Head of the River 2012

Considered to be the peak of the Head Race season, the annual Head of the River took our boys from York and placed them in London for the gruelling 7km row along the Thames at 11am on Saturday, 17th March. The course is exactly that of the Oxbridge Boat Race but in reverse, so is rowed downstream rather than up, taking the crews from Mortlake to Putney on the Tideway in London. Not an easy feat amongst almost 3500 other participants!

The crews for the day are entirely male, as the Women’s Head of the River occurs a little earlier in the month. Thus we took 2 boats: Senior VIII and Novice VIII. Every squad member pushed themselves extremely hard, taking our northern spirit a little farther down south to show them what we’re made of. Both crews placed fantastically: senior men at 78th out of 494 crews, coming 14th out of 74 in their category, and the novice men taking 296th out of 404 crews, seeing them in as 19th out of 65th in their category (this translates to 19th out of all novices in the country).

©The Yorker; Image credit: James Tompkinson

For the latter boat this was their first taste of participating in such a large and renowned race; previously competition was sourced on a more local scale with significantly fewer universities and other clubs taking part. Particular mention must be made to them also, as just prior to the race beginning they were struck in the side by another boat, leaving them to contend with a nasty hole in their side. Added to this, their cox box, the primary method of direct communication between the cox and the crew broke, a frustrating occurrence on any day, but particularly so prior to such an important event. However, in true York style, they pushed through regardless, making their result that much more impressive.

Not only a national race, Head of the River gives rowers from all around the world the opportunity to partake, with over 400 crews flocking to London to fill the Thames and crowd the banks with dedicated supporters. For those first timers from York, the River Ouse I’m sure must begin to look like a mere stream when faced with the Thames!

Predominantly a race that tests endurance, the stretch of river is no easy one, demanding strength and consistent dedication to training from the squads for the months leading up to it. Jamie McGovern, a member of the novice VIII speaks of his experience of the day: “We put in a solid performance at our first big race as our strongest crew, which is only testament to the true commitment and hard work shown by each and every member of the team.” Let’s take these superb results and push them further for race season next term.

Well done boys! Henley doesn’t look too far off now...

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