Gregory and Sbihi are top guns in Boston

Alex Gregory and Mohamed Sbihi, emerged from the early morning mist to add the GB Rowing Team men’s pair October 5km time trial today to their roll of honour.

In foggy but flat-calm conditions the Leander-Molesey combination, who are both 2012 Olympic medallists and several times World Champions in different boats, were six seconds ahead of the opposition led by Pete Reed and Constantine Louloudis both of Leander.

All four men were part of the 2015 World Champion men’s eight as were George Nash and Will Satch who came home third.

Gregory said: “As Boston 5ks go that was a good one.  We got out hard at the start and attacked it and when we settled into our rhythm we held it better than previously.  As we crossed the line I felt that whatever the result we could had a good feel for the boat and our efficiency was good.

“I have been racing 5ks here since the juniors in 2003 and there have only been two or three that I would say that I got right. This was up there.  As you are racing, because it’s against the clock, you don’t know how well you are going.  You have to base it all on experience and the perception you have of your fitness levels”.

The top seven finishers were from the national squad with Leander’s William Warr and Matt Rossiter topping the non-squad list in eighth place.

Two hours later and in glorious, sunny conditions Reading’s Olympian and World medallist Sam Townsend won the open men’s single scull title ahead of Leicester’s Jonny Walton and Twickenham’s John Collins.

Collins and Walton, who have raced as the GB Rowing Team double for the last three seasons, finished ahead of 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell, from Coleraine.

It was a debut win on the Boston 5k course for Townsend who has, since London 2012, had surgery on his arms and whose previous best here was third.

“I’m pretty surprised”, he said afterwards.  “But I’ve been rowing quite nicely.  For the squad, it’s pretty early. It feels like we are just back after the Worlds and I didn’t feel that prepared for this.

“I guess it’s an early marker and physically I’m feeling very good and we had lovely conditions to race in today.  I just tried to keep calm today and just plug away”.

Yorkshire’s Olympic men’s four champion Andrew Triggs Hodge competed in the open men’s single as part of his comeback to fitness after a recurrence of a virus which kept him out all of last year. He pronounced his efforts as “alright”.  Earlier he had said that it was about taking “day by day and step by step and if all goes well I’ll be in Rio and able to contribute”.

Coleraine also provided the lightweight men’s single scull winner in the shape of Richard Chambers who led home his younger brother, Peter, followed by his 2015 lightweight double scull partner and Chester-le-Street’s Will Fletcher, in third.  All three recorded times close to those of their open weight counterparts.

Richard Chambers said:  “I didn’t expect to do that well.  My ergo yesterday was steady but I found it hard.  I guess 5k is what I’m good at, getting into the rhythm.  It’s tough but it’s all about working away at it.  It’s really good for the lightweights to see Pete and Will in the mix.  It shows the strength of the squad”.

Wrexham’s Vicky Thornley underlined her sculling pre-eminence in the British squad by winning the open women’s single in 20:01.85 followed by Aberdeen’s Katherine Grainger, her double scull partner in 2015, and  Londoner Melanine Wilson. Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne was top of the emerging rowers with a fourth place in 20:25.89.

Vicky Meyer Laker was fifth with Frances Hougthon in sixth and Tina Stiller in seventh.

Thornley said: “That is a good start.  It’s what I would have expected of myself to be honest.  Things have been going well in training.  It’s a long time since I’ve done a 5km trial as I was ill at the time last year and it is very much a fine line with pacing in this kind of race.

“Mind you, I had Katherine {Grainger} behind me so that was a good marker.  In a race like this it’s easy to get to the bend [in the course] quickly and then die after that”.

On her comeback race at this distance, Anna Watkins, gold medalist with Grainger in London, was 12th and Polly Swann who missed last season through injury was eighth. Debbie Flood, twice and Olympic silver medallist, who has not raced internationally since 2012, was 10th.

Watkins said: “It felt really good coming away for the weekend and competing and every time I scull I know that I’m getting faster every week but I am still a long way from the finished product”.

Imogen Walsh was clearly delighted with her lightweight women’s single scull win in a time of 20:14.1 from Katherine Copeland, of Tees RC, and Emily Craig of the University of London.

Walsh, who missed a lot of last winter through illness, said:  “This time last year I was going down in health terms and I had to come out of training altogether to recover.  The time out taught me a lot of things technically and mentally and it was exciting today to see where I can go when you put the fitness on top of that.

“It’s a really positive thing for the whole lightweight women’s squad that wer are all pushing each other”.


RESULTS (Top 10 crews only, for full results see Twitter @gbrowingteam)

Single scull

1.  Vicky Thornley (Leander) 20:01.85

2.  Katherine Grainger (Marlow) 20:17.16

3.  Melanie Wilson (Imperial Coll) 20:17.55

4.  Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne (Reading Uni) 20:25.89

5.  Vicki Meyer-Laker (Leander) 20:30.00

6.  Frances Houghton (UL Tyrian) 20:36.00

7.  Kristina Stiller (Tees RC) 20:36.72

8.  Polly Swann (Leander) 20:38.01

9.  Louisa Reeve (Leadner) 20:40.39

10. Debbie Flood (Leander) 20:44.83



1.   Alex Gregory/Mohamed Sbihi (Leander/Molesey) 17:08.92

2.   Peter Reed/Constantine Louloudis (Leander/OUBC) 17:15.04

3.   George Nash/Will Satch (Molesey/Leander) 17:19.82

4.   Alan Sinclair/Scott Durant (Leander/Oxford Brookes BC) 17:27.38

5.   Matt Gotrel/Paul Bennett (Leander/ULBC) 17:32.92

6.   Tom Ransley/Stewart Innes (Leander) 17:34.95

7.   Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell/Matt Tarrant (ULBC/Oxford Brookes Uni) 17:35.20

8.   William Warr/Matt Rossiter (Leander) 17:44.31

9.   Timothy Clarke/Thomas George Ford (Leander) 17:48.61

10. Barnaby Stentiford/George Rossiter (Leander) 17:49.48

Single scull

1.   Sam Townsend (Reading Univ) 18:41.01

2.   Jonny Walton (Leander) 18:55.48

3.   John Collins (Leander)  19:02.16

4.  Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers’ School) 19:07.06

5.  Peter Lambert (Leander)  19:16.15

6.  Tom Barras (Leander) 19:17.32

7.  Nick Middleton (Leander) 19:20.33

8.  Frazier Christie (Leander) 19:28.01

9.   Dave Bell (Molesey) 19:28.01

10. George Stewart (Molesey) 19.28.36


Single scull

1. Richard Chambers (Leander) 18:51.33

2.  Peter Chambers (Oxford Brookes Univ) 18:58.06

3.  William Fletcher (Leander) 19:00.73

4.  Zak Lee-Green (Agecroft) 19:08.19

5.  Jamie Copus (Oxford Brookes) 19:18.16

6.  Joel Cassells (Oxford Brookes) 19:20.35

7.  Jonno Clegg (Leander) 19:22.33

8.  Jonathan Jackson (Leander) 19:23.56

9.  Mark Aldred (London) 19: 23.64

10.  Sam Scrimgeour (Imperial College) 19:29.56


Single scull

1. Imogen Walsh (London RC) 20:14.19

2.  Kat Copeland (Tees RC) 20: 37.23

3.  Emily Craig (Uni of London) 20:45.03

4.  Robyn Hart-Winks (Edinburgh Uni) 20:48.59

5.  Eleanor Piggott (Wallingford RC) 20”51.26

6.  Gemma Hall (Wallingford RC) 21:01.78

7.  Francesca Rawlins (Leander) 21:12.88

8.   Ellie Lewis (Agecroft) 21:20.57

9.   Katherine Denham (Durham Uni) 21:21.58

10.  Imogen Mackie (Oxford Brookes Uni) 21:36.46