was in the British women’s quadruple sculls qualified for Tokyo, but sadly contracted COVID-19 was seriously ill and could not make the team. But she has clearly not just come to test her form.
Diamond Challenge Sculls
Graeme Thomas (Agecroft), 4th in the double sculls in Tokyo, controlled race 6 to set up a final with Tom Wilkinson (Greenbank Falmouth Rowing Club), an open water rower, who was hoping to challenge. Thomas was 2 ¼ lengths up at the ¼ mile. He will face Seb Devereux (Leander) in the final, who was even more dominant against Dara Alizadeh, who was perhaps spent from his heroic struggle on Friday.
Saturday was the day for doubling up and the challenge for those was trying to manage their races and hoping they did not have to spend everything on the water and not let team mates down.
It was job done in the morning for Leander Club ‘A’ in the Town Challenge Cup (elite women’s coxless fours) for Alice Davies, Heidi Long, Lauren Irwin and Hope Cessford. They quickly pulled out a big lead on a combined Nottingham and Leander four in race 7 at 10.30 and controlled the race.
Fifty minutes later, Samantha Redgrave and Susannah Dear took a little longer to assert dominance in the Hambledon Pairs Challenge Cup (elite women’s pairs) but were four lengths up around the halfway at Fawley.
Those Leander six will join two crewmates in the Remenham Challenge Cup (elite women’s eight) at 7.10 this evening in race 44.
It remains to be seen if the four from the Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ eight that beat Leander in the Ladies Challenge Plate (intermediate men’s eight) in race 13 at 11.30am, will have enough for their intermediate men’s coxless four against D.S.R. Laga and A.G.S.R. Gyas in the Visitors’ Challenge Plate (race 38 at 6.10pm).
All power to the elbows of Michael Glover, Oscar Lindsay, Leonard Jenkins and Matthew Aldridge and they may need it after never being able to break the elastic band on Leander, who pressured them and forced responses all the way to line.
It underlined Brookes’ incredible resources. This was Leander’s fastest boat, Brookes’s top eight – a completely different set of athletes - goes tomorrow in the final of the Grand
In common with other favourites, who are expecting to make the final, there were no celebrations from the Brookes crews.