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Try Rowing leads to history for Rob Roy junior quad at Henley Royal Regatta



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Rob Roy BC junior girls’ quad which made history racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the first round of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup. Picture: Jo Burch (57743940)
Rob Roy BC junior girls’ quad which made history racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the first round of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup. Picture: Jo Burch (57743940)

History was created by Rob Roy Boat Club’s junior girls’ quad at Henley Royal Regatta last week.

The four of Grace Church, Abigail Jackson, Eloise Cotrel and Prune Lestienne became the first junior crew from Rob Roy to race at the prestigious regatta, and making the feat all the more impressive was that they were all products of the Try Rowing schools outreach programme into
state schools.

Church and Jackson go to Parkside School, and Cotrel and Lestienne attend Chesterton School, with Lestienne jumping into the crew at the last minute as Parkside’s Lily Martin had to drop out through illness.

In the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup, first round, they were up against a quad from Bedford Modern School, and despite narrowly losing out, were praised by commentators for their determination and rhythm.

Jo Burch, the director of junior rowing at Rob Roy, was forced to watch the race at home on the live stream because of Covid.

She said: “We are all so proud of the girls racing heroically in dreadful conditions. I was in floods of tears at the end of the race.

“We saw the raw talent in these girls aged 13, when they took part in our Try Rowing outreach project a couple of years ago, and have watched them mature into outstanding oarswomen.

“They are role models for the rest of the squad not only in their sculling ability but in their determination and commitment to their training, to their schoolwork – they have all had A levels or GCSEs this year – and to the teamwork which is needed to make a squad like ours so successful. They have even put in the time to coach the next generation of pupils at this year’s Try Rowing project.”

Rob Roy BC junior girls’ quad which made history racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the first round of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup. Picture: Jo Burch (57743938)
Rob Roy BC junior girls’ quad which made history racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the first round of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup. Picture: Jo Burch (57743938)

A Try Rowing Boat Race Day is being held tomorrow (Thursday) at Milton Country Park, and is one of the sporting highlights for pupils at Chesterton and Parkside Schools.

Burch, who coordinates the annual outreach project, said: “Pupils work incredibly hard to be selected during our gym testing sessions; they’re a joy to coach during training at Milton, learning difficult sculling skills very quickly. They push themselves each week on the rowing machines during the ergometer relay challenge and then they all give everything they’ve got on Race Day.”

Carl Humphries, head of PE at Chesterton, said: “Selection for Try Rowing is massively prestigious among the pupils – to be able to introduce them to a new sport which, for some of them, becomes a life-long passion is a real privilege.”

Try Rowing is funded through a legacy from ‘Curly’ Galbraith, who started the junior rowing squad at Rob Roy BC. Burch added: “Curly’s legacy also allows us to award Try Rowing scholarships to deserving students, inviting them to row with the Rob Roy BC junior squad next year.

“Not only are we grateful to Curly’s family but we’d also like to thank the Cambridge Sport Lakes Trust, which manages Milton Country Park, for their support.”



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