The past season has seen the three clubs training on the River Lune in Lancaster each achieve their own successes. The John O’Gaunt Rowing Club, the Lancaster University Boat Club and the Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boat Club
For the John O’Gaunt Rowing Club, the 2009/10 season was indeed a success. Over the course of 12 months, the club has grown and been successful in numerous ways, adding to a rapidly growing community.
The club saw at the beginning a great deal of interest as the recruitment drives at the University of Cumbria and the Learn to Row Schemes saw a considerable amount of fresh faces trying their hand at a new sport, often clogging up the river in the (supposedly uncapsizable) training singles. The introduction of eight former members of the Lancaster University Boat Club and the introduction of several industry placement students meant the student squad of the club was rapidly increasing to allow for multiple crew boats to train together during student sessions. The junior squad saw an increase with around 20 children from Lancaster and the surrounding area learning to row as well as partaking in the various land based training exercises run by the club.
The success in bolstering the numbers has also reflected in the successes on the water with the club taking 15 wins throughout the year, starting with 3 Elite singles wins at Warrington, Trafford and Northwich Spring Heads. In the latter event, the club also took the titles for WIM2.4x, VetE.2x and WJ14.2x.
The Easter Holidays saw the club engineer a 4 day long training camp at the club which brought together everyone from the senior, junior, student and vet squads to try out new crews, get some quality water time in the sun and help out with jobs around the boathouse. (At this point, the students usually had somewhere else to be...) The event was a success with everyone gaining some valuable insight from the coaches and new ideas for crews were thrown together with some interesting results.
Regatta season started well for John O’Gaunt with the club taking 4 wins at their first event. Merseyside Regatta saw the club win in the WIM2.2x, Nov.4x, Nov.2x and Nov.1x with the student squad being represented in each crew. The next event on the calendar was the annual Francis Russell Memorial Race held between the club and the Lancaster University Boat Club. As neither club had a crew that matched the others in size and discipline, it was decided that the event would take place in the form of a handicapped regatta. Eleven crews entered the event and John O’Gaunt left victorious with four crews in the top five.
The club travelled back to Northwich for the local regatta, this once again saw the club returning with some metalwork in the form of victories in IM2.4x and WNov.2x, the latter seeing a Gaunt/Gaunt final.
Three of the clubs senior and student members travelled down south for the Metropolitan Regatta at Dorney Lake. They, however, returned with no stories to tell and it has since been decided that no one is to bring up the event again for fear of emotional breakdowns. This then left the club to face one of its most eagerly anticipated dates of the rowing calendar, Durham Regatta. The club sent eight crews to the event to race in different categories ranging from elite to novice. Four found their way to their respective finals, but only the WIM3.4x was able to win though with the real shame being the heavy rain ruining all their hair for the awards presentation.
The next regatta at Talkin Tarn once again only saw multiple final places but only one Gaunt win, which came in the form of WJ13B.1x but with everyone braving the rough water to enjoy the otherwise nice weather, the day was not lost totally.
A few weeks later, the Club decided to move back to land training for a challenge erg against the local Heysham Atoms RLFC. Three teams (One Junior, one Senior/Student, one Rugby) would race the full 71km of the River Lune raising money and awareness for not only both clubs, but also for Cancer Research UK. The event was deemed a success with the Senior/Student team coming in first, a full 27 minutes ahead of the Rugby guys and just short of an hour ahead of the Junior Team swarm.
The final event of the season was the Hollingworth Lake ‘North of England Sprint Champs’. Unfortunately, by this point in the summer, most of the students had gone home and many of the juniors had either just returned from holidays or were away for the event itself. Thus without the full squad to send, for the second time of the season, the club returned empty handed. Those who attended, however, still greatly enjoyed the competition and the chance to row somewhere different.
The season continued for some students who went back to clubs local to their respective homes. Results include wins and close calls at Bewdley, Peterborough, Gloucester and Ross Regattas and a respectable 5th place of 260 crews at the Boston Rowing Marathon.
The club’s progress has continued off the River Lune with the recent creation of the Lancaster Schools’ Rowing Association, which hopes to promote rowing in the wider educational area and bolster the expanding junior squad. Four student members, at university down south, have had great success this year, including a win at Henley Royal Regatta, medals at the U23 World Championships, the World and European University Championships. They also managed to achieve three top 25 places at HORR and a top 20 place at WeHORR. John O’Gaunt RC wishes them great success for next season at their respective institutes.
The Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boat Club have had a pleasing enough season with a large J16 squad and a small but dedicated J15 squad. With parents and teachers in tow, the boys raced in events all over the North of England. The club competed in both head races and regattas in Chester, Northwich, Manchester, and York and even venturing up to Scotland to enter Strathclyde Regatta. The club, however, only managed 3 wins throughout the season, J16.4x at both Northwich Autumn and Yorkshire Heads and Vet B/C.1x, also at Yorkshire Head. Hopefully after the club’s relocation by the end of head season in 2011, they can focus on recruiting more fresh talent.
The Lancaster University Boat Club have had their fair share of success this year too. After a record setting recruitment drive, the club’s first results came at Dee Autumn Head with the club winning Nov.4+, placing second in IM2.4- and third in IM3.8+. Following on with a string of near wins at BUCS Small Boats Head in Peterborough and at the North of England Head in Chester, the club set club records the rest of the way, with the Men’s 1st VIII not only setting a new course record on the 4km Red Rose Head (with the second fastest time ever at the event of 14’50”) but also beat the club’s best ever place at the Head of the River Race on the Tideway, placing 160th. The Women’s VIII responded in kind by setting a record of their own at Women’s Head of the River Race with an incredible placing of 86th.
An Easter training camp at Henley RC saw LUBC hit the ground running as regatta season came around. With the unfortunate affair of York University withdrawing their rowing team from the Roses Tournament, the club racked up some excellent initial results from BUCS Regatta, these include the Women’s VIII stayed on form to place 5th in the final of the intermediate category with the Men’s 1st VIII managing to progress to the semi final.
The remainder of the season saw the Women’s 8 being crowned the fastest WIM3 8+ both days at Durham Regatta and also a scratch 4 only just placing second in WIM2.4+ at Met Regatta. The season climaxed with a fast qualification time and a victory over Durham University BC to progress to the quarter final of Henley Women’s Regatta, equalling the club’s best ever result at the event. The crew were subsequently knocked out by a canvas by Osiris BC (Oxford University) in an exceptionally close race.
The Men’s 1st VIII, although rowing impressively all year, went without silverware over the regatta season. The crew made the final of IM3 8+ on both days at Met Regatta, on the Saturday of Durham Regatta and the Sunday of Marlow Regatta, all in very close races that saw them mere seconds from success. The season came to a close at the Henley Royal Regatta Qualifiers where in an attempt to qualify for the Temple Challenge, the crew came 3 second short to finish the 5th fastest non qualifier. Later in the summer, the LUBC Men’s squad saw success in composite crews with City of Bristol RC at Peterborough Regatta in IM3.8+, at Gloucester Regatta in IM2.4+ and with Doncaster RC at St Neot’s Regatta in IM2 8+.
Overall, it has been a fruitful season for the Lune based clubs, hopefully with a spillover effect into next season ready for the upcoming Olympic season when interest in the sport is often at its highest. With head and indoors season looming, the monthly inter-club heads will give everyone an opportunity to try out new crews and get into gear ready to row the Red Rose to victory.
Lancaster John O'Gaunt has been an exciting and developing club to be involved with throughout the 2010/11 season with many new projects and improvements flying about around the Lune based boathouse.
One of the biggest successes this season is the introduction of the Lancaster Schools Rowing Association, a new subset club for the juniors of Lancaster to encourage more local schools to be actively involved in the sport, with the local Ripley St Thomas School already starting to introduce rowing as an option to their physical education curriculum. This has resulted in the junior squad having almost doubled in recent months with many progressing towards competing next term. The youngest being the very talented 10 year old Dylan Bell, following his father Phil and siblings Kieran and Rhianne into the club. Having been successful both as a cox for most squads in the club as well as competing himself in a single scull!
For the past few years, the formerly very popular and highly subscribed Lancaster City Regatta has been cancelled and this year saw the introduction of a new racing format in the form of the Red Rose Sprint Regatta which will be used as a template for starting up the regatta soon. It also served as a great opportunity to hold the annual Francis Russell Memorial race between Gaunt and the University. John O'Gaunt repeated last years performance and retained the trophy with their 3 fastest crews placing in the top 6 as well at taking the top spot.
This year has also seen a wider variety of competitions and events being entered outside of the norm by the club who stereotypically stick to visiting the local events and sticking to sculling small boats. Such feats include entering a Men's VIII into competition for the first time in 10 years . Having had only one outing together the week before and with a crew of ages ranging between 16 and 50, Gaunt placed 9th of 13 crews in IM3 Eights, coming only 13 seconds behind the University's top boat who had been training together for 5 months. The club also sent groups down south to compete with bands of club members representing the club at Marlow, Gloucester and Ross Regattas, for what may have been its first time there.
This then leads onto the increased amount of collaboration between John O'Gaunt and the Lancaster University Boat Club, who not only graciously offered a boat and a cox for North of England Head but also have been involved in composite crews such as the victorious WIM3 Coxed Four at Northwich Spring Head, club athletes racing for the university, such as Aaron Sims stroking the LUBC IM3. Eight at Marlow; and vice versa with Seb Miller and Matt Whitehead racing in Novice Doubles at Gloucester and Ross Regattas. Hopefully this cooperation will continue into following seasons as the clubs experiment with new methods to further their success.
This season has seen John O'Gaunt at its most competitively successful for quite a few years, netting a total of 33 wins (including the 7 LSRA and 10 composite wins) from 13 events throughout head and regatta seasons ranging from novice to elite and from J13 to MasC/D. This comes from a squad not just the usual seniors but with many having their first competitive season and several others having just returned to the sport from several years out.
There have been some great success stories throughout this season in competition from all the squads in the club. This year saw the new recruits from the 2010 Summer Learn to Row Course getting their first taste of racing experience and while some were lessons in how not to tip a single during a head race, others proved more fruitful with the likes of Steve Holmes and Matt Birchall losing their sculling novice status', Matt even managing to earn a sweep point mere weeks after being introduced to the discipline.
Arguably, however, the club's most successful crew of the year was the lightweight double of Matt Wilkinson and Aaron Sims, starting the season as novice scullers and finished an IM1 crew, having won 7 of their 9 races together this season as well as 4 wins out of 6 as part of a coxless quad. Their only two losses being in IM1 where the boys took 3rd place at Marlow Regatta and 2nd at Ross Regatta. Other highlights include winning IM2 Doubles both days of Gloucester and Ross and claiming the overall victory for the Red Rose Sprint, becoming the fastest crew on the Lune.
The club's success is hoped to progress further next year with the club making plans to restart senior crew training to dominate at the local events and with the final target of entering at least one crew for the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. Meanwhile, with the continual growth of the LSRA, plans to expand that part of the club and create a much more competitive squad will continue, ensuring a future generation of the club with experience, confidence and talent.