Four crews from East Anglia Youth Rowing (EAYR) took to the Henley Royal Regatta course in sculling quads on Finals Day, Sunday 2nd July, to showcase their skills and celebrate the growing success of an inspiring programme working with state schools across the region to improve access and inclusion in rowing. Students from Ely College and North Cambridge Academy proudly represented their partner clubs Isle of Ely Rowing Club and City of Cambridge Rowing Club, surrounded by National and International champions and in the spotlight of the whole Rowing World.

The EAYR programme aims to introduce the sport to those who would not otherwise have the opportunity, including young people less likely to engage in physical activity, and those with special educational needs or physical disability, at state schools across East Anglia.

Supported by Henley Royal Regatta Charitable Trust, British Rowing’s Love Rowing and The Rowing Foundation, EAYR has developed programmes and activities involving 14 state schools in 2022/23, and works with the support of 8 town and independent school rowing clubs to provide access to rowing.

The programme also aims to provide a transformational experience that will combine fun on the water with life skills, educational inspiration and leadership programmes for 11-18 year olds.

“The rowers did brilliantly, especially in the windy conditions and they should all be very proud of themselves.” said HRR organisers.

“It was incredible to visit a new river and be part of such a famous regatta with my friends, I never imagined I would do anything like this”

North Cambridge Academy student

“It’s not just about rowing. We would like all of our participants to develop personally, get experience that might not be open to them elsewhere, and support them in aspiring to reach their potential in life,” said Programme director Susannah Cass.

The four crews dashed down the famed Henley course in front of the thousands of supporters on the banks of the Thames. Henley is a dream for every top national and international rowing athlete and is the most prestigious amateur regatta in the world.

The EAYR rowers then dressed up to visit the Regatta Enclosure to mingle with the rowing community, watch the world’s best rowers in nail-biting finals, and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere.

Facts and figures: EAYR was started in 2021 by members City of Cambridge Rowing Club and has rapidly grown, offering indoor and on-water rowing opportunities to schools in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, and working with town rowing clubs from Cambridge to Norwich.

“What a different experience it was from the everyday outings on the Great Ouse and Cam and at local regattas, it’s clear how much they enjoyed it and learned from it.”

Isle of Ely coach, Richard Maxey