The idea for a Tradesmen’s Tideway Head Race for fours was first mooted in the early 1950s. This year marked the 63rd Head of the River Fours and also the 41st since women’s crews became integrated into the event and took place over the world famous 4 ¼ mile Championship course on Sunday from Mortlake to Putney.
The bright and breezy conditions did cause difficulties for some crews but in the women’s junior events, Henley Rowing Club won both the JW4+ and JW4x, their third double victory in a row, so continuing this season’s winning streak.
The first boat down the course was the junior women’s quad of Issy Jonsson, Lottie Orr, Sophia Hahn and Georgie Robinson Ranger. This boat put in an incredibly strong performance putting 45 seconds between them and the next fastest junior quad. The women’s junior coxed four of Phoebe Fletcher, Mary Wright, Daisy Butterworth, Grace Johnson and cox, Ella Nolson then matched this performance also winning their event by 45 seconds. The rest of the squad showcased the depth they have with the second junior women’s quad placing 4th and the second junior women’s coxed four placing third.
Spratley Studios, who have supported HRC junior squads for many years said: “We congratulate the girls on their double pennant wins at HOR4s. The dedication and hard work shown by all the squad members is inspiring and we are thrilled that the squad continues to go from strength to strength.”
Leander crews were in dominant form at the Fours Head too. They retained the overall Head title as well as picking up wins in six separate racing divisions.
But it was the club’s U23 athletes who upset the favourites to take top honours when Jonny Jackson, Rowan Law, Harry Leask and Andy Joel, coached by Ali Brown, recorded the fastest time of the day over the 4 ¼ mile course from Mortlake to Putney. Their win was all the more surprising since they started at 43 among the fleet, giving them a theoretical disadvantage as the ebb tide had slackened compared with the leading crews.
In second place was the winning Leander senior quad stuffed with GB athletes including world bronze medal single sculler Tom Barras at stroke. Nick Middleton, the club captain, was behind him at 2, with world championship finalists Angus Groom and John Collins as the bow pair.
Four more GB athletes won men’s fours when Tim Clarke, Ollie Wynne-Griffiths, Jacob Dawson and Matt Rossiter beat Oxford University, rowing as Isis, by some nine seconds, with Leander’s second crew a further three seconds behind in third.
Not to be outdone, Leander’s women matched the men with wins in all three corresponding events, starting with Beth Bryan, Kat Copeland, Vicky Thornley and Holly Nixon who beat Newcastle University by 23 seconds to win women’s quads.
Next up was the women’s coxless four, with three members of the GB women’s eight on board. Fi Gammond, Holly Norton, Emily Taylor and Katherine Douglas, coached by Jane Hall, duly delivered, with an eight second margin over second-placed Molesey.
Leander’s final win of the day came in the women’s U23 quads, where Natasha Harris-White, Rachel Heap, Flo Donald and Zoe Adamson, coached by Ross Hunter came home three second clear of Reading University.
All the winners will be invited to the prize giving to be held at the Fuller’s Brewery on the 11 January 2018.