Sport Writer Jake Davies is optimistic about England's futureWritten by Jake Davies on 2nd January 2019
Rowers claim varsity success
Birmingham's rowers continued their successful season last weekend with a dominant performance to win the Midlands varsity cup, before a strong showing at the University of Worcester Head of the Severn the following day.
Saturday saw the annual varsity boat races against Warwick reinstated after a six-year hiatus. Men’s captain Dan Clarke got the event off to a winning start with a clear victory over his Warwick counterpart in the men’s single sculls, crossing the line outside the Worcester boathouse with an easy lead of two boat lengths. This was just the start of a winning streak that saw Birmingham come home with eight out of a possible ten wins, with vocal support from both sides adding to a raucous atmosphere at the finish line. With the bar set high, the Birmingham pairing of club president James Manfield and Italian ex-international rower Andrea Ferrazzo took their boat to a close victory over the Warwick pair after a clash of boats and oars under the rail bridge.
The novice women continued their unbeaten record since beginning rowing in October last year, sweeping Warwick aside in both the fours and eights varsity races, with the women's novice 2nd IV of Cassie Summers, Kate Hurrell, Megan Garner, Fiona Webb and cox Kat Eyles adding insult to injury with a strong win over the Warwick senior women's top boat. The wins kept on flowing, with the men’s novice eight and novice four adding further victories to the Birmingham whitewash, whilst the women's senior eight held off opposition in a tightly matched race before opening up a lead in the home straight to win. Small consolation was offered to the opposition as they gained narrow victories in both the highly competitive men’s senior four and eight, but this did little to damage Birmingham's huge lead to bring the Midlands Varsity Cup home.
Novice women's coach Alex Darby said ‘I’m incredibly proud of the effort my squad has put in this year and these wins are absolutely deserved’, adding ‘we are now undefeated after seven races, and we will be going to the BUCS head races aiming for nothing less than winning it all’. Sunday saw all crews back on the River Severn (despite the snow) for the Head of the Severn, a time trial over 6km. Once again the novice women didn’t disappoint, winning both their classes with a 20-second lead in the eight and a 90-second lead in the four, with the 2nd VIII and 3rd VIII hot on their tail in fourth and sixth place. A crowded river resulted in a wayward University of Lincoln crew crashing into the senior women's four, and denting the pace of what could have been another winning crew. However the squad continued their winning ways with the novice four of Joe Cowling, John Scott, Oliver Laband, Alex Steele and cox Mishal Zahoor getting their second win of the weekend, while the senior men’s quad took a convincing victory of almost one minute over the rest of the competition. Strong second places for the women's senior eight, men’s novice eight and men’s senior four capped off an inspiring weekend of racing for the club going into the BUCS head races in two weeks time.
Head coach Rich Poole said the results ‘reinforce what we have seen so far this year - the club as a whole is in a very solid position with lots of talent progressing very quickly’. With BUCS points imminently up for grabs he added, ‘I am very happy with what we are currently capable of and I am very excited about where our performance can move on to in the near future’. With the club in such a strong position in the middle of the winter head races, it should be a summer regatta season to remember.
Written by Doug Brown