Fours Head 2014

Uncharacteristic blue skies and smooth water greeted all on the first day of November for the 59th edition of the Fours Head of the River. Thames Rowing Club had a lot to live up to after the success of the previous year in which the club won no less then four pennants. Where in 2013 was characterised by wins the 2014 version was stifled by near misses.

The women’s intermediate 2 coxed four came agonisingly close to capturing the pennant in their very competitive event losing out by 3.5 seconds at the finish line to the eventual winners from Tideway Scullers. The intermediate times at both Barnes and Hammersmith had them in the lead of their category but once round the Hammersmith corner they were greeted and caught up in thick traffic which even the skillful and experienced hands of cox Hannah Burke could not find a way through. Well done to Cayley Firth, Hannah Roberts, Helena Green, the aforementioned Hannah Burke and in particular Anna Tyndall, who was struck by a car while cycling to work the day before the event, on a very gutsy and determined row.

Clare Harvey, Caroline McPherson, Jordan Cole-Hossain and Lindsay Scott were also caught a little short in the defence of the W.IM1.4- title won last year by TRC, coming in second behind a CUWBC crew. The lightweight quad of Helen van Kempen, Lowenna Coad, Ellie Fielding and Ellie Garratt acquitted themselves well in the W.IM1. 4x placing a very creditable 15th in the largest ladies field encompassing a total entry of 42.

Photo: Mark Ruscoe

Photo: Mark Ruscoe

In another title defence of a pennant won the previous year, Beatrix Sheldrick skillfully weaved her crew mates Katie O’Toole, Sarah Jones and stroke Maddy Foster in TRC’s senior women’s coxless four through the back markers in the womens intermediate quads event to a handy win. A very controlled and classy row saw the unit cruise to a win by over 30 seconds to their nearest competitor. The next big task on this crew's hands is to successfully deal with the proverbial “piss-up” in the Fullers brewery knowing that they carry with them the extinguished dreams of those that fell just short of winning.

On the Men’s side, the Senior 4-, containing two of last years pennant winning crew, had been moving very well until Ant Lester’s back failed with a week to go. Super-sub Kiwi Brad Jowitt jumped in and gave it his all, despite being a funny shade of grey for the later stages of the race. The crew finished 3rd, less than 5 seconds behind Winners, CUBC.

The two Intermediate Men’s crews, IM1 4- and IM1 4+, with just a handful of outings, gave a very good account of themselves. The coxless boat, known as the ‘Gingers’ due to their uniform hair colour, finished a very creditable 2nd, behind UL, out of 31 crews. Their coxed counterparts finished 3rd behind a good Scullers crew and IC. Both very please results for such last minute combinations and low rating.

The Men’s Elite coxed four found the going tough in a very classy event. Dominated by Caversham and Boat Race crews we were never going to feature that highly, finishing 10th out of 16 but being the first club crew home over the likes of Quintin and beating neighbours IC, it was probably a fair reflection of where the guys stand in relation to the next level.

Thames RC Juniors were represented in Junior Men’s quads, Junior Women’s quads and made up 50% of the Thames/Mossbourne Academy composite racing IM1 quads. Despite damage to the rudder from a collision on the way to the start, the composite was the highest placed crew at 35th overall and 7th in their division. The young Junior Women’s crew, made up of two J17’s and two J16’s produced a gutsy performance to come 7th in their division. The Junior Men’s crew came 11th in their division, which made the day’s racing another promising set of results for the Thames Junior Squad. The squad will now move back into small boats in preparation for the Scullers Head and Hampton Small Boats Head at the end of the month.

As always a massive thanks must go to our group of committed and hardworking volunteer coaches who give up a significant amount of time in getting the large contingent from Thames on the water and well prepared for the event.

Hopefully the string of near misses will serve as fuel during the coming dark and damp months leading into the respective Eights Heads in March where the athletes will look to convert strong chances into tangible wins. The amount of success attained in 2015 will be in direct proportion to the work put in over the next couple of months.