Crew feature

The GB Rowing Team announced a new lightweight women’s quadruple sculls crew which will race at World Cup III in Lucerne from 11-13 July, and they have taken the opportunity to blood the new combination at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta.

The quad of Charlotte Taylor, Brianna Stubbs, Eleanor Piggott and Ruth Walczak will race in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup at Henley. This is an open weight event, and the crew will also race in the open weight quadruple sculls in Lucerne.

23-year old Brianna Stubbs, who rows for Wallingford RC, commented on the challenge of racing in the open weight category, saying: “I think it takes a bit of the pressure off and it frees us up to give our best performance because we’re racing against people who are bigger and stronger so we have to be technically together, so it’s a good challenge”.

Stubbs is the current Under 23 World Champion in the lightweight women’s double with her fellow Wallingford teammate Ellie Piggott, and she also spoke about striking up this combination on the international stage: “I always enjoy rowing with Ellie. There’s a really good sense of trust and we’re in the boat together in the middle so that’s working well at the moment”.

“It’s great to row with people who are up and coming. Charlie is coming up really fast, she’s got no fear and she’s totally uninhibited which is a great attitude to have because it really drives the boat on. Ruth has rowed at loads of Championships before and has had a really good run in the single. It’s just a boat bursting with talent and excitement”, added Stubbs.

Charlotte Taylor, of Putney Town RC, made her international debut at the European Championships in Belgrade earlier this year where she finished fourth in the ‘A’ final of the lightweight single. She then produced an outstanding performance with Piggot at World Cup II in Aiguebelette, taking a silver medal behind Kat Copeland and Imogen Walsh in the lightweight women’s double as GB completed a one-two in the event.

Taylor spoke about her experience so far with the GB rowing team, saying: “It’s been really good! It’s just a really exciting time for me. I worked hard to get here, so it’s just about taking a few moments along the way to enjoy it. We definitely got that in at Aiguebelette, which was a nice reward mid-season”.

Speaking about the crews chances at both Henley and World Cup III, Taylor added: “ It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve not got much quad experience but we’re all really excited about a new project. We can go to Lucerne with the goal of getting as much racing experience as we can before the World Championships, so the next two weeks is a big learning experience for us”.

Walczak, of Molesey BC, will stroke the quad and is coming into the crew off the back of a silver medal in Aiguebelette in the lightweight women’s single, so although this combination is relatively inexperienced at international level, they all have successes against their name to take into the next two weeks of racing.

The GB Rowing Team women’s eight will also have a busy fortnight with races at Henley this weekend, in the Remenham Challenge Cup, and the World Cup III in Lucerne.

The eight will come up against some stiff competition at Henley’s 175th Regatta, with the Dutch and Australian crews both in attendance. 

The squad is unchanged from the one which brought home a bronze medal from World Cup II in Aiguebelette, and cox of the eight Zoe de Toledo spoke about the prospect of racing at Henley in the build up to World Cup III: “I’m really looking forward to the races we’ve got. Having the Aussies and the Dutch here will be a stern test, but these are the crews we want to make sure that we’re beating to ensure ourselves a place on the podium in Amsterdam [at the World Championships]”.

She added: “We’ve got some advantages – we’re on home water and we know the course well, so hopefully that’ll pay off for us”.

There have been one or two changes in the women’s and men’s eight line-ups so far this season as GB seek to find the right balance ahead of the World Championships in August. Edinburgh’s Polly Swann, who raced with Helen Glover in the women’s pair at the European Championships earlier this year, winning a gold medal, has been drafted into the eight following the return of Heather Stanning to the pair.

Swann commented on her switch to the eight, saying: “It’s a completely different feeling because you’re going significantly faster but I like to think I bring some confidence into the crew and that the girls around me can feel like I’m there to back them up”.

“Equally, I’ve seen the girls training through the year and I know how strong they are, how fit they are and how good they are at rowing and I feel like they bring so much to the table I have no fear that they’d sell their souls to try and get themselves out to the front”.

Durham’s Jess Eddie is one of the more experienced rowers in the crew and she was in an upbeat mood looking ahead to the World Cup III in Switzerland. She said: “We’re feeling really excited about the World Cup. This time of year is pretty jam packed with racing and training, it’s important to keep training hard up to the World Cup. We’re lucky that Henley is happening as well so we can get a good race this weekend building up to Lucerne”.

Eddie also spoke about the special nature of Henley and the exciting prospect of racing an Australian crew on home territory: “Henley is pretty unique. We never race side-by-side anywhere else and then you add on top thousands of people watching us drinking their Pimms. It’s brilliant, we love racing here! It makes you really proud to race here as a Brit, with all the support on the sides. I hope 99% of the crowd is going to be shouting for us. It’s great for us to come and race here the week before the World Cup. We love doing it and we’re really excited to race”.

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