Queen's I push off Hammersmith Bridge
(Photograph courtesy of Nigel Coburn)
Saturday saw crowds gather, crews take to the water and supporters cheer for the Head of the River Race 2010. 388 crews in all participated in the punishing 6.8km stretch from Mortlake to Putney, on the river Thames.
Queen's men entered with high expectations of bettering last year's performances of 17th and 80th.
Conditions on the day were average, after an initial few minutes of rain when racing commenced at 13:15.
The top crew performed well in their challenge against Goldie on Thursday, successfully beating Goldie in both pieces raced (Keith Wilson’s detailed account). This ensured them they had good boat speed, having received little competition in the competitive season to date.
On race day, the two crews launched from St. Paul's looking relaxed, yet fixated on their goal. At 13:15 crews were set off at 10 second intervals, with last year's winners, Tideway Scullers, leading the field. The top crew went off in hot pursuit of crew 15, Crefelder RC , Germany. By Hammersmith bridge Queen's had taken Crefelder and were pushing on hard.
The second eight achieved the same feat, overtaking one crew by Hammersmith, in the shape of Henley II.
Both crews pushed-on relentlessly to Putney. By the finish, the top eight had made significant ground on crew 14, Real CN de Vigo. The second eight managed to pass crews 80 and 79 (UCL I and Cambridge ’99 I) by the line, with a boost from the top crew who roared support on their return to St Paul's. This was an indicator that perhaps each had gained positions, but only an indicator.
The crews patiently awaited whilst provisional results were relayed via phone. The top crew finished 9th in a time of 17:49.07, making the top ten and providing Queen's with a record finish in HORR. This put them under 28 seconds behind winners Molesey I and an agonising 4.56 seconds behind the top university Oxford Brookes, who took the Bernard Churcher Trophy. The crew were quite unmoved by the result though, drawing both positives and negatives from the row in the ‘kaizen-like’ manner they conduct themselves in this season.
The second crew finished 32nd overall, in a time of 18:18.15. They narrowly beat Oxford Brookes II by 0.35 seconds, making them the fastest finishing university second eight of the day. They finished under 30 seconds behind the top eight, signalling their improvement since Erne Head.
The weekends result was extremely encouraging for Queen's, outlining the depth of this year's senior squad. However, Queen's must now wipe the slate clean as regatta season starts with immediate effect.
University Championships Regatta takes place in Cork, April 10th and will be the primary focus of participating universities over the next fortnight. Queen’s aim to retain the Wylie Cup and put their small boats training into good practise for the overall championship. The women hope to challenge for the Bank of Ireland Cup off the back of successful results to date.
Hope to see you all there.