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Maidenhead Junior Regatta took place on Sunday 18th May on a 500m upstream course finishing just downstream of Brunel's railway bridge. 12 clubs and schools took part including Maidenhead RC. Conditions were near perfect and a large crowd on the bank cheered on the crews.

 
 
Rowing Club Maidenhead   12 Clubs and Schools, 92 races. Olympic Champion Mark Hunter presented the medals.

The 11 visiting clubs and schools were: Claire's Court School, Henley Rowing Club, Great Marlow School, Tideway Scullers, Langley Academy, Guildford Rowing Club, Canford School, Shiplake Vikings, Lady Eleanor Holles School, Headington School and neighbouring club Eton Excelsior.

Maidenhead Junior Regatta is held under special rules for less experienced and previously less successful junior crews in an environment that means that they can develop their racing skills against opposition of similar experience levels.

There were 92 races plus a couple of re-rows after races ended in dead heats, starting at 9.00am and continuing until 4.30pm. Despite the inexperience levels there were few mishaps and the junior coxes excelled themselves with excellent steering.

All crews raced in coxed quads except J16s who raced in double sculls.

 
Most events were split into two categories: "Beginner A" and "Beginner B" - the former for crews who have been rowing for up to two years but with limited racing success and the latter for crews that have been rowing for less than a year, many of whom were attending their first regatta.

The format of Maidenhead Junior Regatta is designed so that in every event for which there were more than two entries, a repechage system allows crews another chance to race and progress to the next round even if they lose their first race. There were so many entries for the WJ13 B category that the entire event had to be split into two separate halves with prizes awarded for the winners of each of half of the draw. Despite this, the winning crews still had to race four times.
  Maidenhead Rowing Club
 
There was only a small entry from Maidenhead Rowing Club as many of the club's juniors are too experienced or have won too many previous events to be eligible, but the club did enter crews in three events. In all three the Maidenhead crews triumphed, making Maidenhead the second most successful club overall. Neighbours Eton Excelsior entered no fewer than nine crews, requiring some considerable boat-sharing coordination on the part of their coaches.

The Maidenhead WJ15 'A' Quad of Rav Rai, Maja Tomasik, Talia Antioco and Polly Dixon, coxed by Lola Harris, won both their first and second races convincingly against Claire's Court School and Great Marlow School to reach the final against Shiplake Vikings who had also look impressive on their way to the final. The final was tight initially but the Maidenhead Crew gradually pulled away to win by 3 lengths - a satisfying result as two of the girls (Maja and Talia) are still WJ14s and have only been rowing for about a year.

Not to be outdone, the WJ13 'B' (2) Quad of Immie Harding, Izzie Bird, Millie Holgate and Olivia Webster with Tilly Norman coxing, never looked remotely like being beaten against two different crews from Lady Eleanor Holles and one from Langley Academy on the way to the final against Great Marlow School - a final that they also dominated.

The Maidenhead J15 'B' crew had a straight final against Langley Academy. Having only three eligible boys, they borrowed Polly Dixon from the girls boat to join James Leatherbarrow, Evan Charles, Ethan Walters and cox Lizzie Sneller for a convincing win.

  Claire's Court School, Shiplake Vikings and Henley RC all achieved two wins and Eton Excelsior, Canford and Headington all gained one.

Also in attendance was the Chairman of South Bucks District Council (Maidenhead RC is located on the South Bucks side of the river), Councillor Santokh Chhokar who enjoyed watching the racing from the boat of Club President Paul Lion (once a distinguished junior at the club himself). Councillor Chhokkar, who has been highly supportive of the club's plans to build improved land training facilities, co-presented the prizes along with Olympic gold (Beijing) and silver (London) medallist in the lightweight double sculls, Mark Hunter. At the presentation, Mark recalled how he was inspired to start rowing at the age of 14 (the age of many of the competitors) after watching the 1992 Olympics and emphasised the important role that parents play in encouraging the development of junior rowers.

Mark stayed at the club after the presentation, posing for photos with many of the club's juniors - and the no less enthusiastic Councillor Chhokkar - and answering their questions.

The £100 prize for the most successful club at the regatta, kindly donated by Janet Blogg who, along with her late husband Harold, has been a long standing supporter of junior rowing at Maidenhead, was awarded to Guildford Rowing Club who achieved four wins.

 
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