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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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Posted in british club scene, head racing, women | 7 Comments »