2012 Wingfield Sculls: A Truly Tough Trial by the Thames

Photograph: Tim Koch

To add to Tim Koch’s short report on the 2012 Wingfield Sculls – British Amateur Sculling Championship and Championship of the Thames on HTBS on Sunday, 4 November, here is a longer, more detailed report about the races by Oliver Wade Hall-Craggs, Hon. Secretary of the Wingfield Sculls. O.W. Hall-Craggs, winner of the Wingfields in 1993, writes.

With the withdrawal of Adam Freeman-Pask, who was ill after the Armada cup, and Mahe Drysdale, who was struck down with gastroenteritis on his return from Sri Lanka where he was promoting rowing, Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School) had a row over. The umpire, Sophie Hosking, asked all the competitors if they could switch the races around to give the women the faster water and wider river to accommodate them, land water and spring tides combined for a slow turn of the tide. She also warned them of the very obvious signs of the Olympic legacy with several junior crews out on the water.

Alan Campbell was unopposed in the men’s race, and sculled over to win the trophy. Photograph: Robert Treharne Jones

Alan Campbell set off at a great rate on his own despite some bumpy water on the start line, he was still at 40 at the boats and passed London RC still at 39, by the Black Buoy he smoothed out and reduced his rate to 34. After the Mile post, he dropped his rate and paddled over to claim the title Champion of the Thames for the fourth time, at 24.0. Here are his times at different stations: Mile Post 4.40; Hammersmith Bridge 8,47; (Chriswick Steps no time); Barnes Bridge 19.46; and Finish 24.00.

The morning sunshine gave way to hailstorms and a striking rainbow but that did not improve the water for the women, the spring tide against the wind and land water made for very uncomfortable water along the Putney reach. The new champion today was the most consistent performer in a wide variety of conditions, a champion of all the Thames could throw at her. None of the scullers got off at a very high rate, but Debbie Flood was most determined and got clear. Jess Eddie went for shelter under the Fulham wall and never recovered from that decision, whilst Imogen Walsh and Beth Rodford battled it out level all at 31 except Rodford at 27 along the boats. At the Black Buoy, Flood set off to join Eddie under Fulham and Rodford just got through Walsh.

Beth Rodford won the women’s race after overhauling Debbie Flood, the early leader. Photograph: Robert Treharne Jones

All the scullers were cheered on vigorously at Barn Elms by their juniors, Rodford at 25 was half a length up on Walsh at 29 while Flood led and Eddie began to come back into the stream. It was calm at the Mile post which Flood passed first. Rodford and Walsh were still very close but line astern. Rodford steered better past Harrods and closed on Flood so at Hammersmith Bridge Flood’s lead was much reduced but Walsh was still in touch. Conditions turned considerably worse after St Pauls which had favoured Flood earlier but as all the scullers tucked into the Surrey shore, Rodford drew level with Flood at the Ship, then led along the Eyot where Flood maintained contact. At Chiswick pier the water flattened out again and Rodford began to draw away at 26 to Flood’s 28 and Walsh’s 29. Both Rodford and Flood tried to hit the PLA’s navigation buoys at the crossover and after Barnes Bridge where once again the water picked up nastily. Rodford maintained her steady rate and Flood dropped back, Rodford winning at 23.32. Several of the scullers raced with poppies on their all-in-ones. The 2012 race will not be one they forget in a hurry. All of the scullers deserve credit for finishing a truly tough trial by the Thames.

The Wingfield Family Society continues to support the championships and were represented by Clare Morton, Henry Wingfield’s closest living relative. The silver sculls were presented by two of the committee’s Olympic Champions, Alan received the silver sculls and date bar for his medal from Sophie Hosking (Olympic champion in LW2x) and Beth Rodford received her silver sculls and medal from Mahe Drysdale (Olympic champion in M1x). The secretary thanked all the competitors and hoped those unable to race will return, and thanked Tideway Scullers School and London RC for their hospitality and above all Max for services beyond the call of duty flagging the markers recovering from a severe crash following Alan to return and flag all the female scullers.

Here are the women’s times at five stations: Mile Post, Hammersmith Bridge, Chiswick Steps, Barnes Bridge and the Finish.

Beth Rodford (Gloucester RC): 5.08; 8.51; 14.18; 19.15; 23.32
Debbie Flood (LC): 5.01; 8.49; 14.24; 19.22; 23.43
Imogen Walsh (LRC): 5.10; 8.54; 14.35; 19.33; 24.02
Jess Eddie (ULWBC): 5.16; 9.16; – ; – ; 25.30

Umpire Sophie Hosking (2008 and 2009 Champion)
Aligner Phil Rowley (TSS)

Record times Women
Mile post: 4.44 A Watkins, 2011
Hammersmith: 8.29 A. Watkins, 2011
Chriswick Steps: 13.30 A. Watkins, 2011
Barnes Bridge: 18.11 A. Watkins, 2011
Finish: 21.53 A. Watkins, 2011

Record times Men
Mile post: 4.12 M.W. Wells, 2005
Hammersmith Bridge: 7.32 M.W. Wells, 2005
Chriswick Steps: 12.06 A. Freeman-Pask, 2011
Barnes Bridge: 16.45 A. Freeman-Pask, 2011
Finish: 19.58 A. Freeman-Pask, 2011

HTBS would like to thank O.W. Hall-Craggs for this brilliant report and Robert Treharne Jones for allowing us to post his photographs.

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