The Head of the River Fours from Mortlake to Putney, founded in 1955 and sponsored by local brewers, Fullers, took place on Saturday, 23 November. Tim Koch was on the towpath.
The Fours Head reached maximum numbers in a little over two weeks and there were cerise faces at Leander when the club failed to get its entries in on time. The club won four pennants in 2018, including the two fastest men’s and the fastest women’s crew. Thus, in his pre-race preview on the British Rowing website, Martin Gough wrote:
(The) overall headship looks likely to be a battle between the Great Britain quad that won the world Under-23 title in Florida last summer and a crew from the Swiss Rowing Federation, which includes three senior internationals.
The Swiss crew finished a surprise fifth last year and rumour has it they have spent a fortnight training together, while the GB quad – racing as composite of four clubs – planned to get together at Tideway Scullers School on Friday for the first time since winning gold in Sarasota in July.
‘We decided in the summer to do Fours Head,’ said the quad’s coach Kieran Clark. ‘Some of the reason behind it was that it was our only chance to race the GB senior internationals (from Leander) but it’s turned out like this’.
The Boat Race hopefuls in the top Isis (Oxford) and Goldie (Cambridge) coxed fours had an interesting Fours Head. Goldie ‘A’ (Crew 33) recorded 18.39.6 and were provisional winners of 4+ Academic Band 1. Isis ‘A’ (Crew 32) were only two-seconds slower and clocked 18:41.7. These were remarkable times for coxed fours, the slowest of the four person boats, putting Goldie in 5th place overall and Isis in 8th. However, the final results saw Goldie ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ getting a five-second penalty for being late to Chiswick Bridge. These were applied to several Division 1 and 2 crews which were not above Chiswick Bridge by 12.35, ten minutes before the start. Thus, Isis were declared the winners of 4+ Academic Band 1 and they went to 7th place overall while Goldie, now with a time of 18:44.6, went down to 9th overall and second to Isis in the top student coxed fours race. Whatever procedures there were with times, it all bodes well for an exciting Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race on 29 March.
Martin Gough also wrote in his preview that Kieran Clark, the head coach at Tideway Scullers:
(Feels) the women’s quads will be one of the most competitive events. A Tideway Scullers crew boasting two U23 internationals plus two Pairs Head winners will take on a quad comprising three of the GB world U23 champion quad, rowing as Molesey BC/Edinburgh University. There is a strong-looking Swiss entry in this event too.