Saturday 9th May saw the Embankment in Bedford transform into an arena where many of the best schools from around the country came together to race at Bedford Regatta. With over 12 hours of racing, a race every 2 minutes and around 90 Bedford Modern School rowers the day was set to be a busy one.
The J14 squad started the day off for BMS at 8:34am where they showed off their skills in the smaller quads winning comfortably and in style in their first ever regatta. This really set the trend for the day with most crews winning at least one race. The J14 boys however came up against a very strong St. Paul’s crew in the octuple which saw them go out in the first round. This race however was not without incident as the boys caught a crab snapping one of their oars!
The J14 girls’ squad unfortunately had no opposition in the octuple so a last minute change of plan and straight into the quads event. The girls have been working hard in the octuple so it was a big ask for them to just jump into the quads, however the girls raced well but were not strong enough to fend of Great Marlow School and local rivals, BGS. Both Yr9 squads will be back into the octuples in preparation for the National Schools Regatta (NSR).
The J15 squad was set to have a packed racing schedule with two boys eights and the girls four. The boys novice eight started things off well beating Bedford School with ease in the first round. This put them up against another, older crew from Bedford School who BMS pushed incredibly hard the entire way but were unfortunately beaten. This eight was not finished though as they also competed in J15 eights where they won their first race but eventually lost to Radley. The J15 B boat had a strong start up against St. Paul’s School breaking out into clear water, this was caught up and turned around approaching the finish line sending our boys out.
The J15 girls four had a promising day at the regatta winning their first race by some 4 lengths; qualifying them for the final. In the final the girls came up against the formidable Henley Rowing Club who went onto beat BMS. I thought that this was an encouraging day for this crew and they should draw confidence from this in the build up to NSR.
With such a high quality entry for both the senior boys and girls these squads were always going to be tested on home waters. With the likes of Radley, Hampton, LEH, Henley, Abingdon all competing, the regatta was always going to be a clear indicator of how well the BMS crews had come out of training camp.
The senior/J16 girls had a day of mixed success’ with one coxed four going out in the first round to Sir William Borlase School. With BMS starting to become a known name amongst the girls eights it was nice to see them racing on home waters, possibly the first BMS girls eight to compete at Bedford Regatta. A tough draw awaited them facing LEH in the first round, a school known for producing high quality eight year-on-year, but would be a fantastic opportunity for the coaching team to really see how quickly our eight was going. The BMS crew did not disappoint racing side-by-side the entire way, even having their bows in front for much of the race but the sprint finish isn’t quite perfected yet which meant LEH won. An extremely promising performance and shows the potential the girls have.
The senior boys fours were also in an event filled with extremely good crews meaning a tough day ahead. One crew, scratch on the day, rowed well but being drawn against Radley (the eventual winners) proved a little too much for them meaning an early exit. The fractionally more established other J18 four were gifted with a row over in their first round, which effectively doubled the number of training sessions this crew has had together! The next round saw KGS pip our boys, but gave the BMS crew valuable race experience together as they prepare for NSR.
After a successful Inter-Regional Regatta a couple of weeks ago the girls four were at it again. The girls beat many senior women along the way with several close races but were the best crew in the event. The close races were exactly what this crew needed, it highlighted some areas where the crew can improve over the next couple of weeks before heading to Nottingham. The girls showed real character to fight off a good crew from Aurial Kensington in the final to win by 1 length. A very strong day for this four.
The 1st VIII had the potential for a very busy race schedule racing in J18 and IM3 eights. First round draws against Radley and Hampton could of easily ended the day very early, but the boys showed real character after losing to Radley in J18 by 3/4 length to turn straight around and head back to the start to race Hampton. It was clear the lose to Radley was still playing on minds as the eight did not race well but managed to grind out the victory. After some regrouping and a comfortable victory against Kingston Grammar School in the next round saw the boys make the final against Abingdon School 2nd VIII. Abingdon being a ‘Championship Eights School’ means their 2nd VIII’s are not to be under estimated. BMS found similar form to that they showed at Wallingford a week earlier taking control of the race from the start. Once in front there was no way back for Abingdon as the BMS 1st VIII were in a different league stretching the lead stroke after stroke, winning by 3 lengths. A truly brilliant performance and the best row the boys have put together. Confidence and motivation for NSR is rightly high.
I was extremely proud of TeamBMS at the regatta. I felt the students conducted themselves brilliantly on and off water, helping out whenever asked. The J14/15 squads in particular on the state boats were brilliant. The performances really showcase the ethos that my team and I have been trying to put onto the Boat Club this year with crews getting faster towards the major events, the discipline of good technique and professionalism off the water.
It makes a huge difference to the squad having the support of the parents at the events as well and yesterday at Bedford Regatta was second to none. THANK YOU to everyone who came to support.
Very proud Director of Rowing at the end of a successful day at our biggest home event! WELL DONE ALL!