Head of the River 2016

The 2016 Head of the River saw Thames men’s squad field the largest entry of the race. A total of seven Thames eights took to the water on a standard Tideway day – some headwind with chop but a nice finishing tail breeze. Tactics, as always, were at a premium to get the best result possible.

The main target of the day was for the 1st 8 to improve on its eighth-place starting position – it was felt top five was the minimum we were expecting, and third would be the best we could attain if we got it 100 per cent right on the build up and executed on the day.

The second priority was the feisty little 2nd 8 moving up and seeing if it could improve on its fifteenth-place starting position. For the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th 8s, there were no pennants to go for. Due to lack of seat racing through illness we had to use the ‘random crew generator’ to select crews, so it was a bit of guess work as to where they might finish though expectations were clumping the crews between 40 and 60.

The 1st and 2nd 8, having had some good pre-Head fixtures, were coming to the boil at the right time and both crews executed the race to the absolute best of their ability. A third-place finish by our rather aging and work-handicapped crew was a superb result; they also retained the Vernon Trophy and secured our highest finish position since 1961.

The 2nd 8 romped home in eleventh place, just behind Tideway Scullers and Molesey II. This was a superb result for this crew, many of whom have come up through the ranks, and shows how well our system is working in developing athletes. Our two 18-year-olds in the stern pair showed mature heads on young bodies and must be very proud of their step on since leaving school.

The 3rds had cox box failure 10 strokes in which is never going to help, but the result is probably about right given where Henley RC finished and the closeness of the racing we had had with them the week before. The 4ths and 5ths had been trading blows in training and it was not a huge surprise when the 5ths finished three seconds ahead of the 4ths. The 6th 8 finished 101st, a very good result for a fairly scratch crew: to have six 8s in the top 100 might have been too much to ask! Next year?

The novices finished third in their category which was frustrating, but shows they have huge potential to win a few pots in the summer season.

Thames 1 – 3rd + Vernon
Thames 2 – 11th
Thames 3 – 42nd
Thames 5 – 57th
Thames 4 – 62nd
Thames 6 – 101st
Thames novices – 206th