Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tideway News: 2011 Head of the River Race Report

Putney Embankment - Finish of the HoRR (Photo: B. Kitch)
Last Saturday, the Eights Head of the River Race (HoRR) took place on the Thames, making use of the same course as the Boat Race, albeit in reverse (from Mortlake to Putney). There was quite a showdown between last year's winner Molesey Boat Club, home to one of the biggest names in British Rowing, Andrew Triggs-Hodge. Leander started in second position, based on last year's results, and managed to reclaim the title despite two last-minute changes to their lineup due to injury/illness -- Tom Broadway was replaced by Ben Duggan (of Brown University, and bronze medalist at the 2009 U23 World Championships representing Great Britain), and club captain Rick Egington was replaced by Simon Hislop, fresh from his victory in this year's Boat Race as stroke of the Oxford Blue Boat. While Leander may have lost some horsepower, they certainly had plenty of experience, with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Pete Reed in the 5 seat, and Beijing silver medalists in the VIII Matt Langridge in the 7 seat and Alex Partridge in the 3 seat. The boat was coxed by National Team member Phelan Hill, who also coxed the Leander women to victory two weeks ago in the WeHoRR.

The victory for Leander constitutes a first in the history of the Head Races on the Thames, as no club has ever won the Fours Head (November), the Women's Head (March) and the Eights Head (April) all in the same season before, according to the Leander website. Molesey had a strong performance, as they missed first place by just over three seconds, crossing the line in 16:54.21 to Leander's 16:50.75, and also took tenth place with their second crew, Molesey II, ahead of Leander's second heavyweight boat (though the Leander Lightweight VIII placed fourth overall, in a time of 17:03.77). This marks the first time that Molesey has had two crews finish in the top ten, according to the MBC website.

A strong performance from London RC's first VIII successfully defended the Vernon Trophy, placing 8th overall with a lineup that featured five club oarsmen (with three internationals). The Vernon Trophy goes to the fastest club on the Tideway (clubs within London), and LRC I can be proud of their effort in a very competitive field. A nice write-up of this year's race, as well as some historical notes on the event, can be found on Göran R. Buckhorn's blog, Hear the Boat Sing.

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