The men’s squad went unbeaten and women’s squad medalled in eight of the nine events they raced over the weekend, in what was a great first step of the regatta season for the whole club.
On Day 1, the men raced in Championship and Intermediate eights. They had won both events every year since 2013, and this year did not disappoint. With two eights in the championship category, the 1st VIII stormed to a seven second victory. However, what made this even more impressive, was that the crew in second place was our 2nd VIII, who finished the race with a clear water margin over bronze medallists Newcastle. This is the first time since second eights were allowed in championship categories that a club has taken the top two positions, and this demonstrates the depth in the current squad. The same result was replicated in intermediate eights- with a 1-2 finish in this event.
A smaller women’s contingent raced on Saturday- but they produced some impressive results. Of three lightweight doubles entered, it was Alice Harper and Beth Meakin who took the honours in the championship category, with a seven second margin between themselves and second place. Brookes also finished in 5th place. In the Int W4x category, the Brookes crew battled the whole way in the final, with positions changing place throughout the race. However, the crew came up just short of a medal, finishing in 4th place.
On Sunday, the men returned in a range of coxed and coxless fours. The crews made short work of reaching their respective finals, and in the championship coxless category there was a strong challenge by Newcastle who took the initial lead, with the crews almost level through the 500m marker. However, Brookes were able to take control through the middle of the race and finished five seconds ahead- reclaiming their title which was last won in 2017.
The coxed counterparts had a more straightforward task and dominated their final from the first stroke. Despite a race for medals taking place behind, they stretched to a commanding lead in the second half of the race, finishing 15 seconds clear of the field and claiming yet another gold medal. The intermediate four, despite a strong challenge from Cambridge, also took a convincing win in their final.
The women were split across Championship and Intermediate Eights, and both events produced exciting finals where positions changed throughout. The Champ 8 were pushed all the way by the University of London, but were able to hold onto the bronze medal behind Newcastle and Edinburgh respectively. In the Intermediate category, the Brookes crew rowed consistently throughout and finished the race with a clear water margin over the rest of the field to take the gold medal.
The men’s squad returned home before Monday’s racing to focus on the upcoming Duisburg Regatta, whilst the women raced in a number of smaller boats. Perhaps the highlight of the day was one of the closest races of the regatta, where Brookes came from behind in Intermediate W4+ to edge a crew from Glasgow University by just 0.1 of a second and claim the gold medal.
This was reproduced by the Championship LW4x, who stormed away from the field, eventually winning by 15 seconds- retaining their title won in 2018. In an exciting afternoon of racing, the Championship 4+ took silver after a gutsy row in their final.
Earlier in the afternoon, the lightweight pair of Daisy Leppard and Lieben Dickens stormed through the first 1000m to create an exciting race for the medals. They eventually finished the race with a bronze medal ahead of crews from Oxford University and Nottingham University.
The final event of the weekend was the Intermediate W2x. The scratch pairing of Beth Wilford-Dutton and Katie Metalli had stepped on throughout the days racing, and finished by winning a bronze medal.
The squad next heads to Duisburg Regatta this weekend, where the men’s 1st VIII will have the chance to race the current World Champions, Germany, amongst a very strong field. A number of athletes will also be racing in Great Britain composites- with some crews building up to the World Senior and U23 championships this summer.