Two Heads Are Better Than One

The 2021 Fours Head took place on 13 November with 410 crews racing. It was the first outing for this flag bearing the event’s new logo. The Veteran Fours Head was held on the following day and attracted 247 entries. Picture: @richardphelpsie

24 November 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch likes looking back into the past, so he waited for over ten days before posting his Fours Head Picture Diary.

A head race for fours over the Thames Tideway Championship Course can trace its origins back to 1955 when it was known as “The Tradesmen’s Rowing Clubs’ Association Head of the River Fours”. In 1962, the race became known simply as “The Head of the River Fours”. When local brewers Fuller Smith and Turner began their sponsorship of the race in 1979, it became the “Fuller’s Head of the River Fours”. In 2019, Fullers ended 350 years of family ownership when it gave into a “fabulous offer” from the Japanese Asahi company. Sponsorship seems to have ended with this change and the event was renamed “The Fours Head” in 2020 in recognition of the fact that this was the informal name that most people used. At the same time, it adopted a new logo designed by Annabel Eyres and it dropped the Fullers colours of red, green and gold and adopted the palette of light blue, white and yellow. A more detailed history is on the Fours Head website


Leander boated thirteen crews from Fulham Reach Boat Club (FRBC). Here, some boys in cerise seem to be contemplating joining FRBC’s excellent Adult Learn To Row Course. You can always learn something new.
John Collins takes the sculls down for his Leander B crew.
Leander J, entered in Open Championship 4-, indulging in a stretching session, one perhaps inspired by the statue on the left.
On the FRBC ramp, Leander G, who ultimately won Women’s Championship 4+.
Leander K were the eventual winners of Women’s Championship 4-.
The boat that proved to be the fastest men’s entry by eight-seconds, Leander B, winners of Open Championship 4x.

Going to the start

Around Hammersmith Bend.
Twickenham A, entered in Women’s Club 4x, passing Harrods.
Imperial College London D, Women’s Academic 4+, passing under Hammersmith Bridge.


The Leeds/Tideway Scullers Women’s Championship 4x crew pull away from Chiswick Bridge. They came second in their category and were the second fastest women’s crew overall. Picture: @FoursHead


The first four boats to approach the finish at Putney arrived in their 1, 2, 3, 4 start order, though eventually 1 (Leander B) was placed first overall, 2 (Tideway Scullers I) was second, 3 (Leander C) was sixth and 4 (Leander H) was third.
The fastest boat of the day and winner of Open Championship 4x, Leander B, recorded a time of 17.49.8. From bow to stroke they were Harry Leask, John Collins, Tom Barras and Jack Burns.
Leander D, winners of Open Championship 4- in a time of 18.21.1 and fourth overall.
Oxford Brookes A, winners of Open Championship 4+ in a time of 18.46.6 and thirteenth overall.
Leander E, the fastest women’s crew and winners of Women’s Championship 4x in a time of 19.33.8. From bow to stroke, Natasha Harris-White, Georgie Brayshaw, Imogen Magner and Lola Anderson were beaten by only 35 men’s crews.
The view from Putney Embankment forty minutes into the race.
Crews passing Fulham Wall in both directions.
Looking down Fulham Reach with an hour gone.
Passing the ongoing works at Fulham Football Ground.
On Putney Embankment, the race is over for this Lea crew.
These Cambridge women are done.


With 60% of the race done, St Edwards School A (Open School/Junior 4+) passes under Hammersmith Bridge.
Crew 98, Windsor Boys School C, return under Hammersmith Bridge while Crew 236, Dulwich College B (left) chase Crew 235, Eton College B (right).
Looking down from Hammersmith Bridge on Imperial College London B, eventual winners of Women’s Academic 4- in a time of 20.47.9.
Southampton University E racing in the Women’s Academic 4x event.
In the foreground is Sudbury A racing in Women’s Club 4x. In the background, crews pass the pier that seems variously known as “Hammersmith”, “Hope” or “Dove”.
The race pictured from the roof terrace of Auriol Kensington RC an hour-and-three-quarters after the start.
Passing St Paul’s School on the long Hammersmith Bend.
A view from the Furnivall SC pontoon.
The Fours Head Chief Umpire and HTBS contributor, Daniel Walker (in red), follows the last boats down the course.

The Vets

The Veteran (Masters) Fours Head took place the day after the Fours Head. I was engaged in driving a marshall’s launch and so could only grab this picture of the fastest crew of the day, the Blue Star Club (Newcastle University alumni), winners of the A4x event in a time of 19.26.6.
Ben Rodford’s splendid picture of the bow of Abingdon’s F4x. Ben’s Veteran Fours Head pictures are here and his photos from the Fours Head are here.

Full results for the Fours Head and the Veteran Fours Head are on their respective websites.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.