Womens' Head of the River: An Oarswoman's View

By London_Duncan Last edited 115 months ago
Womens' Head of the River: An Oarswoman's View
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The 2008 running of the Womens' Head of the River race on Saturday was certainly as unpredictable as many expected given the absence of Britain's elite oarswomen at a pre-Olympic training camp. In the picture above, one of many in a marvellous Flickr set from London Annie, you can see last year's winners, Thames A, on the far right being overhauled by Osiris, the Oxford University Blues Boat, who went on to take the headship having started from fourth place. Nottingham Rowing Club on the far left also passed Thames to take fourth place, the holders eventually finishing fifth. In a great race for the city of dreaming spires, the Oxford Brookes University crew made up 32 places to come second. Durham University climbed 6 spots to claim third, the University of London Women's A boat made sixth and a combined crew including representation from the Mortlake club, somehow made up 164 places to cross the line just behind them.

If you'd like to know what it's like to prepare for and row in a major event on the Tideway have a look at the excellent WEHoRR post on But Why?'s blog A Large Number of Small Experiences.

My ability to sense of the passage of time disappears completely during races. Once in a race, it is as if there is only a single moment, the cycle of a stroke, which is endlessly repeated, the start being an incomprehensibly long time ago and the promise of the end being an agonisingly incomprehensible long time into the future. We overtook five crews on the way down to Putney. Our first victims tried to steer into us at one point (this is not very sporting and nor is it very bright). Fortunately our cox had words with his counterpart, and they moved across with roasting ears. The second crew we overtook seemed to be having steering issues, too, but these seemed beyond their control. Judging by the way they were apparently moving at random around the river (including clashing blades with us a couple of times) they'd probably lost their rudder and weren't able to steer. Our crew were collectively a little wound up by this point, having lost valuable seconds through being impeded...

If you'd like to read more, get over to:

http://smallexperiences.blogspot.com/2008/03/wehorr.html

Last Updated 04 March 2008

unsliced

Great to see the Women's Head on Londonist, but a quick, "well actually ... "

You don't somehow make up 164 places (actually 166 - the crew that finished 7th started at 173). Crews finishing high enough get a "protected" start slot in next year's race, but after those protected spots the new entrants start; composite crews will generally be classed among the new entrants - so those guys weren't protecting 173rd!

Some races, like the Men's Head in 10 days' time, sprinkle in new entrants that are likely to be fast - overtaking is risky so foreign international crews shouldn't really expect to be behind a club that finished 280th last year.

Duncan

Thanks for the clarification, unsliced. I thought there had to be something going on there beyond straightforward overtaking.