GB Rowing Team Makes Successful Return to Racing

Strong performances across the team seal a solid day of racing in Varese, Italy

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Story of the Day:

Great Britain made a successful return to International competition today at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, with 16 boats directly qualifying for the semi final or final in their respective categories.

Making her return to the GB Rowing Team in great style was Helen Glover in the women’s pair with Polly Swann. The pair lead their heat throughout, booking themselves a place in the A final on Sunday.

Commenting on her first competition since winning Gold in Rio 2016, Glover said: “It’s nice to be back and get the first race of the season, and the first race in five years, done and set a marker for ourselves. It felt very comfortable on the start line. I was expecting to feel a bit more nervy but, thanks to the foundation we’ve built through our training, I knew enough about myself before we started the race and it felt like a nice place to be. We definitely have things we want to work on for the next race, so we can put that into place now we’ve done our first race.

“It’s been quite the year since having the twins in 2020 and now they’ll be watching with Logan and my family on Sunday in the final of the European Championships. It’s a year that has been surreal for everyone for many reasons and I just really hope that I’m making the children proud.”

Swann added: It’s good to get a solid win and to have controlled the race throughout. The first early rounds can be difficult because you want to manage yourself and the crews around you, but in the final you have the freedom to really go out and race and that’s what we are here for, we want to deliver. It feels weirdly familiar to be back racing despite the fact that there’s been what feels like a whole lifetime in between races – Helen’s been off having babies, and I’ve been working on the wards but it felt really familiar and great to be able to race again.”

A highlight from the morning was the strong start with all three Para crews winning their heats at their European Championships debut. Spearheaded by a dominant performance from Benjamin Pritchard, in the PR1 men’s single, Benjamin, who has returned to the squad following injury, commented: “I’ve had a rough start to the season and it’s great that even with intermittent training I’ve got some speed under my belt. It was always a race to the finals today and I’m watching the next heat with a keen eye to see who else will qualify. Looking ahead to the final, I’m already feeling super nervous – it’s the first big race of the season and I’m really looking forward to getting to the start line, going hammer and tong and seeing what I can do. Overall, it’s really nice to be back in the boat park, seeing different nations racing and practicing my Italian!”

Elsewhere, the women’s sculls put in some solid performances with both the women’s double and women’s quad qualifying for the final on Sunday.

Holly Nixon and Saskia Budgett put in a brilliant performance in the women’s double comfortably taking second spot and easing them through the A final. Budgett, who was making her senior international debut, said: “It feels so good to be back racing. I was buzzing on the start line because it’s my first senior regatta, and Holly hasn’t raced in over three years, so we were ready for it, no matter what! We really went for it on the first kilometre. We didn’t know what to expect as we’re such a new crew, we were neck and neck with the Dutch and then coming into the second km we knew we had this and in the last 500 metres we could bring it down. We just felt really confident and I am really looking forward to the final.”

Also making their senior international debuts were Hannah Scott and Lucy Glover, part of the women’s quad alongside sisters Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne. Fastest out of the blocks, the quad powered away from the field, which included the defending European champions, and sealed first place, guaranteeing their spot in the A final.

Commenting after the race, Scott said: it was a good way to set the tone, I”m happy with our first performance. It’s our first race together as a new crew and we were excited to see what speed we could bring to the table and it was a very satisfying row.”

Reflecting on the day’s racing, Director of Performance, Brendan Purcell said: “Before today, the team hadn’t raced in around 20 months so we really didn’t know what to expect coming into this championship. I’m so proud of how the team has approached today. They’ve been buzzing to get back out competing and our results today have reflected the hard work they’ve all put in to get to this point. I’m looking forward to seeing how they continue to perform over the coming days in the semi finals and finals.”


Results recap:

Benjamin Pritchard got racing off to a flying start, taking a comfortable first place in his heat of the PR1 men’s single sculls.

In his words: “It’s always really nerve racking being the first one out, as you either set the team up for a great day or you start off on a bad note. I’ve had quite an intermittent season so far, with some injuries, operations and COVID, so it’s actually really nice just to get out there and blow the cobwebs off.

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley followed suit in the PR2 mixed double sculls, pulling away from the field early on in their race for lanes and extending their lead down the rest of the course.

Rounding off a successful morning for the Para squad, the PR3 mixed coxed four of Ollie Stanhope, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox, Ellen Buttrick and Erin Kennedy picked up this season where they left off with a commanding win in their race for lanes.

Erin Kennedy said after the race: “It was good – we’re very happy to get the first race done. It was our first run out in a very long time, and really we want to take the Europeans as a real learning experience, so the final is an opportunity to improve and see what we can do.”

In the women’s pair, Helen Glover came back with a bang, taking first place alongside Polly Swann in their heat of the women’s pair. Top spot was enough to book their place in Sunday’s A final.

Morgan Bolding and Harry Glenister kicked off the campaign for the men’s squad, racing in their heat of the men’s pair. The duo put in a strong performance straight out of the blocks, ultimately securing second place and comfortable qualification for the A/B semi-finals.

In the women’s double, Saskia Budgett and Holly Nixon put in a brilliant performance to take second place in their heat and claim an automatic spot in Sunday’s A final. Talking after the race, Saskia said: “We had such a solid race and had more to give, so we’re so excited for that final and have so much trust in each other.”

The men’s double of Graeme Thomas and John Collins threw down a marker in their heat too, taking an early lead and holding off strong competition to take first place. That result secures them a place in the A/B semi-finals tomorrow.

Racing internationally for the first time since her bronze medal in the 2019 World Rowing Championships, Maddie Arlett took fourth place in a blistering heat of the lightweight women’s single sculls. The Edinburgh University Boat Club athlete will go again tomorrow in the repechage, heading down the course at 09.23 (BST).

The women’s coxless four of Rowan McKellar, Hattie Taylor, Karen Bennett and Rebecca Shorten put in a strong performance in a packed heat, pushing the defending European champions from the Netherlands right to the line. Beating out competition from Denmark, Romania, Spain and Poland, the four took second place and will race again tomorrow in the repechage.

The men’s coxless four saw GB field the same crew which took gold in the 2019 European Rowing Championships – Rory Gibbs, Oliver Cook, Matt Rossiter and Sholto Carnegie. Racing against the eventual 2019 World Champion crew from Poland, the men’s four led their heat with a dominant row and took first place, securing a place in the A/B semi-finals tomorrow.

Racing in the women’s single scull, Vicky Thornley sat strong into the building headwind and lay down a serious mark of intent, rowing away from the rest of the field and taking first place in her heat.

Looking ahead to the coming weekend, Vicky said: “It was a good first race. It was quite a good draw for me, so it’s a start but there’s going to be some harder racing to come.”

On his senior debut for the GB Rowing Team, Matthew Haywood pushed 2018 World Champion Kjetil Borch all the way to the line and finished in a well-deserved second place in his heat.

Taking a great deal of confidence from his morning row into the afternoon repechage, Haywood then went on to book his place in the A/B semi-finals with a strong, mature row. Sitting third at 1000m, the Nottingham RC sculler reeled in Nikolay Pimenov from Russia and finished the day on a high for the GB Rowing Team.

Imogen Grant and Emily Craig kicked off their 2021 international campaign with a relaxed, confident race in their heat of the lightweight women’s double sculls. Taking on strong competition from Latvia, Poland and Denmark, the double edged into the lead early on and strode out to a comfortable win, seeing them safely through to the A/B semi-finals.

Speaking after the race, Grant said: “It’s so good to be back racing again! We kept calm in the first half, and then in the second half we were able to hit a rhythm we were really pleased with and just move away from the  rest of the field. On to tomorrow!”

Jamie Copus and Sam Mottram combined again in the lightweight men’s double sculls, looking forward to some international competition to warm up ahead of the upcoming Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Lucerne in May. A strong first 1000m saw the double sitting well within the pack, and a powerful second half of the race took them into a comfortable third place finish – booking their place straight in A/B semi-finals tomorrow.

Racing internationally for the first time, the women’s quad of Mathilda Hodgkins Byrne, Hannah Scott, Charlotte Hodgkins Byrne and Lucy Glover lined up in their heat needing first place to progress directly to the A final on Sunday. Facing strong and experienced competition from crews including the defending European Champions from the Netherlands, the quad pulled out one of the performances of the day to take first place early on and stretch out their lead down the course.

Speaking after making her senior international debut, Hannah Scott said: “It was a good way to set the tone. That was our first race together as a crew and I was just excited to see what could bring to the table. It was a satisfying row.”

The men’s quad also kicked off 2021 with a new look line-up, with Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont lining up in the heat against Italy, Poland, Ukraine and Sweden.

Needing a top three finish to secure a place in the A/B semi-finals, the quad sat strong throughout the race and moved on the competition in the final 250m to take a comfortable second place finish.

Rounding off the morning competition were the GB Rowing Team’s two eights, with the women racing at 12.50 (BST) and the men at 12.55 (BST)

The women’s eight faced up against competition from Russia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Romania, and took fourth place in a fast and furious race for lanes. They’ll race again in the medal final on Sunday.

The men’s eight then brought the morning session to a close, pulling out to a solid lead by the halfway mark and holding off the rest of the pack to finish in first place. Racing for lanes against Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Romania, the commanding performance lays down a strong marker ahead of the medal final on Sunday.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Henry Fieldman said: “We’d all agree that there’s more to come and we didn’t give it our full attack. We’ve got more and I think the opposition have more too, so now it’s all about how well we can recover and get ready for the next show.”

Crews and times

Event Crew Position Times
PR1 Men’s Single (PR1 M1x) Benjamin Pritchard (City of Swansea RC / Swansea) 1st 9:37.69
PR2 Mixed Double (PR2 Mix2x) Lauren Rowles (Worcester RC / Bromsgrove), Laurence Whiteley (Tees RC / Northallerton) 1st 8:07.97
PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix 4+) Ellen Buttrick (Leeds RC / Leeds), Giedre Rakauskaite (Worcester RC / Worcester), James Fox (Univ. of London BC / Peterborough), Ollie Stanhope (Molesey BC / London), Erin Kennedy (Leander Club / Wantage) 1st 6:52.21
Women’s Pair (W2-) Helen Glover (Marlow RC / Penzance), Polly Swann (Univ. of Edinburgh & Leander Club / Edinburgh) 1st 7:08.91
Men’s Pair (M2-) Harry Glenister (Leander Club / Princes Risborough), Morgan Bolding (Oxford Brookes University /Withiel) 2nd 6:40.51
Women’s Double (W2x) Holly Nixon (Leander Club / Enniskillen), Saskia Budgett (Tideway Scullers’ School / Acton) 2nd 7:05.4
Men’s Double (M2x) John Collins (Leander Club / Twickenham), Graeme Thomas (Agecroft RC / Preston) 1st 6:18.02
Lightweight Women’s Single (LW1x) Madeleine Arlett (Edinburgh Univ. BC / Selkirk) 4th 7:54.90
Women’s Four (W4-) Rowan McKellar (Leander Club / Glasgow), Harriet Taylor (Sir William Perkins’s School BC / Sunningdale), Karen Bennett (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Rebecca Shorten (Imperial College BC / Belfast) 2nd 6:41.43
Men’s Four (M4-) Oliver Cook (Univ. of London BC / Windsor), Matthew Rossiter (Leander Club / Newbury), Rory Gibbs (Oxford Brookes University / Marlow), Sholto Carnegie (Leander Club / Oxford) 1st 6:13.92
Women’s Single (W1x) Vicky Thornley (Leander Club / Wrexham) 1st 8:16.55
Men’s Single (M1x) Matthew Haywood (Nottingham RC / Nottingham) 2nd, 2nd Heat  – 7:48.84, Repechage – 7:13.33
Lightweight Women’s Double (LW2x) Emily Craig (University of London BC / Mark Cross), Imogen Grant (Cambridge Univ. Women’s BC / Cambridge) 1st 7:47.48
Lightweight Men’s Double (LM2x) Jamie Copus (Oxford Brookes Univ BC / Oxford), Samuel Mottram (Leander Club / Stoke Mandeville) 3rd 6:59.10
Women’s Quad (W4x) Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne (Reading Univ. BC / Hereford), Hannah Scott (Leander Club / Coleraine), Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne (University of London BC / Hereford), Lucy Glover (Edinburgh Univ BC / Warrington) 1st 6:49.55
Men’s Quad (M4x) Harry Leask (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Angus Groom (Leander Club / Glasgow), Thomas Barras (Leander Club / Staines), Jack Beaumont (Leander Club / Maidenhead) 2nd 6:07.15
Women’s Eight (W8+) Sara Parfett (University of London BC / Rochester), Rebecca Edwards (Leander Club / Aughnacloy), Chloe Brew (Leander Club / Plymouth), Emily Ford (Leander Club / Holmes Chapel), Katherine Douglas (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Caragh McMurtry (Southampton Coalporters ARC / Southampton), Beccy Muzerie (Molesey BC / Fareham), Fiona Gammond (Leander Club / Bicester), Matilda Horn (cox) (Univ. of London BC/Windsor) 4th 6:34.55
Men’s Eight (M8+) Josh Bugajski (Oxford Brookes Univ. BC / Stockport), Jacob Dawson (Leander Club / Plymouth), Thomas George (Leander Club / Cheltenham), Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC / Surbiton), Charles Elwes (Leander Club / Andover), Oliver Wynne-Griffith (Leander Club / Guildford), James Rudkin (Newcastle Univ. BC / Litchborough), Thomas Ford (Leander Club / Holmes Chapel), Henry Fieldman (cox) (Leander Club / London) 1st 5:44.85
Event:
PR1 Men’s Single (PR1 M1x)
Crew:
Benjamin Pritchard (City of Swansea RC / Swansea)
Position:
1st
Times:
9:37.69
Event:
PR2 Mixed Double (PR2 Mix2x)
Crew:
Lauren Rowles (Worcester RC / Bromsgrove), Laurence Whiteley (Tees RC / Northallerton)
Position:
1st
Times:
8:07.97
Event:
PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix 4+)
Crew:
Ellen Buttrick (Leeds RC / Leeds), Giedre Rakauskaite (Worcester RC / Worcester), James Fox (Univ. of London BC / Peterborough), Ollie Stanhope (Molesey BC / London), Erin Kennedy (Leander Club / Wantage)
Position:
1st
Times:
6:52.21
Event:
Women’s Pair (W2-)
Crew:
Helen Glover (Marlow RC / Penzance), Polly Swann (Univ. of Edinburgh & Leander Club / Edinburgh)
Position:
1st
Times:
7:08.91
Event:
Men’s Pair (M2-)
Crew:
Harry Glenister (Leander Club / Princes Risborough), Morgan Bolding (Oxford Brookes University /Withiel)
Position:
2nd
Times:
6:40.51
Event:
Women’s Double (W2x)
Crew:
Holly Nixon (Leander Club / Enniskillen), Saskia Budgett (Tideway Scullers’ School / Acton)
Position:
2nd
Times:
7:05.4
Event:
Men’s Double (M2x)
Crew:
John Collins (Leander Club / Twickenham), Graeme Thomas (Agecroft RC / Preston)
Position:
1st
Times:
6:18.02
Event:
Lightweight Women’s Single (LW1x)
Crew:
Madeleine Arlett (Edinburgh Univ. BC / Selkirk)
Position:
4th
Times:
7:54.90
Event:
Women’s Four (W4-)
Crew:
Rowan McKellar (Leander Club / Glasgow), Harriet Taylor (Sir William Perkins’s School BC / Sunningdale), Karen Bennett (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Rebecca Shorten (Imperial College BC / Belfast)
Position:
2nd
Times:
6:41.43
Event:
Men’s Four (M4-)
Crew:
Oliver Cook (Univ. of London BC / Windsor), Matthew Rossiter (Leander Club / Newbury), Rory Gibbs (Oxford Brookes University / Marlow), Sholto Carnegie (Leander Club / Oxford)
Position:
1st
Times:
6:13.92
Event:
Women’s Single (W1x)
Crew:
Vicky Thornley (Leander Club / Wrexham)
Position:
1st
Times:
8:16.55
Event:
Men’s Single (M1x)
Crew:
Matthew Haywood (Nottingham RC / Nottingham)
Position:
2nd, 2nd
Times:
Heat  – 7:48.84, Repechage – 7:13.33
Event:
Lightweight Women’s Double (LW2x)
Crew:
Emily Craig (University of London BC / Mark Cross), Imogen Grant (Cambridge Univ. Women’s BC / Cambridge)
Position:
1st
Times:
7:47.48
Event:
Lightweight Men’s Double (LM2x)
Crew:
Jamie Copus (Oxford Brookes Univ BC / Oxford), Samuel Mottram (Leander Club / Stoke Mandeville)
Position:
3rd
Times:
6:59.10
Event:
Women’s Quad (W4x)
Crew:
Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne (Reading Univ. BC / Hereford), Hannah Scott (Leander Club / Coleraine), Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne (University of London BC / Hereford), Lucy Glover (Edinburgh Univ BC / Warrington)
Position:
1st
Times:
6:49.55
Event:
Men’s Quad (M4x)
Crew:
Harry Leask (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Angus Groom (Leander Club / Glasgow), Thomas Barras (Leander Club / Staines), Jack Beaumont (Leander Club / Maidenhead)
Position:
2nd
Times:
6:07.15
Event:
Women’s Eight (W8+)
Crew:
Sara Parfett (University of London BC / Rochester), Rebecca Edwards (Leander Club / Aughnacloy), Chloe Brew (Leander Club / Plymouth), Emily Ford (Leander Club / Holmes Chapel), Katherine Douglas (Leander Club / Edinburgh), Caragh McMurtry (Southampton Coalporters ARC / Southampton), Beccy Muzerie (Molesey BC / Fareham), Fiona Gammond (Leander Club / Bicester), Matilda Horn (cox) (Univ. of London BC/Windsor)
Position:
4th
Times:
6:34.55
Event:
Men’s Eight (M8+)
Crew:
Josh Bugajski (Oxford Brookes Univ. BC / Stockport), Jacob Dawson (Leander Club / Plymouth), Thomas George (Leander Club / Cheltenham), Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC / Surbiton), Charles Elwes (Leander Club / Andover), Oliver Wynne-Griffith (Leander Club / Guildford), James Rudkin (Newcastle Univ. BC / Litchborough), Thomas Ford (Leander Club / Holmes Chapel), Henry Fieldman (cox) (Leander Club / London)
Position:
1st
Times:
5:44.85

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