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Benedict Tufnell

Young-Gun Calvin Tarczy Storms to Historic Win, Sparking Controversy

by Benedict Tufnell

The Scullers Head of the River Race, held annually over the Boat Race Championship Course, is the UK’s largest single sculling race. Attracting talent from both the UK and overseas, winners are generally of high calibre, international pedigree. Olympic gold medallists Mahe Drysdale, Mark Hunter and GB Olympic bronze sculler Alan Campbell have all hoisted the winner’s trophy.  It was to much surprise then – and social media chatter – that St. Paul’s School under 18 junior, Calvin Tarczy, recorded the fastest time of the day on Saturday to take the top prize and finish first overall.

Already a junior world champion in the JM4- last summer, Tarczy, coached by St. Paul’s coach Bobby Thatcher, is clearly a formidable young talent.

His result at Saturday’s scullers head however proved almost too good for some to accept and it was announced shortly after the race that an overall winner would not be named – only category wins would be awarded.

The teenager’s name will now be engraved on the trophy, alongside the likes of Drysdale and Campbell.

The reasoning, according to organisers, was that the flow of the tide had unfairly helped scullers who started later in the division. It was a highly controversial decision that meant Tarzcy left the awards presentation on Saturday afternoon without the overall trophy being awarded.

Many took to twitter to debate the choice, including previous winner and Olympic gold medallist Mark Hunter who said it was the wrong decision. 

Then 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon, it was announced via the scullers head twitter feed that the organisers had reversed their decision and the overall win would be awarded. The teenager’s name will now be engraved on the trophy, alongside the likes of Drysdale and Campbell.

Tweet from the scullers head announcing the reversal of their initial decision on Saturday.

Speaking to coach Bobby Thatcher afterwards, he explained that Tarczy had gone into the race with a score to settle against opponent Lawrence Joss of Tideway Scullers, who had beaten him earlier in the season at GB trials. “He [Tarzcy] took a gamble on Saturday, he went out hard, rating about 31 over the course. He ended up blowing the competition out of the water” said Thatcher.

Despite his clear proficiency in the single, Thatcher says that Tarczy’s focus remains on sweep rowing for now and he plans to go to Harvard University next year to row. “We have a good pattern of guys sweeping and they want to keep it that way” says Thatcher.  “Calvin has probably done about 3 weeks sculling in total since September.”

“there is a solid group of guys who could all make the worlds squad.”

It is a remarkable feat in what has been a remarkable autumn for St. Paul’s School. Alongside Tarczy’s performance, they also had winners in the under-17 (Oliver Parish) and under-16 (Dominic Valt) categories on Saturday.

In October St. Paul’s also won the Head of The Charles Regatta in Boston USA, setting a new course record – despite Tarzcy having to withdraw the week before due to appendicitis.  St. Pauls also won the Fours head of the river race in November. “We have really good depth in the squad” commented Thatcher “there is a solid group of guys who could all make the worlds squad.”

Photo by Vicky Gillard.

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