The Head of the River – Preview

This weekend is going to be pretty busy. On Sunday are the Henley Boat Races, the last time that the Oxford and Cambridge women race each other on the Henley reach, from next year they move to the Championship course on the Tideway just like the men. And it’s on this course that nearly 400 crews will do battle in the Head of the River race.
Unfortunately time pressure mean I won’t be able to do a full preview so I will have to restrict myself to the top end.

With the GB team choosing not to race at the 1st World Cup in Australia this year it means that all the senior internationals (or at least, all those who are fit and healthy) have one of the few opportunities in the year to compete in club, rather than national, colours.
This means that the two predominant clubs in the UK, Leander and Molesey will go head-to-head with the majority of their “stars” onboard.
Starting head will be Leander:

Bow: Al Sinclair -5th M4- 2013
2: Will Satch – Gold M8 2013
3: Matt Gotrel – 8th GB2 M8 Lucerne World Cup
4: Charlie Cousins – Bronze M4X 2013
5: Pete Reed – Gold M8 2013
6: Alex Gregory – Gold M8 2013
7: Tom Ransley – Gold M8 2013
Stroke: Pete Lambert – Bronze M4X 2013
cox: Phelan Hill – Gold M8 2013
so, 5 world champions, 2 world medalists and 2 senior internationals. On paper this is a mightily impressive line-up. But, things have not been plain sailing for the Pink Palace so far this season. At the Head of the River fours the top 4+ were thumped, not just by Oxford’s top 4+, but also by two Cambridge coxed fours. The top Leander coxless 4 were also beaten by the Isis 4+ and, more tellingly, by the top Molesey 4-.
More recently a near full strength Leander crew took on the Oxford Blue Boat and were pretty well humiliated, losing both pieces by more than 3 lengths. The fact Leander lost may not be too surprising, they were largely a scratch crew, in the middle of a very tough training period and up against an outstanding Oxford crew entering the final stages of Boat Race preparation. But, the manner of the defeat was a bit of a surprise.

Starting 2nd are Molesey:
Bow: Sam Scrimgeour – 2013 bronze LM2-
2: Adam Freeman-Pask – 2013 bronze LM4-
3: Sam Townsend – 2013 Bronze M4X
4: Phil Congdon – 2013 8th M8 World Cup 3
5: Mo Sbihi – 2013 Gold M8
6: Andy Triggs-Hodge – 2013 Gold M8
7: George Nash – 2013 Gold M8
Stroke: James Foad – 2013 7th M2-
Cox: Henry Fieldman – 2013 8th M8 World Cup 3
So up against Leander’s 5 world champions and 2 world medalists, Molesey have 3 world champions and 3 world medalists. So, advantage Leander you my think, but I’m not so sure. Molesey have a bit more swagger about them. Their top boat did well at the Head of the river Fours (as mentioned above) and when they took on the Cambridge Blue Boat they won both pieces by more than 3 lengths. Earlier this week Molesey did some short pieces with Oxford and there was little in it. So by that reckoning it’ll be Molesey’s race……won’t it?

Starting 3rd are Oxford Brookes
Bow: Jamie Copus – GB U23
2: Ed Grisedale – Junior International
3: Richard Hawkins – U23 trialist
4: Matt Tarrant – 5th M4- 2013
5: Tim Grant – 2013 U23
6: Mason Durant – 2013 8th M8 World Cup 3
7: Ollie Holt – -U23 Trialist
Stroke: Pete Chambers – bronze LM2X 2013
Cox: Rory Copus – 2013 U23 M8

Brookes are always fierce fighters and they are led by the experienced Olympian Pete Chambers. As the line up shows, they are a mix of current (young) senior internationals and those who on the verge of breaking into the senior squad. They may not quite have the guns to match the top two but they will be looking to get as close as possible.

Starting 4th: University of London
Bow: Matt Bedford – silver BLM2-
2: Nathanial Reilly-O’Donnell – 5th M4- 2013
3: Richard Clarke – HRR winner
4: Paul Bennett 7th M2- World Cup 1 2013
5: Ollie Cook – 7th M2- 2013 World Champs
6: Rory Bufacchi – HRR winner
7: Jamie Cook – 5th BM8
Stroke: Matt Rossiter – 2nd BM4- 2010
Cox: Matilda Horn
UL are unbeaten so far this season and some commentators reckon this is potentially the fastest ever UL 8. Packed with internationals and on home water they will be looking to challenge Molesey and Leander and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them split the two.

The battle between the North-East’s top rowing Universities, Newcastle and Durham (staring 6 & 7), doesn’t look like happening now as there are reports that Durham have been excluded from the race due to an incident during training.

Among the numerous foreign entries the pick will probably be the German sprint league champions from Crefelder, and the Italian’s from CUS Pavia. The Italians boast no fewer than six senior and U23 internationals including 2013 LM8 world champion, Simone Molteni.

So who do I think will be Head….always bet on Black….my money is on Molesey by a good few seconds over Leander with UL snapping at their heels.

Well, that’s all I’ve got time for,apologies it’s a bit truncated. At least the weather forecast is better than for the Schools Head earlier in the week!

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2 thoughts on “The Head of the River – Preview

  1. Nigel Press

    Daniel, delighted to know of another rowing lay-clerk, especially one who is so sanguine about UL in today’s HoR! After my school days in Canterbury, I was a peripatetic l-c at Southwark, Rochester and Hereford (winter training there led to HRR medals) in the 70’s during my rowing days at UL. Now sing in London chamber choirs – Choir of the 21st Century, New Renaissance Voices, Thomas Tallis etc. Still in vet rowing, did RowZambezi with the Cooks of UL in 2011 and on ULBC Trust. Hope our paths will cross some day. Keep blogging, great stuff. Warm regards. Nigel Press.

    Reply

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