MONMOUTH Rowing Club
product Louise Hart, pictured, topped a superb regatta season with silver at the British Rowing Championships at the end of October, just two seconds behind Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
The 25-year-old, who launched her career on the Wye under club coach John Jenkins, helped her lightweight women’s quadruple scull leave the likes of London 2012 gold medallist Kat Copeland trailing at Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre, as a headwind gusting at up to 40mph reduced day two’s racing to a time-trial over 1750m.
In bronze were another two rowers with Monmouth RC connections, in sisters Mathilda and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne – a world U23 finalist and a world junior medallist respectively – who regularly train at the club during the summer holidays, while the former also landed silver in the women’s doubles.
Also on the podium was former Monmouth Comprehensive School pupil Louis Paterson, who stroked the Oxford Brookes eight to the universities plaque finishing sixth overall in a field stacked with Olympic and world medallists.
Louise Hart said: “We knew we’d put down a really good race and couldn't have done any more, but we didn’t know it was quite that good. It’s a fantastic result.”
Her Wallingford boat finished just 2.7 seconds down on the quad scull of the Olympic and world women’s champion pair, who are coached by Monmouth RC life member Robin Williams, and who had earlier won the British coxless fours title with GB heavyweight crewmates Jess Eddie and Zoe Lee.
Even more impressively, Hart’s crew was giving away at least two stone a seat to their major rivals into the brutal headwind, and comfortably landed the lightweight plaque as well as silver overall.
The Hodgkins-Byrne sisters’ Gloucester-based crew, which included double Olympic finalist Beth Rodford, took third six seconds back on Hart’s boat by just 0.02 seconds from Olympic champion Copeland’s Tees boat.
Mathilda, 19, also took silver with Rodford in the doubles from Copeland and GB crewmate Tina Stiller, with Kiwi world singles champion Emma Twigg, on a year’s university course in the UK, taking gold with London 2012 Olympian Mel Wilson.
For Hart, British silver capped a run of success dating back to the British Universities Championships in May when she took championship double sculls gold with Loughborough University partner Katie Bartlett on the same Nottingham course.
At Henley Women’s Regatta in June, she took the senior lightweight singles title with final victory by just under two lengths, following on from her win in senior open singles a year earlier.
Racing for England in the Home Countries Regatta in Cork in July, she helped her women’s quadruple scull beat Wales into second by a length.
Meanwhile, back on the Nottingham course at the British Championships, Paterson, a member of Monmouth RC’s 2009 Henley eight, led the Oxford Brookes eight to the universities plaque finishing 12 seconds down on Leander’s crew containing eight Olympic and world medallists, while current Monmouth Comprehensive pupil Emily Richards, 17, placed a creditable 12th out of 26 racing in a Welsh composite in the women’s quadruple sculls.
Both places were based on the time-trial, as the duo were sadly denied the opportunity to go head-to-head with GB's stars in the semi-finals by the weather.