HRR Reaction and Review- The Fawley Challenge Cup

This was probably my favorite final of them all at HRR, an excellent display of sculling from both crews with Marlow, my favorites to win the event, prevailing at the last. It really was that close, with Sir William Borlase leading Marlow from the off and beating them to every timing signal except the finish! 

Another record fell this year, with Marlow beating the current record by one second in favorable conditions. The Fawley was hit by one of the biggest upsets in recent HRR history, with Leander, arguably the biggest challenger to Marlow, crashing out on the Friday due to a snapped blade. Drama, drama, drama….


A superb, and very mature, performance gave this exceptional Marlow crew the honour of having pretty much every national title under their name. They had a lethal finishing sprint and this was shown at NSR and Henley as they spent much of the course in 2nd/3rd place before powering through in the final few meters. The ability is unprecedented, with 3 of the top 4 scullers in the country sitting in the boat along with Charlie Simon who, being no dead weight, rowed for England last year and was in the Fawley quad that finaled the year before. They had a relatively unchallenged run through to the Sunday, beating Westminster B, Tigre and Maidenhead fairly comfortably before their 1/2 length victory over SWB in the final. It seems like that move by Sholto Carnegie from City of Oxford to Marlow turned out to be a wry one…..

Sir William Borlase

Considering their performances to date this year, and their average age, this crew has hugely over performed. With only one J18 on board, in the form of Harry Shimmin, SWB really outdid themselves, beating a number of very fast crews in the process. With 3/4 of the boat available for another shot next year, including the formidable J16 stern pairing of Chris Lawrie and Rufus Biggs, expect Borlase to be strong next year. These boys came home 4th at NSR but really pushed Marlow to the line at Marlow Regatta in Senior Quads, displaying early signs of improvement. Rumour was that Robin Dowell took the boys out of school for 2 weeks prior to HRR for an intensive, 2 sessions a day training regime in the build up, which paid dividends. They had a strong Wednesday crew to deal with in Northwich, who pre-qualified but they dispatched them relatively comfortably before beating the Windsor Boys School and Hilversumse Roeivereniging Cornelis Tromp, the Dutch National champions. They were slightly unfortunate to lose the final, literally in the last 100m, but I’m sure they’ll be back next year for another crack.


Many will say that Maidenhead were extraordinarily lucky to progress past the Friday after Leander’s mishap but they are a very well drilled unit, who pushed Leander hard at Marlow Regatta so there were no givens. These boys came 6th at NSR but obviously improved their speed coming into HRR as they led Marlow to the barrier on the Saturday. I was pleased to see these guys progress as, for a number of them, it is their last junior HRR. They beat a strong outfit from Star on the Thursday before cruising to a slightly soured victory on the Friday. They gave Marlow a good race on the Saturday before eventually being outgunned by the superior power and experience of the winning crew.

Hilversumse Roeivereniging, Cornelis Tromp 

I thought that these guys probably deserved a seed and I was proved correct as they beat two seeded crews before falling to Sir William Borlase. They were reputed to be the Dutch junior champions in both the 4x and 2x and looked strong coming into the regatta. They have a pretty efficient method of sculling, complimented by their height and strength. They beat RGS High Wycombe on the Wednesday before becoming the only crew to beat their respective seed on the Thursday, by beating an, admittedly, relatively poor Walton crew. The real surprise for me however was seeing them turn on the burners to beat a much fancied unit from Westminster on the Friday. I fancied the Westminster boys, coached by the legendary Bill Mason, to at least make the weekend but, for the second year in a row, they succumbed to a disappointing Friday exit. The Dutch crew were eventually turned over  by Borlase but put up a good fight and were certainly in the top 4 crews in the event. 

So, congratulations to a fantastic Marlow crew who lived up to their hefty billing by winning the prestigious Fawley Challenge Cup. Bring on 2014!


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