A beautiful day saw 10 nervous Cranleighans arrive on the banks of the Thames outside of Reading to take part in the National Schools Regatta, on Sunday 19th November. With no returning paddlers, the crews were placed in the ‘Novice’ section, which consists of paddlers with less than six months experience, and faced stiff competition from 14 other schools.

The day began with 500m seeding heats. Cranleigh boats won all three heats and sent four boats through to the ‘A’ final. Will Dahl and Jack Collins were outright winners. Our other three boats fought hard against Blundell’s School to register a 3rd place for Archie Collins and Ben Whalley, 4th place for Harry Pite and Hugo Bonsey and 6th place for Chris Shaw and Charlie Wilson. Our boat of Louis Jenkin and Kiko Liu battled to 13th position overall and was the 2nd fastest mixed boat – an excellent result for a crew who hadn’t paddled and trained together before the event!

Next up, the fun and tactics of the 200m elimination, which saw 30 boats lined up on the start – the slowest five or six being eliminated at the end of the race. Five races later, Cranleigh had three boats in the final five; Hugo and Harry just being ‘robbed’ of a place by a margin of about three inches.  Will Dahl and Jack Collins won again, just holding off Archie Collins and Ben Whalley with Chris Shaw and Charlie Wilson in 4th place. Kiko and Louis were again the 2nd fastest in their category.

After lunch, with the weather and river conditions holding, the marathon began. By the end of the first quarter, Will and Jack had established a commanding lead which was never threatened. Archie and Ben couldn’t quite chase down a Blundell’s boat, but finished in 3rd. Harry and Hugo were involved in a cat and mouse chase with another Blundell’s boat and played a blinder on the portage, overtaking and maintaining their lead to take 4th place, all whilst Chris and Charlie were close behind in 6th place. Kiko and Louis consolidated their reputation as the 2nd fastest mixed crew, despite a swim during the race.

A great day, with Cranleigh paddlers wining every race as well as Will and Jack taking home the Sprint and Marathon individual titles. Many thanks to all supporters for helping the event to run so smoothly. A great day, great racing and a great result for Cranleigh.