GB Rowing Team Trials preview: McKellar and Chin making the most of their last-minute partnership

Rowan McKellar and Rebecca Chin had never rowed together before being partnered for the GB Rowing Team Senior, U23 and FISU Trials this weekend, but they’re looking to make the best of the situation


Rebecca Chin (left) and Rowan McKellar will race together this weekend (photos: Naomi Baker)

“At the end of the day we have to get from A to B as fast as possible, so we’ll see how it goes.”

It hasn’t been the ideal build-up to the GB Rowing Team Senior, U23 & FISU Trials for Rowan McKellar or her pairs partner Rebecca Chin. McKellar’s original partner was forced to miss the event through injury, while a back problem for Chin also kept her sidelined for a period this winter.

But the pair are making the most of the challenge of becoming crewmates at the last minute – in fact they’ve never even trained in the same crew as each other. While Chin has been through the Trials process a number of times before, McKellar is doing it for the first time, having studied at the University of California for four years until 2017.

“It’s a little bit daunting with a lot of small boats here, so the lake will be busy,” McKellar said. “It’s familiar territory, though. We train here every day which makes it a lot more relaxing.”

Of course, studying Stateside doesn’t exile rowers from the GB programme – indeed McKellar won World U23 silver with Ohio State graduate Holly Norton in 2015 and finished fourth in the four a year later.

And having graduated in 2017, the Scot easily integrated herself into the Senior squad, rowing in the four at the World Cup in Lucerne and the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton.

“It has been really nice [being part of the team],” she said. “It was a little tough over the summer because we were already in crew boats [when I arrived] and training was a bit more separate.

“But this last winter of training has been really nice as you get to know people more and more. It’s made me feel more comfortable all of the time and it’s a really good group to be a part of.”

“This is a long winter of training, and it’s a bit colder than in California, but it has been nice not to have to focus on College as well as training.”

Chin, meanwhile, says the Trials process doesn’t faze her much any more, although her injury has made her winter a little more difficult than normal.

“It has been a different build up, but I make sure I approach Trials the same as I always have,” she said. “Luckily I don’t get hugely nervous about this kind of thing, so I stay as calm as I can.

“It’s nice to finally get the competitive side out again [in side-by-side racing]. When you’re doing a time trial you’re really pushing as hard as you can, but you get that extra bit of energy and drive when you’re next to someone.”

She said of the competition between GB Rowing Team crewmates: “By this point I feel as I’ve done so many Trials that it becomes part of the package. Now, when I see a boat, I don’t see the individuals in there. If your friend does well then you’re happy for them afterwards, but during the race that doesn’t occur to me.”

The GB Rowing Team Senior, U23 & FISU Trials take place in Caversham on 14-15 April. Click here to view the entry list (which is subject to change) and keep an eye on British Rowing’s social media channels for all the action from the racing.