Head of the River Race 2016
Christchurch Rowing Club sent a crew to the Head of the River Race this year.
The Head Of The River Race is in its 90th year and has grown to be the largest of its kind outside of the USA, with this year’s event having 360 boats (3240 competitors).
The race is run over the “Championship Course” from Mortlake to Putney (the “Boat Race” course in reverse) a distance of 4.5 Miles (nearly 7 Km) on top of a falling tide.
The course is renowned as challenging in terms of water conditions and the steering demands on coxswains for whom even a small departure from the racing line can add valuable seconds to the crew’s time.
The crew of Sean Cooney (bow), George Robinson, Jack Gaston, Tom Mahy, Jake Hooper, Isaac Gaston, Marcus Lewis, Kit Mersey (Stroke) and Sam Erwin (Cox) were all in the event for their first time and were drawn outside of the seeded positions (the club not having entered for a number of years) at 214 and so not in the best of the tide.
That said, it allowed them to watch the seeded crews, stacked with senior international oarsmen (including our own Matt Aldridge), from their marshalling position.
In uncomfortable rather than difficult conditions, the course record of 16:37 looked fairly safe with the crew looking for a sub-20 minute time across the course.
Sam Erwin, having spent a week preparing for his steering with videos, course maps, pictures and valuable (and much appreciated) input from Stan Livy a former captain of Tideway Scullers School steered an excellent course allowing his crew to focus on their task of getting the boat down the course as quickly as they could.
After a strong row, where the guys caught a number of other boats without getting caught themselves, the final time was 20:00.86 marginally outside of their target but, importantly, finishing 154th, gaining the club a likely seeded position for next year’s race.
Despite a little disappointment in not hitting their time target, the finishing position was well ahead of expectation and the guys should be justifiably proud of their achievement, this being their first time at the event.