By Martin Kay
NCRA had nine athletes selected to represent England at the Home International Regatta (HIR) at Strathclyde Park, featuring teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Ash Cowley was first up, racing in a composite with Jack from Tideway Scullers School in the men’s lightweight coxless pair.
They put in a solid performance to come in third after having only a couple of weeks training together and restricting their diet to make the crucial weigh-in.
This was a tough race as they were up against strong Scottish and Irish established club crews.
Mia O’Donnell and Liv Bates were next to race in the junior women’s coxless pair.
Dominating the race from start to finish – in a repeat of their performance at the Junior British Championships a week earlier – the girls finished first and secured the vital four points for the England team.
Next up were Esther Murray, Jess Austin, Meg Thomas and Jas Brankin in the JW coxless four.
Having raced the Scottish crew the week before at the Junior British Championships, the girls knew they had to go out hard and take the race to them.
In what was one of the highlight races of the day, our boat and the Scottish crew led the rest of the field at the 500m marker with our girls moving to a slender lead at halfway.
With nothing to split the two crews, the Scottish crew edged out to marginal lead with 500m to go.
Fighting all the way our girls tried to claw back the Scots with 250m to go, but they held their nerve to the finish line. A very respectable second place for our girls.
Our lightweight senior women, racing lightweight double sculls, finished third in what is always a hotly contested and intense senior category, where older athletes often capitalise on repeated experience in how to perform well while making weight.
Megan Pepper and Aerin Thompson, rookies in lightweight crew rowing and still as U23, found themselves on a steep learning curve.
They considered the race to have been their best performance this year, keeping a good length lead ahead of Ireland, so came away from Strathclyde pleased with this result and fired up to take it further next year.
In the final race of the day for our junior women, Mia, Liv, Jas & Esther teamed with up the JW coxed four to race the JW eight.
With only two sessions in the eight prior to the race, the girls knew they had to execute the perfect race to come away with the win.
In impressive style the girls dominated from start to finish, breaking to clear water at halfway and winning the race by over two lengths.
A final four points in the bag for the England Junior Women’s team meant they were once again bringing the trophy home
The HIR brought an amazing 2018-19 season to a close for NCRA. What a season it has been.
Sixteen wins at domestic regattas, five national medals and two wins at the HIR.
Our athletes will now take a well-deserved break with training starting again in the second half of August.