Future rowing champions are launched as pupils seek victory at ‘Try Rowing’ Boat Races

Honours were even when teams from Parkside and Chesterton Community Colleges met for the annual Try Rowing Boat Races at Milton Country Park this week.

The adrenaline-fuelled relay races were the finale to the Try Rowing outreach project organised by Rob Roy Boat Club for local schoolchildren who would be unlikely otherwise to have the chance to try the sport.

While no-one actually fell in, there were plenty of thrills and spills watched by parents, teachers, and former participants from previous Try Rowing Boat Races as the pupils raced the 300m course around the lake at the Country Park to an accompaniment of excited encouragement and instructions from their team-mates on the bank.

Pupils, selected from Years 7 and 8 after a rigorous aptitude test in the gym, had been practising for the event over the summer term, coached by members of Rob Roy Boat Club. “I am really proud of how well everyone has progressed in a very short time,” said Jo Burch, project coordinator, “I think some pupils who didn’t think of themselves as ‘sporty’ have surprised themselves by discovering a sport they can enjoy. The self-esteem which this generates is immense: even after just these four sessions you see a different light in the eyes of pupils who, at the start, hung back nervously, afraid of making mistakes. For me, that’s a huge part of the purpose of the project. Yes, we’re looking to identify talent – Rob Roy BC has had at least one representative in a National Rowing Squad pretty much every year since the 1970s – but we also want to unlock pride and achievement in pupils who may not usually expect success. Of course, the whole thing is also great fun!”

“I would like to thank Jerry Dale and the Rowing Foundation trustees for funding the project this year. We also had wonderful support from the Cambridge Sport Lakes Trust, from rowing merchandise supplier Rock the Boat, and from The Leys School whose boats we borrowed – like most things connected with rowing, it was a real team effort. Even a family of swans came along to enjoy the occasion!”

For the record, the rowing machine marathon challenge was won by Chesterton and the two relay races on the water were won by teams from Parkside.

Taking part in the Try Rowing project were:

Chesterton: Maddie Gordon, Ray Magee, Maria Ramjee, Nina Ridgeon, Alicia Valentine, Eszter Vamos, Oskar Benham, Diego Castro, Onur Ciftci, Callum Irving, Hassin Rahman and Oliver Wareham

Parkside: Ben Collier, Olivia Davidson, Havin Kara, Abigail Jackson, Imogen Johnson, Lily Martin, Ella Newton, Jasmine Pellegrini, Carla Roth, Joseph Schofield, Lia Spigel-Emmerich, Reuben Volland

For further details, please contact Jo Burch at joannaburch1964@gmail.com