Tom Copeland writes…
“Every year the Ghent International Regatta hosts the International Belgian Championships, which is open to all clubs, and this year saw entries from top clubs including Leander, Molesey, Oxford Brookes, Paraguay, and the hosts Sport Gent.
“The trip to Ghent was an eventful one, with the trailer nearly missing the ferry after having spent 90 minutes sitting in the wrong queue, and the Belgian police having to provide guidance as the club vehicle tried to negotiate the pedestrianised areas of Ghent’s city centre!
“On day one of racing, the women’s four of Georgie Plunkett, Abbie Lawrence, Claire Nichols and Millie Perrin found themselves drawn against bow four and stern four of the Molesey women’s eight that finished 6th at this year’s Women’s Eights Head. The level of the competition in this event was incredibly high and despite a decent row in challenging conditions, our new crew combination didn’t have enough speed to progress.
“Hadi Boukhatmi also found an elite level of performance was required in the lightweight men’s sculling event which was eventually won by Scullers Head winner Jamie Copus. Again, despite a performance which would have stood up well against club rowers, Hadi found that the competition in his heat was simply on another level.
In the last race of the day, Myriam Goudet and Ellie Darlington lined up for their first 2km race together in the final of the women’s pairs. Having earlier won the gold medal in the women’s four, the top Molesey boat split into two pairs and lined up next to them to provide the main competition for the race.
“After a fluffed start, Myriam and Ellie got into a good rhythm, moving to a length’s lead by 750m. But Molesey’s Aimee Jonckers and Helen Roberts found their rhythm as Myriam and Ellie started to stutter – both crews drawing level with 500m remaining. It was at this point that the Cantabs pair decided to mount the bank that ran adjacent to their lane, handing the lead to Molesey. Fortunately, the rest of the field were far back enough that Myriam and Ellie were able to recover and paddle over the line to take the silver medal.
“While the first day’s races were tense and nervous for the Cantabs crews, the second day of racing was more relaxed and the crews seemed more at ease with themselves. Hadi was up first and sculled a cleaner race, getting a faster start and holding on to the field well through the middle km before they started to move away in the final 500m.
“The four’s straight final was a good race which included Molesey’s top two boats and Oxford Brookes’ top combination. Through the first 1250m of the course they were much stronger than on the Saturday and battled with the dutch club Euro Enschede and the bow four of Molesey’s WEHORR eight, while the other Molesey boat and Oxford Brookes powered ahead. It was only in the last 750m that they started to lose contact with these really quick crews and crossed the line just 8s behind the bow-four of the Molesey eight that beat us by over a minute at WEHORR just two months before.
“Starting in Lane 1 for the pairs final, Ellie and Myriam had a better start, but still found themselves down by three-quarters of a length to the Molesey crew featuring Sam Fowler and Gabby Rodriguez. After 500m they started to find their rhythm, picking the boat up better at the front end of the stroke and moving back on Molesey. As they went through the 1km mark their bows hit the front and they continued to move away from the field. In slightly slow conditions, they crossed the line in 8:00.7, seven seconds ahead of Rodriguez and Fowler, and fifteen seconds ahead of Jonckers and Roberts.”
Thanks to Tom for the write-up, and congratulations to him for braving an international trip just weeks after passing his trailer-towing test as well as coaching the women’s crews!
Video of the pair’s Sunday final can be seen here (beware the loud cheering that starts about 2.5 minutes in).