Fours Head 2019: Round Up


Westminster were the dark horse this weekend, having hitherto raced sweep they have certainly made an entrance into this year's sculling. They won and beat last year’s NSR J16 and J18 quad winners TSS and Henley by just 7 seconds, so still all to play for come Schools’ Head. Henley we'd expect to be very strong in the quads again this season so perhaps this result was a little disappointing. Walton dominated band 2 winning both the quads and the coxless fours both with competitive times, so don’t disregard them as strong Fawley or Wyfold competitors.

St Paul's won the coxed four by over 20 seconds, so they seem to be dominating the sweep scene as they did in the 2018 season, with this result now being their seventh victory in a row in coxed fours. They should watch out for Bedford however, who’s band 2 time would put them second in band 1, and should be looking ahead to getting back on the scene following a dip in form last year. Another mention must go to Kings College School for winning the coxless fours by over 40 seconds, breaking the course record in the process. They will hopefully continue to rise after their NSR A-Final last year.

One club stood out more than any this weekend for the junior girls at HOR4s, and that was Tideway Scullers. Winning 3 out of 5 junior girls events and setting a new course record Scullers really showed the field the advantage of racing on home water. Be sure to watch out for them come Schools’ Head and WEHORR. Kingston RC won the coxed fours by almost 30 seconds and this should set them up for their third year of junior sweep domination. Putney High School, winners of band 2 quads rowed with a time that would have put them in second place for band 1 quads, beating the likes of Marlow and Henley; definitely ones to watch.


 On the university front, Reading University made a real statement fielding the top two fastest quads in both the men's and women's academic events. There's no doubt that if you're looking to scull at university, Reading is the place to go.  On the men's side, Hartpury finished third just a few seconds ahead of Reading's C crew. Reading's top women's crew were an astonishing 75 seconds quicker than the next university, Nottingham in third.

Cambridge technically posted the fastest time down the course in the academic coxed fours, but a late arrival to the start cost them time penalties to give dark blue rivals Oxford the pennant. A late arrival makes life more difficult for the marshals, but also can be of benefit in arriving to the start warm and avoiding the cold wait on the bank. With two seconds in it, it certainly looks all to play for in the next few months before we can get a real sense of which way the 2020 Boat Race will swing. Imperial managed to sneak into third amongst a huge pack of dark and light blue crews while Edinburgh took the B2 win. 

Oxford also came home with the coxless four pennant in a confident win ahead of Goldie and again Imperial in third. The Oxford lightweights put in an impressive show to finish just fractions of a second behind ICBC. The women's coxless four went to CUWBC, just four seconds ahead of a very strong crew in a slightly different shade of light blue from Edinburgh. Cambridge have been dominant in the last few women's boat races and they will want to prove they can do just the same with this new cohort of athletes. In the same style as the men, Imperial came up in third place and the B2 pennant went to Glasgow. 

The women's Boat Race clubs came home with a pennant each as OUWBC took the women's academic coxed fours. A mention goes to St Andrews finishing in third as the only club besides Oxbridge in the entire event! The OUWLRC put in a good performance amongst some heavyweight crews to win B2. 

 Club/ Open Events

In what might have been a concerning nudge for the Swiss Rowing Federation quad, they lost out on the overall pennant to this summer's U23 world champions from GB, topping off a very successful year with their red boxes as well as gold medals. A very high calibre crew, the majority return for another crack at the U23s in Bled while the talented Sam Meijer will look to break into the senior team and add to 4 world championship titles from the age group levels. Edinburgh finished third in B1, but with a slower time than academic winners, Reading. B2 quads was won by a Nottingham RC/ Reading RC/ Strathclyde Park RC/ Twickenham composite. 

The Swiss Rowing Federation did take the win in open coxless fours ahead of Molesey RC and Tideway Scullers. It's nice to see some development in the TSS men's squad with them placing well in these categories after they've been much better renowned for their women's squad in recent years. Molesey took the B2 pennant ahead of two London RC fours, a club that have perhaps struggled to stay at the top of the increasingly competitive domestic circuit. 

Perhaps the performance of the day, however, came in the coxed fours. Brookes fielded a top class crew with some of the most outstanding members of their programme who have progressed into the GB senior team in the likes of Josh Bugajski, Rory Gibbs, Matthew Tarrant and Oli Wilkes, steered by Harry Brightmore. They finished a staggering third overall, the highest placing by a coxed four since 1966.  They left a fair old margin to Molesey and Thames in B1, while Nottingham and Marlow RCs took the B2 and B3 wins respectively. 

TSS were the fastest overall women's crew as they took home the W4x title- especially nice to see a member of the crew that's progressed right the way up since being a Scullers junior. A crew mostly comprising the U23 W4x world champions from GB came behind in second ahead of the Swiss nationals in third. Another composite took the women's band 2 win, this time of Agecroft RC/ Reading RC/ Strathclyde Park RC/ Twickenham RC.

It was scullers who then took the W4- pennant ahead of Nottingham and Vesta, while Molesey topped B2 in a time that would've placed them third up in B1. TSS just missed out on the W4+ pennant to Thames RC by less than a second with Vesta again in third, although they took home the B2 pennant. It's great to see such close margins between two very strong tideway-based women's club programmes and it will be exciting to see how they progress through the season to events next year like WEHORR and HWR.