rowingvoice

The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Women’s Head wrap-up

Posted by rowingvoice on March 3, 2012

Talk about a proper processional race:  Thames winning the Women’s Head from a starting position of 12th was a fine return to the days when anyone could shoot at claiming the trophy.  Isn’t that the lowest start place for a winner (other than being a fast new entry) in quite a while?  Anyway, whether you’re a supporter of the red-white-and-black or not, it was a pretty satisfying result, particularly since it meant Belvoir Zurich didn’t manage to bag the pot they clearly thought might be theirs in Olympic year.  I laughed like a drain when I found out a female London RC cox was coxing the Thames crew.  O how times change in so many ways …

The WeHORR committee must have sacrificed a few marshals to the weather gods, because despite six inches of white horses at Harrods and nine at Putney not long before 11am, by the time the race began the wind had dropped and it was sunny and virtually calm.  But with a rapidly dropping tide it was a very slow Head – not a good day to be starting low down, there was barely any stream for the top 50, let alone the next 300.

Which made Borlase A’s swoop upwards as the biggest risers (254 new entry to 38th and the fourth school/junior club home) even more impressive.   I couldn’t find a recent Borlase eight having entered, and don’t recall one, so that might be the club’s first appearance as a full crew rather than a composite. Headington won the junior pennant (I’m so tempted to say ‘of course’ after that sentence, or at the very least, ‘again’) having lost it to LEH last year, their finish point of 17th being a good demonstration of schoolgirl power in an Olympic year.

So what did we find out?  Thames are the club on song, but Sport Imperial, Vesta and Nottingham aren’t far behind, and there’s a pretty fast non-masters group at Barnes Bridge Ladies.   How much did it cost Imperial to have to try and steer round Reading on the wrong side in the final stretch?  Who else lost out through overtaking and being impeded?  No easy way of telling:  there were so many obvious glitches in the Barnes and Hammersmith times published this morning (Furnivall fastest to Barnes, Caius B quickest to Hammersmith?!) that they have been taken down and will be republished later.

In the university classes it will be interesting to see if Brookes, Durham and Newcastle can close the 15-second Head gap to Reading over 2000m at BUCS:  if they boat top eights there, of course.  Some of these clubs will be decimated by trials, which nowadays tend to lead to under-23 small-boat crews being formed and required to train together during the summer term.  It’s not obvious that the payoff in terms of international results fully makes up for the turbulence this causes in the university squads.

But then maybe CUWBC will have a go at BUCS:  after beating new entries Oxford by 26 seconds they must be confident for the Henley Boat Races.  The time-gap doesn’t necessarily mean much, but 21st was Oxford’s worst result since 2001.  Only one other Oxbridge crew raced, which demonstrated that Blondie are about a minute slower than the Cambridge Blue Boat over 7km but makes other punditry a bit difficult.

What was your Head experience like – there must have been dramas aplenty going on in the crews we saw swan so serenely down the Tideway.  Looking ahead, who will ditch the handbrakes and take their fastest four/pair/quad/double out for the summer?  Who’s going to be brave and go for it in elite eights at Henley Women’s and Henley Royal?  A lot can change between March and June, but at the very least it promises to be an interesting year.

Rachel Quarrell.

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7 Responses to “Women’s Head wrap-up”

  1. Hannah said

    Hi Rachel, I am the afore mentioned London rowing club cox, I’m also a fully paid up member of TRC, and have been racing with their women on and off since 2010.

    When coxes are in short supply and coxless boats more and more common, certainly at a lightweight centre like LRC, what’s the harm in pooling resources?

    I cox men and London and women at Thames, that’s my simple rule, and I’m certain it’s taught me a great deal.

    • Not meant to be a derogatory remark at all Hannah – take it at face value. Some of us are old enough to remember when the only women let into LRC were “guests” for off-water action… As a former LRC female cox (once they had opened the doors a tiny bit but long before they sanctioned actual oarswomen), who has steered both men’s and women’s crews, I heartily approve of women at both clubs in all roles, and of coxes clubhopping to steer whoever needs them. RQ.

      • Hannah said

        Thanks Rachel, I should probably also have said thanks for the great write up! Coxing two clubs isn’t without it’s politics, but proves very rewarding. Women are slowly but surely increasing their presence at LRC. At last!

  2. Ah, ‘Handbrake’ that well know alternate name for a ‘Coxswain’.
    So far as anyone in Marlow can remember that was the first Borlase entry in WeHorr. Care to estimate the new entry ‘handicap’?

    • Hannah said

      If you look at results from Reading Uni head, you’ll be able to see margins for Osiris and Reading/Brookes/Thames. Osiris were new starters, the other three were not. Perhaps that will help?

      • James said

        Perhaps Oxford’s worst placing since 2001 since it was their lowest starting point since forever? They didn’t enter WeHORR last year because it was a week before the boat race. The worst starting position they’ve had since 2001 is 10th. Some 191 other boats in front of them this year. That’s maybe worth a mention, RQ.

  3. Jane said

    Having rowed with Belvoir for the last four years (but not sadly this year, as I’m now back in NZ), I can tell you that it wouldn’t even have occurred to them that it being an Olympic year will have changed the nature of the crews entered – being a bit out of the UK rowing loop, we always just turned up and rowed our hardest (in borrowed boats of variable quality, and usually having only trained a couple of times before in that exact crew). I was actually pretty impressed with their 2nd boat this year too – to come 35th (4th overseas), comprising a mixture of novices and hastily-converted scullers, with a cox who’s never been on tideway before, is not a bad result!

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