Pair of eights are the only local winners on regatta opening day
OLYMPIC gold medallist Alex Partridge helped coach the Oratory School to victory in the heats of the Princess Elizabeth Cup
OLYMPIC gold medallist Alex Partridge helped coach the Oratory School to victory in the heats of the Princess Elizabeth Cup on the first day of the royal regatta on Wednesday.
The eight were one of two local crews which won their heats during an otherwise disappointing opening day.
Oratory recorded the first local victory of the day by defeating King’s School, Canterbury, in the junior men eights event.
Their rivals led by a canvas in the early stages but by the barrier Oratory had fought back and then increased their lead to three lengths to win in a time of seven minutes and eight seconds.
Sixth-former Freddie Woodward, 18, said: “The first 1,000 metres were a bit tough but we called for a middle four push and then pulled away. The feeling going past stewards’ was brilliant — it was better than any other sporting event I’ve ever competed in.”
Partridge, who has been assisting Oratory coach Adam Moffatt, praised the crew, saying: “They did everything we told them.”
Clive Dytor, headmaster of the independent school in Woodcote, said: “I am delighted and very proud of the boys. The support from parents was great.”
In the Thames Cup for club/student eights, Upper Thames’ ‘A’ crew defeated Kingston RC’s ‘B’ crew. They led from the start and finished three-and-a-half lengths ahead of their rivals in a time of six minutes and 53 seconds.
Crew member Nathan Hillyer, 24, of Upton Close, Henley, said: “It was a very good race. We went in with a plan and we executed it well.
“It was nice to be cheered pretty much all the way down the course — it makes it just that little bit more special.”
Upper Thames has entered 50 athletes in this year’s regatta to mark the club’s 50th anniversary.
Club chairman Justin Sutherland said: “Very often the first emotion when it comes to days like this is basically relief.
“Nothing has gone wrong with the boat, nothing has gone wrong with our race plan and we did what we came here to do.”
Three Upper Thames crews were knocked out in their heats.
In the Thames Cup, the ‘B’ crew lost to Griffen BC by three lengths.
Crew member Will Reincke, 25, said: “We expected them to be tough opposition and they were.
“As long as you do your best you can’t be despondent.”
In the Wyfold Cup for men’s coxless fours, the Upper Thames ‘A’ crew finished three-and-a-half lengths behind Rob Roy BC.
Crew member James Leigh, 26, said: “Rob Roy are a really good crew and we knew when we had them in the draw that we’d be up against it. We did execute the race really well but they managed to do better.”
He added: “This is a massive occasion and it is good that we have so many boats entered. It’s a shame that a few of them have gone out on the first day.”
The ‘B’ crew also crashed out of this competition after losing to Vesta RC.
Upper Thames were two lengths down at one point but managed to claw that back before finishing a third of a length down. Crewman Toby Mottram, 21, said: “Vespa have been quick off the mark all season but we have only been together since just after the Marlow regatta.
“We knew we had a strong finish but Vespa are one of the strongest crews. I wish them all the best in the next couple of rounds.”
Shiplake College were defeated by the King’s School, Chester, by one length, in the Princess Elizabeth Cup.
The Shiplake crew took an early lead but were then reeled in before their rivals pulled ahead.
Crewman Michael Glover, 18, said: “We pretty much gave it our all and there was nothing more we could do. We have got quicker since the nationals but they are a good crew.”
Reading Blue Coat School were defeated by Radley College by four-and-three-quarter lengths in their heat of the same event, having been behind from the start.
Pupil Josh Lamming, 17, said: “It was always going to be tough but we gave it our all. We put all we could into it so I’m happy with that.”
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