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Filippi and Radley College

Filippi believe in the power of relationships. To Filippi, businesses are not only built over the lifecycle of products or clever marketing campaigns – they’re built through relationships and friendships that stand the test of time and evolve to become mutually beneficial in every circumstance.

That is why they have always focused their efforts on developing meaningful interaction with their customers. Now, they want to tell their stories and how they’ve achieved success with the support and help of Filippi.

“I know that we’re pitching up on the start line and the boat is absolutely not an issue. We’re in the best possible equipment and that’s all I ask for”.

Sam Townsend

Radley College are one example of a boat club whose cooperation with Filippi dates back several years. Nestled in the heartlands of the English countryside, they’ve been one of the most consistently successful rowing clubs at junior level in the UK for over a decade. Their long-term commitment to excellence, both physically and academically, has seen them deliver schoolboy crews to the very top table of junior rowing, with numerous medals at national and international level. Radley had three alumni racing together in the Great Britain Men’s Eight at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, a glowing testament to the quality of their program and the passion for rowing that is instilled in these boys from a young age.

Sam Townsend (himself a former Team GB senior athlete) is Master-In-Charge of Rowing, a position he assumed in 2016 after retirement from the sport. “To be honest, I was actually more of a coach even when I was still an athlete which probably annoyed some of my actual coaches,” he laughed. “It was something I’d always considered as really interesting, and the Radley role came up at the right time. I found out the day before we left Poznan after the third World Cup, so it was comforting to know I had something lined up”.

“I’m naturally quite pessimistic and reserved as a person but there was a period in the day (at the National Schools’ Regatta) where there was a fleet of white boats ending up in medal-winning positions”

Sam Townsend

Under Sam’s leadership, in combination with a broader coaching team, Radley have flourished. Last season, they won four gold medals at the National Schools’ Regatta and collected an additional silver and bronze on a stellar day for the boat club. The only slightly sour note was that the first eight – racing in a carbon reverse-wing Filippi – finished seventh in the ‘A’ final of Championship Eights. “A lot of our boys still play rugby through the winter,” explained Sam. “We often don’t get them into the fold until the spring which means the development curve always peaks a little later”. Despite that muted showing, the crew recovered to make the final of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, only losing out to a superb St Paul’s unit by a third of a length.

“I’m naturally quite pessimistic and reserved as a person but there was a period in the day (at the National Schools’ Regatta) where there was a fleet of white boats ending up in medal-winning positions” said Sam. It’s always a pleasure for Filippi to watch their boats take young athletes to glory and Radley’s commitment and patronage to our product is something we value highly. Filippi’s distinctive white and blue now outflanks all others on the start-line of the largest international events and Radley have played a key role in helping develop our presence in the UK.

“I came from the GB team where most of our boats are obviously yellow, so one of the first questions I asked was why Filippi,” said Sam. “Before John (first eight coach) arrived at the school over a decade ago, the club did not have much of a relationship with Filippi. He wanted to create a boathouse with consistency and value throughout. With the impressive quality on offer and a price point undercutting the most expensive brands in the market, John saw the opportunity to build a fleet with Filippi”.

Since that moment, Filippi have worked hard to respond to every need and request Radley have, ensuring that they are the beneficiary of an unending resolve to out-innovate and out-compete the boat-building market. Andy Thomas, boatman at Radley College, has worked with Filippi for over a decade and noticed the evolution of the product. “You can really see that Filippi have moved their product forward,” he said. “It seems almost everything has changed since 15 years ago. They’ve looked at all components of the boat from a performance and use point of view as well as the hull itself”.

GB senior international Charlie Elwes, who raced for Radley as a junior before travelling across the pond to compete for Yale University at a student, spoke of the journey a young athlete at the school goes on. “It’s hugely aspirational seeing the first eight compete in a boat of that quality,” he said. “When I eventually made the top crew, it was the first really special boat I’d ever used, and you could instantly feel the difference”.

“You can really see that Filippi have moved their product forwardIt seems almost everything has changed since 15 years ago.

Andy Thomas

“The personal touch that David, Paul Willis and the team still bring to Radley is huge,” added Sam. “The latest boats off the production line – particularly with the reverse-wing – are exceptional and we were one of the first to test the shell. We had a slight question mark over one delivery once so flew out to see Filippi in Donoratico. David greeted us, asked us the right questions, and gave us the right answers. He took us through the factory and showed us the latest shells and the exciting move to reverse-wing carbon. There and then, he said he wanted us to be one of the first to row in the boat”.

That investment in customer relationships continues to pay dividends, none more profound than the armada of Radley boats winning medals and races on that balmy Saturday afternoon in May at the National Schools’ Regatta. 

That receptiveness to feedback is something Andy has also identified as critical. “Our 15s were finding the F42 a bit twitchy as a year group learning to sweep,” he explained. “Paul (Willis) suggested we try the F29 which is an older hull shape but a bit more forgiving which has worked really well. Filippi have also proven flexible on build options and listening to feedback”.

“As a performance director, Filippi give me complete peace of mind,” Sam concluded. “I know that we’re pitching up on the start line and the boat is absolutely not an issue. We’re in the best possible equipment and that’s all I ask for”.

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