On Sunday 2nd of July, eleven students and two members of staff from Ely College, alongside their Isle of Ely Rowing coaches took part in a truly unique opportunity. At the request of the Henley Stewards, through our partnership with East Anglia Youth Rowing (EAYR) our students travelled down to participate in the Row-past Celebrations, taking to the River Thames as part of Final Day of Royal Henley.
The Henley Royal Regatta is a historic and prestigious annual rowing event; up there on the calendar with the Olympics and World Championship competitions for elite rowing teams. 732 crews from around the world raced this unique course as part of the week-long event, with only 26 winning silverware and bragging rights for another year. Rowing the Henley course presents a tough challenge in competitive racing with no segregation of the boats (lanes); whilst our crews weren’t competing, the weather conditions and 1500m course offered up both a technical and physical challenge for our young rowers. Our coxes also showcased their growing competencies in navigating the stretch of water. They should be very proud of their efforts, as the college staff and their coaches are.
The opportunity to spectate, rig boats next to Ivy League and Oxbridge World Champions and ultimately row at such a showcase rowing event was truly inspiring for our students. Jason Coe, Assistant Principal at Ely College and head of the rowing programme said “This opportunity recognised and rewarded the ongoing commitment many of our students have made to the rowing programme over the past two to three years with the help and ongoing support of The Boat Race Fund and Love Rowing. A special mention must be made yet again to the Isle of Ely Rowing Club who continue to train and equip our students for such opportunities, as well as Susannah Cass, Head Coach at EAYR who organised and co-ordinated the event including the long transportation of boats down to Henley! The students had an amazing day and represented our community with pride.”
Maisie Shepherd, 15 commented on behalf of her fellow students, thanking her teachers and coaches for opening new doors to the sport for her and her peers: “Rowing at Henley makes all the early mornings and hard work worth it. We are so lucky to have the Cambridge University Boathouse near us in Ely, and we’ve developed a great passion for a sport that we probably wouldn’t have tried without the free taster sessions. I’ve seen the Cambridge crews training on the same stretch of water as me and I’ve sculled alongside them but always at a distance. So when I met my rowing idol, Imogen Grant at Henley, the current World and European champion, who rowed for Team GB as well as the Cambridge Blue boat, it inspired me to follow in her wake. Like her I hope to build momentum and take my rowing career to the next level. Henley was a brilliant experience for all of us!”