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King Edward VII School U16 Eight SASRU UK Tour a Success!
 
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King Edward VII School educator and rowing master, Mr Ed Goodier reports back on our King Edward VII School U16 oarsmen selected as part of the UK SASRU Tour:

Following on from a hugely successful domestic season, taking 4 Gold medals and one Silver at the South African Schools Rowing Championships - including a first ever Gold medal in the Eight at U16 level, the invitation to travel to the UK for the annual SASRU development tour was offered to the King Edward VII U16 squad.

The SASRU tour is now in sixth year and is an initiative by Rowing South Africa and the South Afri-can Schools Rowing Union to nurture the best talent at U16 level by allowing exposure to competi-tion and different experiences of rowing in countries where it is more deeply embedded in their sporting culture. In previous years the tour has also visited Holland and Belgium.

Thanks to the considerable efforts of the boys themselves in their dedication to training over the Easter break and into term 2 as well as from the parents in an impressive fundraising drive to help cover the costs of the tour, the boys were able to confirm their places and departed for the UK on the 28th of April, along with athletes from St Albans, St Johns, St Andrews (Girls), St Mary’s and Holy Rosary.

The first major event of the tour was a Wallingford regatta held at Dorney Rowing Lake - the venue for the rowing and canoeing events at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The squad were very kindly hosted at the lake by Eton College, lending us boats and allowing us full access to their state of the art rowing centre for the duration of the tour.

Close to freezing temperatures greeted the athletes on the morning of the regatta - warm and sunny outdoor events are one luxury we do have in South Africa! The first rounds of racing in the coxed four and quad proved to be a wakeup call for the boys as they found themselves towards the back of the field off the start and with a lot to make up over the rest of the 2000 metres. The afternoon’s racing, however, went much more according to plan. The crew progressed to the final and lined up alongside some of the top schools in British rowing, not least our hosts Eton College who are the reigning national champions in the Under 16 8s event. A fantastic effort from the crew in a very closely fought race took them to a third place, 4 seconds behind the Eton crew and 0.2 seconds behind the King’s College Wimbledon in 2nd place. A result to be very proud of - and showing that we are competing at a very high standard.

Over the week following the regatta, the SASRU squad were given a number of exciting opportuni-ties to see something of the culture and history of rowing in the UK. There were visits to Henley and Oxford, as well as talks with current members of the British rowing team selected to compete at the Rio Olympics and with the coaches of the Oxford University boat race crews - plenty of inspiration for our athletes to pursue further goals in the sport and to hear from the very best about what it takes to succeed!

Our second competition came at the end of the week with racing at Bedford Regatta - an event that has been running for over 150 years. This event also presented a very different challenge to the crew. Rather than competing on an 8 lane, dead-straight 2000 metre course as they are used to, the Bedford Regatta runs over 1200 metres through the centre of the town, underneath a stone arch bridge and around a bend. It is also one-on-one ‘knockout’ style racing with 3 or 4 rounds of racing usually required to progress to the final.

The King Edward’s boys did themselves very proud and progressed to the finals of both the under 16 8s competition and an ‘open’ event, requiring victories over an Oxford University college and two U18 school crews. The finals races themselves turned out to be some of the best racing seen at the regatta. In the Under 16 final they raced neck and neck with Hampton School, the official verdict on the finish line being recorded as ‘3 inches’. In the open event they raced an under 18 crew from Shiplake College and raced well to stay within one boat-length of their opposition.

Without a doubt the tour has given the boys invaluable experience of competition at the highest level and will equip them well for their racing as they make the step up to open-level competition next year - well done on a great effort boys!

Well done to our KES lads on making their School and Country proud on this tour. 

Thank you to all the support given from the School, MIC Mr Trevor Dedlow, the King Edward Rowing Club, our parents and King Edward Community who contributed in 'a big or small way' to make this tour a reality.

Go School.




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