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Benedict Tufnell

A Tideway Trilogy

by Benedict Tufnell

The famed Tideway course in London, running over 4 and a quarter miles between Putney and Mortlake, played host to over 7,000 athletes from over 1,000 crews this weekend racing in a historic trilogy of head races.

The Women’s Head of the River Race, the Head of the River Race and the School’s head of the River Race are entirely separate entities that by chance took place over three consecutive days on the same course from Saturday to Monday.

The weekend opened with the Women’s Head, where a top Leander eight containing many senior internationals were favourites of the 319 crews entered.

True to form, Leander finished almost sixteen seconds ahead of second placed Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club, who will be contesting the Boat Race against Oxford on the same course in two week’s time.

Leander triumph in the Women’s Head of the River Photo: ©Robert Treharne Jones

The men followed suit on Sunday, with racing set to be a showdown between Leander, again containing many senior international squad members, and the 2016 defending champions Oxford Brookes University. (The 2017 race was abandoned due to conditions).

Ultimately it proved a tighter contest than predicted.

Following racing and much deliberation with the timing team the Head of the River Race Chairman, Ben Helm stated that “after reviewing the camera recording, the conclusion was that the crews could not be separated with 100% confidence and a dead heat was declared.”

Unable to separate the crews even with the aid of start and finish line cameras, honours were shared between the Leander and Brookes crews. It is yet another remarkable result for the university program which has shown itself to be consistently strong for the past three years.

The School’s Head of the River Race today was the final chapter in the proceedings with 356 crews racing in a mixture of eights, fours and quads for the coveted pink pennants.

There was no confusion as to the overall winner here, with the St. Paul’s School boys providing a commanding performance in the Boy’s Championship Eights to win by nearly 20 seconds on their home water over second placed Shiplake.

Triumphant St. Pauls School in Boy’s Champ Eights. Photo: ©All Mark One Media

The St.Pauls squad have demonstrated their prowess on the tideway throughout the season with impressive wins at the fours head and a historic overall win by Calvin Tarczy in the Scullers Head – the first ever by a Junior.

It was a reversal of 2017’s results in the girls championship eights event, with Henley Rowing Club avenging their loss to Headington last year by winning with a narrow margin of less than two seconds over second placed Headington today.

The weekend’s racing all but marks the end of the winter season and head racing for 2018 in the UK as crew’s now hone themselves for side by side racing in the Spring.

Title photo: ©Robert Treharne Jones

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