An early start from Cambridge Station but our intrepid men’s crew were on their way on Saturday for our first row on The Tideway in a number of years.
The Head of The River was founded by Steve Fairbairn (Jesus) in 1926 with 21 crews taking part. It is rowed over the 4¼ mile Thames Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney (i.e. the Boat Race course in reverse) and is usually held on the third or fourth Saturday in March, depending on the tides.
This year there were some 360 eights scheduled for the start line, with leading crews from all over the country and Europe.
Our trailer was waiting in Furnivall Gardens and ‘Lily’ was soon reassembled, re-rigged and ready to go. We were in the experienced hands of Furnivall SC who ensured we were on the river on time, although boating at 2 minute intervals was the quickest we had ever been on the water and away! With a start number of 318 there was a considerable amount of waiting and marshalling time at the start, and a relief to finally get underway and start racing.
From my excellent vantage point of the Furnivall Bar balcony, I could see ‘Lily’ and the guys push off another boat they had already caught and passed by Chiswick Eyot. Sweeping around the bend our cox Daniel was lining up to take the fast water under Hammersmith Bridge and I watched as ‘Lily’ disappeared under the second lamp on her way to the finish, perfect!
Exhausted and exhilarated back at the pontoon, we registered a solid race time of 20mins 58 secs. The winners, ‘Oxford Brookes I’ were well ahead of us with a race time of 17:35, but we were delighted to move up some 62 places from our start position. A great performance guys and we’ll certainly appreciate our Blues doing it all again on Sunday – this time against the tide!!
Our grateful thanks to the Cambridge ’99s for all their kind help and support in getting ‘Lily’ safely to Hammersmith and back, and to our London host club Furnivall for their most generous welcome. A proud day for St Edmund’s on the Thames.