Our top 2 eights made the journey to the historic Tideway stretch of the Thames over the weekend, to compete in the Hammersmith Head on Sunday 6th March. Both crews and coxes made use of a paddle on the course during Saturday evening,but found that the conditions then were totally different to the full flowing river that they had to contend with on Sunday.
The Schools' Head, in two weeks' time, could be won or lost by the cox, so this practice on the course is invaluable. Both Sophie Walker and James Eardley will have gained precious experience as the Hammersmith Head course is run over the first part of the Schools' Head, from Mortlake to Hammersmith Bridge.
Heavy rain greeted our arrival at St Paul’s School, where we were boating (many thanks to them, for their hospitality as ever). This rain would continue right through the race, making the whole experience a bigger and fairly unpleasant challenge.
Abingdon School were racing too; as last year's Schools' Head winners, they were always going to be one of the top School boy crews. As the results would show, this proved to be the case and victory by one second was theirs. However disappointing this may have been, one third of a length over an eleven minute race is not much to make up - and we did win our event IM2 eights!
To put into perspective how fast the country’s top School boy eights are, our boys came sixth from around one hundred crews, beating the top men's eight from Star, who had beaten them by two seconds last week at Trent. They also lost to a huge men's eight from St Petersburg, Russia, by four seconds…
The 2nd eight again performed well - racing in a senior men's event they came ninth from thirty two starters, and were only beaten by School first eights. Schools' Head will be very interesting for this crew: having not raced any other School 2nd’s, we will relish that challenge!
This Head is not one that many Schools favour. Most Thames-based Schools will race at Kingston Head next weekend, whilst we will stay north and pit our wits against the northern heavy weights, Durham University and Agecroft, together with King's School Chester, who raced well at Reading Head recently.
We intend to keep the fine silver trophy that we won as Head winners last year.
1st 8 1/17 IM2 8 11.21
2nd 8 9/32 IM3 8 12.03