Source: Chloe Juyon

Women’s Eights Head of the River Race

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On Saturday 5th March at 12.45pm, the 76th Women’s Head will take place from Mortlake to Putney.


Photo by Chloe Juyon

Entries this year have flooded in, leading to the maximum number of entries with just under 24 hours to go to the deadline. Even after entries had closed, there were a considerable number of crews contacting the committee, keen to race.

This reflects the continued growth of women’s club and university rowing, even in the absence of the GB Olympic squad rowers. If this trend continues, the committee will have to explore options to increase the field size further.

This year there are some amendments to the Pennants, with the merging of the Intermediate catergories and introduction of prizes for Medium and Small-sized Clubs, the latter of which is sponsored by Rowperfect UK with the winner receiving a Coxmate GPS. These changes have been made in light of the upcoming British Rowing competition review, and are aimed at supporting efforts to create more competitive racing throughout the field.

In addition to these changes, 2016 sees the introduction of Pennants for placing 2nd and 3rd as it was noted that in many years these crews do not always receive any recognition despite being the 2nd and 3rd fastest women’s crews in the country!

With the Rio Olympics looming, the GB Squad composite is notably absent, so the race will be lead off by Imperial College, who finished third last year, closely followed by last year’s University Pennant winners, Cambridge University, who will be aiming to defend their title.

The Elite category includes a GB development crew, as a composite between Leander, Tees and Reading. Starting 51st, at the head of the new entries, they will be hoping to challenge for the overall title.

After a relatively small entry in 2015, this year’s race sees eleven crews in the Senior Category, with Thames and Molesey and Newcastle University starting in the top 10 with their ‘A’ crews.

BUCS Head results suggest that University of London (starting fourth) will be a strong challenger to Cambridge, with Edinburgh (13th) also in contention.

Last year’s winning Masters crew, from Upper Thames (starting 34th) will see competition from a Thames RC Masters A crew (starting 60th), including four members of their crew that took the Head Pennant in 2012, the last time the Pennant was won by a non-GB squad crew. Upper Thames will have the advantage of the Masters Handicap, but will it be enough?

In the School/Junior pennant, Headington School, starting tenth, will be wanting to defend their four year winning streak. Their recent success seems to suggest that it will be hard for anyone to get close to them, but on the Tideway, an upset is always possible.

Several clubs are represented in the draw for the first time this year: Fulham Reach, Norwich High School, Talkin Tarn and Tyne United. The committee hope that these will be the first of many entries for them, and take the opportunity to wish them a good race.

There will once again be a Victory Ceremony held after racing on Putney Embankment outside Thames Rowing Club (scheduled start time 5pm). The provisional results will be published online whilst the race is under way. This received positive reviews last year, and increased the enjoyment of many spectators.

Any times will still be subject to review after racing by the Chief Timekeeper and Chief Umpire.

For more information on on the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race visit their website.

This is a brilliant event that we found out about by chance through reading this excellent blog from Fair Play (which gives a personal view of the race).  We would like to thank WEHoRR for the above release and thanks also to Bristol Ariel Rowing Club, who got in touch to tell us about the race, and provided us with photos which are by Chloe Juyon.