The culmination of the Head racing season was upon us. Men’s Head of the River is the highest participation rowing event in the UK and a chance to rank every boat club in the country from 1-ICSMBC. We aimed to do some big things and turn some heads because of our performance and not just because of our pretty chequered leggings. 6 eights raced for ICBC on that day and what a day it turned out to be.
The student men’s 1st eight set off 10th. This eight was going out to put out a big statement on our home water. After winning BUCS gold in the championship eight and winning Brugge boat race by 42 seconds, it was obvious that we weren’t going too badly. The same crew of Ella Taylor, Myles Holbrough, Toby Heaton, Ben Thomas, Ollie Hines, Tristan Vouilloz, Jimi Redhead, Paul Jones and Tim Richards raced again here. After a motivational speech from Stu, we were ready to go and do a number on some of the tourists who come to the Tideway for a day trip. We set off in a strong rhythm and caught up with Tideway Scullers by the island and then played cat and mouse with them all the way home. The crew placed the highest that an Imperial College student crew has ever placed, coming 5th and becoming eligible for the coveted ICBC colours blazers in the process. We didn’t even need to make a montage or release a press article blowing our own trumpets to achieve this! Who would have thought? Hopefully UL will learn where the finish line is next year, then they'll only have 7 seconds to find on us. Shame that Brookes stole our thunder by winning the Headship as a student crew…
[Tim Richards somehow got hold of the results before the race finished. There can’t be any other explanation for him smiling all the way down the course]
The non-students set off directly behind the students and chased them to Barnes. After missing out on the Brugge boat race, the non-students were not quite as polished and race ready as the students, coming 19th. An anonymous crew member was overheard claiming that Seb de Trafford was in fact still a student and was sabotaging the non-students’ season as a way of proving his allegiance to the bloody students. Seb denied to comment. Full credit has to go to Stu, who managed to refrain from calling the RNLI to start a search party for the non-students after there was such a sizeable gap between them and the students ahead.
The next crew was the traditional ‘wild card’ mix of World Champions who are past their prime, alumni and ringers. This was definitely our least prepared crew, only having had a couple of outings before the race due to work restrictions and just generally being a bit wet. Out of nowhere, this crew pulled a 31st place finish out of the bag. Probably the surprise result of the day. Who knows where they would have placed if Dan Richie could learn how to use a phone (and remember how to row).
[Wild card eight on their way to 31st]
Our 2nd (nearly) student eight managed to get some very pretty pictures of them racing down the course, despite Dent’s traditional HORR Mohawk haircut. Rob asked me if I could mention his telemetry of the race because he was so proud of it, but instead I'll just say that he bit off more than he could chew in celebrating his result. Andy Halls came off the water slightly confused as to why Winnie couldn’t tap down and get his hands away. Dent was sure that it had something to do with Winnie staring at the back of young Andy’s head for the whole race but this cannot be confirmed, much like Ed’s sexuality. The boys came home in 56th.
Cyril’s intermediate men set another big marker down this weekend, coming 88th and not too far off the 2nd eight. Their time put them ahead of a few universities first eights. This shows how well this intermediate squad is doing this year and I’m sure a few of them will be making the transition to the senior squad next season. Two of them already have GB stash for God’s sake.
[Intermediate men taking some scalps]
The novice men stormed down the course in their first Tideway race, placing 242nd and 16th in their novice category, proving their worth. No doubt this race will have given them a taste of what rowing is all about and hopefully we’ll be seeing them doing this historic race for many years to come.
Not bad is it.