Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Boustead Cup, 2012: London RC Takes Top Honors in Traditional Clash with Thames

The Boustead Cup (Photo: © Iain Weir)
The 2012 Boustead Cup race between London Rowing Club and Thames Rowing Club took place on Saturday, 18 February on the Championship Course in London (from Chiswick to Putney). The race, which mirrors the Boat Race in terms of its duration and head-to-head nature, is one of the yearly fixtures on the Tideway. The following is a race report by RR London Correspondent, Theo Bakker, who followed the races from the launch. The photographs are courtesy of Iain Weir.

From RowingRelated London Correspondent Theo Bakker:

For London Rowing Club, the Boustead Cup of 2012 was all about the “pride of the badge,” and, “putting the club on show,” according to coach Phil Bourguignon. His pre-race talk summed up the day completely, and emphasised the traditional competitiveness between the two clubs undertaking the race–Thames and London. He emphasised to the crews the importance of getting the bow-ball in front off the start and how the race “[would be a] battle of wits and mental toughness.” The extremely competitive nature of the race, which has been a tradition between the two clubs since 1947, was underscored by Bourguignon’s attitude as the race approached.

Bourguignon addresses the LRC rowers (Photo: © Iain Weir)
First to go down the course from Chiswick to Putney were the third eights. According to the London Rowing Club cox, Tim Jackson, the crew raced in a “mature manner.” They stuck to the plan and settled in what turned out to be a “beautiful rhythm.” Prior to the race, I spoke to coach Mark Ruscoe during a training session with this crew. Ruscoe said that the basic club programme consists of ten sessions a week, most of which are mostly on the water, but this is affected by varying work responsibilities, so the training schedule is not rigid. Despite this, London showed its depth, pushing through and winning the race comfortably.

Opening stretch, Chiswick to Barnes (Photo: © Iain Weir)
The second eights race was a much closer one, neck and neck all the way to Hammersmith, until the London Rowing Club crew pushed on through and won the race, and it was two for two for London.

Thames RC First VIII (Photo: © Iain Weir)
Last to go down the course were, of course, the first eights. The London Rowing Club plan was to absorb the Middlesex advantage that Thames had off the start, and LRC delivered the relentless rhythm needed to ensure this plan worked. Both crews stormed out the starting blocks at rates in the high forties, each wanting to get the lead straight away and maintain it all the way through the race. Thames had the early lead, due to the bend in their favour, but the umpire repeatedly warned the Thames cox to move over to the Middlesex station–in fact, the umpire started making these calls quite early, halfway between Chiswick Bridge and Barnes Bridge. Then, under Barnes Bridge, the umpire had had enough and disqualified Thames, much to the disgust of the Thames cox. The five seat of the Thames crew, to cap off this disastrous disqualification, caught a monster of a crab, captured on film by Ian Weir.

TRC called for steering under Barnes Bridge (Photo: © Iain Weir)
After the race, I spoke with Hannah Watkins (the Thames RC cox), who expressed that she felt that the umpire should have given her more time to react to his calls and that, as the race only stopped at Barnes Bridge, it could easily have been re-started. She felt that the decision was a harsh one and argued that the race being abandoned was not at all beneficial to either crew. In any case, Bourguignon of London Rowing Club, clearly delighted, was eager to start the celebrations, but didn’t dare walk into the opposing club where, later on, LRC were to receive the 2012 Boustead Cup.

-Theo Bakker

All images copyright Iain Weir. See more of Iain's photography (and look for more race photos as the 2012 season kicks into full swing) at www.rowingphotography.co.uk, and his personal website, www.iainweir.info.

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