These last two weeks saw the St Andrew’s College U16 Eight, representing the South African School Rowing Union, competing at the Wallingford and Bedford Regattas in England.
At the Wallingford regatta the boy’s first race of the day was the Junior Schools 2nd Eights. After a sluggish start they put in a great effort in the middle 1000m to push into third and held this position to the end. This was a very credible effort up against the open boys from Eaton and Kings College.
Their second event of the day was the U16A Eight. The conditions were very challenging with a strong crosswind that favoured the crews in lanes five and six, however from lane three the St Andrew’s boys had a great second half of the race finishing second and qualifying for the finals. Unfortunately conditions deteriorated to a point that the organizers cancelled the majority of the remaining races which meant that the final could not go ahead.
The Bedford Regatta saw the South African Schools Rowing Team compete in a knockout style event where only two crews race at one time with the winner advancing to the next round and the loser getting knocked out. The course was slightly more challenging as coxswains had to negotiate a narrow bridge and slight curve in the lane.
The first race saw the boy’s competing in the U16 A eight up against Hampton School who are currently ranked 4th in the UK in this category. It was a hard fought battle with our boys prevailing with a margin of half a boat length.
The quarter final in the U16 Eight saw the St Andrew’s boys pitted against Abingdon College, having raced each other in the previous week. We knew they were fast starters but our boys got an early lead and continued to extend it over the course to move through to the semi-finals with a winning margin of two lengths.
With a short turnaround the boys lined up in the intermediate eights against the Bedford Schools 1st VIII. The boys fought hard but were out classed by the more experienced crew going down by half a length.
Both crews lined up for their semi-finals, determined to give themselves the opportunity to race for first or second place.
The boys from St Andrews College were up against Norwich College, after a tight first quarter moved away for a comfortable and in to the final against the 3rd ranked Winchester College.
The finals was one of the closest of the day with both crews not willing to give an inch. As they came into the last straight the Winchester crew looked to have a bit more in the tank and managed to move clear to a half-length victory. A second place in this event was a huge achievement up against some of the best crews in the UK.