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Matt Burrows

Pangbourne College’s top male rowers put in fantastic performances at the British Rowing Indoor Championships to win two golds out of two entries, as Upper Sixth student Ed Digby continued his recent love affair with the competition.

At one of the biggest events in the British Rowing Calendar, the London Velodrome welcomed hundreds of rowers from international to amateur standard. The list of athletes also included a competitive rowing debut for Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Having medalled three times in his last two visits to the Velodrome, Digby started proceedings for the College by producing a superb race in the Sixth Form Boys 2000m to fight off stiff competition from Adam Stephenson of Twickenham Rowing Club. Digby’s time of 06:13.5 was a second ahead of Stephenson, and a massive 7.5 seconds ahead of third.

The Hesperus rower’s time would have placed him twelfth in the 99 entrants to the Open men’s event, which included five current GB rowers and two other athletes who have won medals for Great Britain.


Having raced at midday, Digby had enough time to recover and join his teammates, Philip Garnier, Ian Blanch and John Pan for the final race of the event which was the Junior Boys eight minute Relay. Competing under the team name “One stroke too many”, Pangbourne’s quartet led from virtually the first stroke in a dominant performance to beat Bedford Modern School Boat Club, which had won this event two years in a row before this race.

Head of Rowing, Mr Mark Woodcock, commented on the boys’ performances, saying: “Everything went perfectly to plan. Ed came under pressure in the middle of the row but held off the chaser to win by a second, and he beat 62 others, so it was never going to be easy”.

“In the team event, the boys knew Bedford Modern would be good because of their record here recently. We’d spent three or four really good sessions trying to get the changeover right and working out the optimum split. It paid off as we won by 34 metres which was relatively comfortable. To be individual and team champions here is a great achievement.”

The Indoor Championships was the latest in a series of Autumn and Winter events which help maintain the form and fitness for Pangbourne’s winter squad, whilst also exposing them to intense, major competitions.

Over October half-term, the College sent a coxed quad to the world-renowned Head of the Charles race in Boston, USA. This is one of the biggest rowing events in the world, with over 11,000 athletes competing across 55 different events.

Digby and Garnier were both members of the coxed quad, rowing alongside Jack Rogers and Barney Symons, with Ryan Thompson in the cox seat. With thousands of spectators in attendance, racing at such an event is an invaluable experience for the College’s rowers.

The final external rowing event of the term took place at Burway Small Boats Head, where Pangbourne took home six trophies. The girls’ quad of Theresa Roth, Charlotte Bateman, Merle Bothur and Sophie Seager wore City of Oxford to win Intermediate 3 quads in an excellent performance

For the boys, Time Weithoff won Novice sculls, Jack Rogers and Barney Symons won Novice double sculls, Garnier and Digby won both Under 18 double sculls and Intermediate 1 coxless pairs, whilst the latter also won the trophy for the fastest sculler at the whole event.

With a packed schedule of rowing in 2018, starting with Head of the Nene and GB Junior Trials in February, the successes of the winter squad will provide an ideal platform for what is an extremely talented College Boat Club.
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