2015 Head of the River Race

The Fairbairn Trophy for the crew that goes 'Head
The Fairbairn Trophy for the crew that goes ‘Head’.

James Felt (TRC), press officer of the Head of the River Race, writes in a press release:

The Head of the River Race 2015 will take place on Sunday 29 March at 12.

As it says on the clock tower of St Mary’s Putney at the finish ‘Time and Tide Stay for No Man’.

The clocks go forward as the crews go forth to do battle on a favourable tide, this time the bells will toll on Sunday to start a race, known simply as The Head.

Bragging rights to be known as the Head crew, the fastest in Britain, the Fairbairn Trophy and Head pennant are at stake on this most unpredictable and historic stretch of the Thames, the cradle of the ancient sport.

The Head of the River Race (the Head or HORR) is the largest processional rowing race held annually on the River Thames in London, England, on the 4.25 mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney. The race was rowed for the first time in December 1926, initiated by Steve Fairbairn, the famous rowing coach of the early 20th century.

This year, 345 eights will race the course with the tidal stream but against the clock in a huge pursuit race. Last year, the race was abandoned after the top crews had finished, so we will only know which crew is the official Head after the times have been taken.

What is Black, Pink and Purple, for now?
The top order: the fastest crew last year was Molesey Boat Club, arch rivals of the Pink Palace, or Leander Club, the latter boasting more Olympic medallist ‘Pinks’ in its long history than any other club in the world, who are chasing them at the top of the order, hotly followed by the ‘Purples’ of the University of London (UL), the other main breeding ground of the most successful GB team in sport. In this race, the GB ‘vests’ split up to race in club colours. There will be world and Olympic champions in each.

These crews are followed by crews from other British Rowing Team high performance centres at Oxford Brookes and Durham University and the ancient Tideway Clubs at Putney: London, Thames and Imperial College (a rival to UL), which alone are boating six crews, three of which are in the top 20 starters. These start in the order in which they finished in 2012, giving clearer water than those behind . The ‘Blues’, preparing for the Boat Race, will sit this one out, though Cambridge University’s Lightweight crew will race as ‘Granta’.

Britannia, Rule the Waves
The British Eight are current World Champions. Pretenders from overseas are coming to unseat them at home. Even after the disappointment of last year’s unavoidable abandonment for the crews’ safety, many clubs are making the journey from 7 oversea nations, including rowing powers Germany with 15 crews, France, Poland and Italy and as far afield as Portugal and Hungary. Many of these crews contain medalists from their national teams.

Biggest show on Water
Below the international and elite athletes, the pyramid broadens to include the future Olympians, past stars and aspirants from schools, colleges, Universities and clubs from all around Britain. Each have a prize to compete for in the form of pennants. New pennants are being offered for Intermediate 3 and Novice crews, where both academic and club divisions will earn pennants. While some of the clubs are bringing fewer boats, 37 new crews have entered and the trend reflects the major expansion of the sport after London 2012. Fulham Reach is a new club on the Tideway and makes its debut for the north London supporters deprived of Premiership football. After the Marathon, this is the biggest single mass participation race in the capital.

It takes place on a tidal river with many moods in the famous British spring weather, so safety, both of over 3,000 athletes, some of whom are novice (and many volunteer umpires and marshals), is the prime consideration. It has its dangers and there must be measures to minimize them.

After the top wave, position on the river is alphabetically arranged by status and club crew order this year to keep overtaking to the minimum and the finish order will show the race times and result.

The result is a unique spectacle and a carnival atmosphere along both sides of the river, especially near the clubs and pubs; the more so as those who have finished increase in number over the few hours of the procession. After a drink or so, provisional results will be posted from the race HQ at the Putney Embankment until the final race order and the destination of the Trophy is calculated and announced and posted as soon as possible, after any protests, penalties etc. A new Head of the River will be announced.

The Committee thanks Rocktheboat, Official Supplier to the Head of the River Race. We also thank Rowperfect, Official Sponsor of Intermediate 3 Academic Division.

Starts from under Chiswick Bridge, passes under Barnes Bridge, Hammersmith Bridge and ends at a line just upstream of Putney Bridge, the reverse of the Boat Races

Most conveniently reached by Barnes Bridge, Hammersmith and Putney Bridge Underground stations

Best spectator areas near Hammersmith Bridge and the Putney Embankment where there are plentiful clubs and pubs and food stands

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