Trial VIIIs 2016 - Report,
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Mild weather greeted triallists on 11 December, when Henley Reach was bathed in sunshine, enabling Sunday afternoon walkers as well as rowing enthusiasts to witness some close racing over the 2000m course.

OUWLRC "Liberté" en-route to freedom

OUWLRC kicked off proceedings, when Liberté on the Berkshire station quickly gained the upper hand over Egalité on Bucks. Both crews had a splashy start but Laurie Bonfils, last year’s winning stroke, then laid down a rhythm which saw her crew draw into a one length lead at Remenham. Despite having two more returning half-Blues on board, with Dani Edmunds at 7 and Anna Corderoy in the cox’s seat, Egalité couldn’t close the deficit, and in the closing stages Liberté upped their game to move away to a 1 ¾ length win in a time of 6 mins 32 secs.

CUWBC Lightweights once again decided to race two fours, named Hot and Bothered, as part of their selection procedure. Iona Casley, stroke of Bothered, quickly led her crew into a one length lead and, having established clear water, their cox, Gemma Schofield, moved across towards Bucks. Despite repeated warnings from the umpire, Dave Hancock, Bothered maintained their station and crossed the line 1 ¼ lengths clear, only for the umpire to show his red flag. The result was allowed to stand, but it was clear that similar steering on Race Day would have resulted in disqualification. Winning time 6 mins 52 secs.

CUWBC's "Bothered" win their race

"Pork Pies" took the win in the CULRC trial VIIIs

CULRC raced two very evenly matched crews, named Mince Pies and Pork Pies as a nod to food often denied to lightweights at Christmas! Returning half-Blue Jamie Brown stroked Mince Pies to an early lead but Pork Pies, with two more winning 2016 athletes on board, gathered momentum and regained the lead. Pork Pies never got clear, and the margin stayed at ¾ length until the Farm, where Mince Pies came back hard and kept up the pressure all the way to the line. Pork Pies hung on to a ¼ length verdict in a time of 5 mins 41 secs.

There was a similar race pattern for OULRC, when Braai on Bucks raced BBQ on the Berkshire station. BBQ, with one returning half-Blue on board, took the early lead before Braai, with Henry Smith and Rowan Arthur as the stern pair, clawed back the deficit. Braai then moved out to a ¾ length lead but BBQ could make no impression, and the margin was maintained all the way to the line. Braai took the ¾ length win in a time of 5 mins 49 secs.

-- Robert Treharne-Jones

OULRC's "Braai" proving that the South Africans know best when it comes to grilled meat...

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