Gender Non-Binary: The 2019 Head of the River Race
2 April 2019
By Tim Koch
Tim Koch sees 3000 men and women take to the Tideway.
It is commonly said that The sun always shines on the righteous, but the rest of this expression derived from Matthew’s Gospel, and on the ungodly too, is less well-known and used. In rowing terms in recent years, it could be said that The sun always shines on the Women’s Eights Head – but not on the Men’s. However, 2019 saw a reversal of this when the event that currently seems to be promoting the horrible acronym ‘Wee-hore’ (WEHoRR) had to cancel their race scheduled for 16 March due to forecast bad weather, while the HoRR held on 30 March enjoyed ‘shirtsleeves’ temperatures and fine racing conditions.
Another feature of recent men’s and women’s eights heads has been the fact that the former has been undersubscribed, while the latter has had to turn entries away. Thus, following the cancellation of the WEHoRR, the HoRR committee offered their spare places to the women’s race. The women’s committee responded enthusiastically and invited the 100 highest ranked crews from their event to take part. However, they noted:
(This) is not a replacement for the original (WEHoRR) 2019 race and crews will race solely for time within the HORR. All rules, safety and marshalling instructions will be controlled by the HORR. No WEHoRR Pennants will be awarded based on these results, however athletes will be awarded PRI according to their finishing position… For clarity, as this is not a replacement race, the start order for the top 50 crews in the 2020 Women’s Head will be based on the finishing positions from the 2018 race.
While many of the highest level women’s crews, in particular, could not take up this offer due to training or other commitments, 23 were able to race.