The 2022 Wingfields: The Championship Course Lives up to its Name

An incident during the 2022 Women’s Wingfields. Katie Mole inadvertently messes about in boats, Imogen Grant gets Ratty, Georgie Robinson Ranger Badgers both to move.

1 November 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch follows some living history.

The 182nd sculling race for the pair of silver sculls presented in 1830 by Henry C. Wingfield “to be held by the best” took place on the Putney to Mortlake course on 27 October. The event carries the historic titles of “The British Amateur Sculling Championship and The Championship of the Thames.” The day also saw the 16th Women’s Wingfield Sculls, a revival of the Women’s Amateur Rowing Championship, first raced in 1927 and reactivated under the Wingfield banner in 2007.

Sam Meijer, 2019 Champion and the new Wingfield’s Secretary, has written the official race reports and these are gratefully reproduced below. I have taken the liberty of lightly editing them, partly for clarity for those not familiar with the course and partly to fit the HTBS house style. The pictures and the accompanying captions are my own.

Umpire Graeme Mulcahy (standing at the head of the table) gives his pre-race briefing to competitors, steerers and officials in the Members’ Room of London Rowing Club.
Showing off a recent innovation, personalised race zephyrs, the competitors pose with Umpire Graeme Mulcahy and (seated) Ian Wingfield from the Wingfield Family Society.

In the picture above, left to right, the women are Georgie Robinson Ranger, Jade Lindo, Katie Mole, Imogen Grant, Imogen Magner and Becky Wilde. The men are Sebastian Devereux, Matthew Curtis, Jamie Gare and Luke Reiser.

Two Wingfield’s Champions meet up on the Putney Embankment. Rorie Henderson (left) won the Wingfield Sculls in 1990 and Henley’s Diamond Sculls in 1992. In the 1991 World Championships, he was in a double scull with Guy Pooley (right). Pooley won the Wingfield Sculls in 1991 and 1992 and has three Henley victories. He also competed at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and rowed for Cambridge four times, 1988 – 1991. 
The Thames Tideway Championship Course, Putney to Mortlake, is four miles and 374 yards or 6.8 kilometres. Graphic: Pointillist / Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The Women’s Race 

Georgie Robinson Ranger (left), and Imogen Grant (right) await the race briefing outside London Rowing Club. This year, Grant set a new world’s best time for women’s lightweight singles of 7:23.36. She was fourth in the lightweight double in Tokyo.
Clockwise: Becky Wilde, Jade Lindo, Imogen Magner and Katie Mole.

Umpire: Graeme Mulcahy (1976 Wingfield’s Champion).

Aligner: Rich Clarke (2017 Wingfield’s Champion).

Start order, Middlesex to Surrey: Jade Lindo (Twickenham Rowing Club), Imogen Magner (Leander Club), Katie Mole (University of Birmingham Boat Club), Becky Wilde (Leander Club), Imogen Grant (Cambridge University Boat Club), Georgie Robinson Ranger (University of London Boat Club).

After a quick start from the umpire Graeme Mulcahy, Robinson Ranger and Mole shot out to an early lead. All scullers came together into the centre of the river along the line of moored boats at Putney and a leading pack of Magner, Mole and Robinson Ranger developed. 

Left to right (Surrey to Middlesex): Robinson Ranger, Grant, Wide, Mole, Magner. Lindo is in 6th place out of shot on Middlesex.

By the end of Putney Embankment, Mole had a clear water lead over Magner – who was level with Robinson Ranger. Behind them followed Grant, Wilde and Lindo.

Wilde and Mole.

Passing Beverley Brook, the Umpire warned the competitors that a passenger cruiser was approaching downstream in the racing channel. All athletes moved to Middlesex and then back to Surrey but were hit by significant wash from the cruiser. Here, Grant started to close up the gap on the leading pack.

Hitting the wash next to the Fulham Football Club ground.
Grant moves up.

Approaching the Mile Post, all boats were within two lengths, with Robinson Ranger, Grant, Magner and Lindo bow ball for bow ball. The Umpire warned all crews to move to Middlesex as the race was proceeding too close to the Mile Post buoy. 

Grant, Mole and Magner.

Passing the Mile Post, Mole continued to lead but with Grant in hot pursuit. Grant then put in a burst of speed, steered to Middlesex and rowed her bow into the strokeside oar of Mole who had been warned by the Umpire but did not respond in time. 

One minute past the Mile Post, Grant and Mole make contact.

Mole was unable to continue rowing and stopped, causing her to become entangled with Grant, in turn blocking Robinson Ranger. Magner, Lindo and Wilde took advantage of this collision and took three lengths out of the others, before, with a shout of frustration from Grant, the three previous leaders were able to row again. 

The three who had been leading, Grant, Mole and Robinson Ranger, are stopped dead.

Passing the former Harrods Depository, the race had two distinct packs. Magner led Lindo and Wilde and the three were some two lengths up on the close pack of Grant, Mole and Robinson Ranger. 

Passing Harrods and approaching Hammersmith Bridge, Grant, Mole and Robinson Ranger are led by Lindo, Wilde and Magner.

Approaching Hammersmith, Mole pushed Robinson Ranger wide, causing her to drop back into 6th position, and Grant closed the gap to the leading pack to within one length. 

Under Hammersmith Bridge, left to right: Wilde, Grant, Mole, Lindo, Magner, Robinson Ranger. 

Passing Dove Pier, the leading pack were now four abreast and had a one-length lead over Robinson Ranger and Mole. Approaching Chiswick Eyot, Grant took the lead. 

At Dove Pier, left to right: Wilde, Grant, Mole, Lindo, Magner, Robinson Ranger. 

Along the Eyot, a strong headwind started to split the pack, with Robinson Ranger moving up to challenge the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed scullers. 

Approaching Chiswick Eyot, Grant is in the lead – four minutes after having to stop and going into last place. Mole is last, out of shot on Surrey.
Mole never recovered from her clash with Grant and Robinson Ranger.

Passing Chiswick steps, Grant extended her lead and Robinson Ranger continued to close on Magner, Lindo and Wilde – who had been side by side for the previous 2km. 

Approaching Barnes Bridge, Grant still extended her lead and Magner broke free of the following pack with Lindo in 3rd and Robinson Ranger in 4th. 

Choppy water approaching Barnes Bridge.
Through Barnes Bridge, the order was Grant, Magner, Lindo, Robinson Ranger, Wilde and Mole.

Nearing the former Mortlake Brewery, Wilde re-took 4th from Robinson Ranger. Lindo’s right scull hit the green buoy downstream of Chiswick Bridge, but she was able to recover quickly. 

Grant and Magner in the background in first and second places, Wilde in the foreground.
Lindo has buoy trouble.

Approaching the finish, Wilde and Robinson Ranger, spurred on by Lindo’s mistake, put in massive bursts of speed to overhaul Lindo and snatch 3rd and 4th respectively. 

Imogen Grant, winning the 16th Women’s Wingfields. While the earlier clash may have had an effect on the minor placings, Grant was the competitor most disadvantaged by the incident – but she still won. Thus, she was the worthy Women’s Champion. 
Grant a few strokes from crossing the line. Left to right: Wilde, Grant, Magner, Robinson Ranger, Lindo. Mole was out of shot on Surrey.

After the finish, Robinson Ranger appealed the result, stating that her race was impeded by the collision of Grant and Mole. The umpire considered the appeal and judged the collision to be a racing incident that could not be remedied by any action. 

The final finish order was: Imogen Grant (Cambridge University Boat Club) 22.17, Imogen Magner (Leander Club) 22.24, Becky Wilde (Leander Club) 22.29, Georgie Robinson Ranger (University of London Boat Club) 22.31, Jade Lindo (Twickenham Rowing Club) 22.33, Katie Mole (University of Birmingham Boat Club) 22.45.

The Men’s Race

Umpire: Graeme Mulcahy (1976 Wingfield’s Champion).

Aligner: Rich Clarke (2017 Wingfield’s Champion).

Start order, Middlesex to Surrey: Luke Reiser (Twickenham Rowing Club), Jamie Gare (Bath University Boat Club), Matthew Curtis (London Rowing Club), Sebastian Devereux (Leander).

Clockwise: Devereux, Curtis, Gare, Reiser.

Taking place 75 minutes after the Women’s Race, the Men’s Race was between four scullers after Rui Xu (London Rowing Club) and Miles Devereux (Leander Club) withdrew. 

With the tide now several metres higher, the conditions were significantly bumpier than for the women’s event. 

Devereux and Reiser blasted out and led the race to London Rowing Club. Along the line of boats, Devereux broke clear of Reiser, who was a length up on Curtis and Gare. 

Left to right: Devereux, Curtis, Reiser, Gare.
Devereux in the lead.

Approaching Hammersmith, the positions remained unchanged with Devereux extending his margin followed by Reiser, Curtis and then Gare. 

At the Mile Post: Devereux leads, followed by Reiser, Curtis and Gare. 
Approaching Hammersmith, the positions are unchanged.

After Hammersmith Bridge, Gare, on the Middlesex side and trailing Curtis and Reiser by open water, darted across to the Surrey bank. Before Chiswick Eyot, this steering paid off and Gare overtook both Curtis and Reiser to take 2nd spot, some 30 seconds behind Devereux. 

Approaching Chiswick Eyot, Gare, far left, is now in 2nd place – but Devereux has a commanding lead. 

Along Chiswick Eyot, Gare solidified his 2nd place position ahead of Reiser, who had opened a substantial lead on Curtis. 

Gare leads Reiser in Corney Reach.

Past the Bandstand, Reiser retook 2nd from Gare and continued to hold a solid lead over Curtis. 

At Barnes Bridge, it is Devereux 1st, Reiser 2nd, Gare 3rd and Curtis (out of shot) 4th.

Just downstream of Chiswick Bridge and the finish post, Curtis, with an impressive grimace, put in an incredible burst of speed to overhaul Gare and take 3rd place.

Left to right: Gare, Curtis, Reiser, Devereux. Curtis puts in a final burst.

The final positions were Sebastian Devereux (Leander) 21.34, Luke Reiser (Twickenham Rowing Club) 22.02, Matthew Curtis (London Rowing Club) 22.07, Jamie Gare (Bath University Boat Club) 22.08.

Seb Devereux, winner of the 182nd Wingfield Sculls.

Post racing, everyone gathered at the Tideway Scullers Clubhouse for the presentations where Sir David Wootton, Master of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, and three-time Champion, Greg Searle, awarded prizes.

Imogen and Seb with their well-deserved prizes.

Speaking after the event, Sam Meijer, 2019 Champion and the new Wingfields Secretary said: “It is a huge honour to take over the running of the race from Wade Hall-Craggs, who has run the race for 25 years. Today we had two incredibly exciting races, which showed some of the best of British sculling.”

Sam Meijer, looking forward to the next 25 years as Wingfields Secretary.

The Wingfields YouTube Channel has recorded livestream of the women’s race, the men’s race and short interviews with both Imogen and Seb

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