The beginning of the half-term break saw one of the ‘big three’ events of the Rowing year in the shape of the National Schools Regatta, held over three days at Eton Dorney. There were some outstanding performances by Westminster pupils, including 3 Golds and 1 Silver.
Matters started quietly on the Friday with the J14s in action in their Octos, and, both crews defied their lack of experience to perform well in finishing 15th & 13th respectively.
Saturday saw much more Westminster involvement – and much more Westminster success! In the Fours Cup, the crew of Oliver Haddad, Thomas Wagstaff, Constantine Holle, Krishan Budhdeo & Thomas Wong took the Gold medal by the closest of margins (0.71 secs) from the Aberdeen Schools Association. This was followed by another gold in the J16 Championship Eights as the Westminster crew – William Chen, Charles Cartisser, Nirav Tomasi, Oliver Ellis, Oliver Li, Wilder Fulford, Caspar Griffin, William De mol van Otterloo & Tobias Bernard – beat Eton College and broke the event record in the process. Also on Saturday, there was a fourth place in J16 Second Eights, a B Final win in Championship Eights for the 1st VIII, 13th place in J15 Championship Eights and 18th place in Championship Quads. Also, Emma Kohlmayer showed her dramatic progression by reaching the Final of the Championship Girls Single Sculls, although nerves and inexperience got the better of heras she finished eighth.
The last day of the Regatta brought another Westminster gold as the crew of Fulford, Ellis, De mol van Otterloo and Tomasi dominated the opposition and smashed the event record by 9 seconds in winning the J16 Coxless Fours (Windsor Cup). In the same event the B crew were the best Second Four by some distance as they performed excellently to make the Final also and finish sixth overall. There was more medal success in the Championship Coxless Fours (Royal Engineer’s Cup) as the Westminster A crew (Angus Stevenson, James Stevenson, Adam von Bismarck & Arnav Sawhney) picked up an excellent Silver medal and nearly caught St Paul’s for the Gold. In the same event, Westminster B reached the semi-finals before finishing 4th in the B final and 10th overall.
Tuesday and Thursday before half-term saw the U15s & U14As respectively take on their counterparts from local rivals, Alleyn’s School. The U15 match at Vincent Square on Tuesday was a thriller which went to the last over. Batting first, Alleyn’s made a challenging 126-3 off their 20 overs, and, Westminster seemed to have left themselves too much to do as they needed 70 runs off the last 7 overs. However, Kai Mistry (51*), with a crucial cameo from Harry Sweeting, had other ideas as he took it deep into the last over. With 5 runs needed off the last two balls, Mistry stepped across his stumps in Viv Richards-esque style and lifted the ball over square leg for a towering six to win the match, and bring up his half-century simultaneously.
By comparison, Thursday’s U14A T20 contest at Alleyn’s was much more mundane as Westminster posted 138-5 in their innings, with Sachin Lavender (26) top-scoring once again. In reply, the opposition were never really in the hunt as they were strangled by the bowling off Aditya Gupta (3-8) and Alec Brooke (3-25) to finish 35 runs short at 103-8.