Heads To The Power of 3

A view from Barnes Bridge of the 2023 Schools Head of the River Race in full flow.

21 March 2023

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch on a busy time on the Thames Tideway.

A week before the eight boats that nowadays make up Boat Race Day take to the water, the same Tideway Championship Course (Mortlake to Putney or Putney to Mortlake, as appropriate) was host to 314 crews in the Schools Head of the River Race on Friday 17 March, 321 crews in the Head of the River Race on Saturday 18 March, and 215 crews in the Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race on Sunday 19 March. For the school and junior race, I was positioned a quarter way along the course at Barnes Bridge, for the young men’s race I was at the finish, and for the senior ladies and gentlemen’s race, I was at the start.

Schools Head of the River Race

The results of the top ten in the Girl’s and Boy’s Championship Eights. All the results are here.
The fastest boat on the day: Shiplake College (16.47.9). However, Radley just retained the Thames Team Trophy for the fastest aggregate time of three boats with 52.43.1s. St Paul’s was second with 52.43.9s.
Crew 30 (Kew House School Boat Club in School 1st 8+) on their way to the finish. They are watched by Crew 315 (Surbiton High School in G Sch/Jun 3rd 8+) on their way to the start.
A battle under Barnes Bridge between Crew 150 (St Edward’s School) and Crew 151 (Hampton School) both in CH J15 8+.
Two more St Edward’s School boats. Crew 162 (G CH 8+) is racing, Crew 3 (Ch 8+) is returning. 
King’s College School, Crew 179 in Sch/Jun 2nd J16 8+, reach Barnes Bridge. The “Tower House” on the right was once home to rowing journalist and historian, Geoffrey Page.
Crew 207 (Monmouth School for Girls) and Crew 209 (Headington School), both in G Sch/Jun 2nd 8+, battle it out through Barnes Bridge.
Reading Blue Coat School, Crew 219, racing in Sch 1st J15 8+.
Racing in G Ch 4x-, Kingston Grammar School, Crew 240.
Latymer Upper School, Crew 301 racing in G Ch J15 8+, in the shadow of Barnes Bridge

The Head of the River Race

The first ten home. The full results are here.
Oxford Brookes A, fastest crew of the day (16.28.4) and winner of the Fairbairn Trophy. Brookes has now won the five HoRRs held since 2016 (though they drew with Leander in 2018). 
Leander A, 2nd place with a time of 16.30.3. Leander has not won the HoRR since 2015.
Oxford Brookes B, 3rd place in 16.38.9.
Thames A (17.16.7), winner of the Club Pennant and the Vernon Trophy. The latter is awarded to the fastest Tideway club.
Molesey A battle through the rain along Putney Embankment. They finished 10th (17.23.8) winning the Page Trophy awarded to the fastest club crew normally rowing on the Thames or its tributaries but not on the Tideway.
Oxford Brookes D, 7th place in 17.17.6, winner of the Bernard Churcher Trophy awarded to university or college crews of any standard.
Crew 37, Newcastle University Boat Club B, alongside London’s boathouse.
City of Bristol Rowing Club B, Crew 61, passing Thames.
Tideway Scullers School B (Crew 96) chasing University of York Boat Club A (Crew 95, winner of the Medium Academic Pennant) along the Putney Embankment.
Further upriver, Nottingham University Boat Club D (Crew 286) and Manchester University Boat Club B (Crew 285) past the new half-way marker, the black and white St Paul’s Post standing in the background.

Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race

While most competitors in the Masters’ Head may not be as fast as they once were, it seems a little unfair to brand it “a slow event.” The results are here.
A history of the event formerly known as the Vets’ Head taken from the official website.
Marshalling for the start above Chiswick Bridge.
Crew 1, Nottingham Rowing Club, approaching the start. They won W Mast AB 8+ in a time of 19.43.92 and were the fastest women’s crew. The fastest man’s crew was Crabtree Mast AB 8+ with a time of 17.40.69.
A view of the race from Chiswick Bridge.  
York City RC, Crew 38, in W Mast EF 8+.
Thames RC Mixed 8+, Crew 45.
Broxbourne RC, Crew 83 in Mast D 8+, pass the start mark watched by Crew 214, Doncaster RC, Mast F 4x-.  
Getting up to speed: Crew 91, Putney Town Rowing Club, Mast D 8+.
The last boat crosses the start line, an Auriol Kensington quad racing for time only. Over three days, 849 boats had gone before them.

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