Mortlake to Putney
12 November 2017
Leander crews were in dominant form at the Fours Head on Sunday, when they retained the overall Head title as well as picking up wins in six separate racing divisions.
But it was the club’s U23 athletes who upset the favourites to take top honours when Jonny Jackson, Rowan Law, Harry Leask and Andy Joel, coached by Ali Brown, recorded the fastest time of the day over the 4 ¼ mile course from Mortlake to Putney. Their win was all the more surprising since they started at 43 among the fleet, giving them a theoretical disadvantage as the ebb tide had slackened compared with the leading crews.
In second place was the winning Leander senior quad stuffed with GB athletes including world bronze medal single sculler Tom Barras at stroke. Nick Middleton, the club captain, was behind him at 2, with world championship finalists Angus Groom and John Collins as the bow pair.
Four more GB athletes won men’s fours when Tim Clarke, Ollie Wynne-Griffiths, Jacob Dawson and Matt Rossiter beat Oxford University, rowing as Isis, by some nine seconds, with Leander’s second crew a further three seconds behind in third.
Not to be outdone, Leander’s women matched the men with wins in all three corresponding events, starting with Beth Bryan, Kat Copeland, Vicky Thornley and Holly Nixon who beat Newcastle University by 23 seconds to win women’s quads.
Next up was the women’s coxless four, with three members of the GB women’s eight on board. Fi Gammond, Holly Norton, Emily Taylor and Katherine Douglas, coached by Jane Hall, duly delivered, with an eight second margin over second-placed Molesey.
Leander’s final win of the day came in the women’s U23 quads, where Natasha Harris-White, Rachel Heap, Flo Donald and Zoe Adamson, coached by Ross Hunter came home three second clear of Reading University.
Leander plans to boat a massive entry of 13 boats at the Fours Head on Sunday, when a total of 484 crews will battle out the 4¼ mile time trial between Mortlake and Putney in the first major event of the new rowing year.
Club captain Nick Middleton strokes the leading quad which also includes world championship bronze medal sculler Tom Barras along with Angus Groom from the GB double and John Collins from the silver medal quad.
Illness and injury have once again played their part in crew selections so the quad will set off in the No. 5 slot, despite Leander winning the overall Head pennant by 12 seconds in 2016.
Meanwhile in the women’s quads, starting further back down the field, Jess Leyden will stroke the Leander crew, backed up by her crewmates Holly Nixon and Beth Bryan from the GB women’s quad, with world silver medal single sculler Vicky Thornley in the bow seat.
In coxless fours Matt Rossiter will stroke the lead Leander boat, backed up by Tim Clarke, Ollie Wynne-Griffiths and Jacob Dawson, while Barney Stentiford, Finn Stevenson and George Rossiter, who won the Visitors’ at Henley this year, make up a second crew with former U23 sculler Harry Glenister.
Olympic silver medallist Karen Bennett is out of the Leander women’s four, so Katherine Douglas, Holly Norton, Fi Gammond will be stroked by Emily Ford in a crew that will be looking to fight off potential challenges from Molesey, University of London and Cambridge University.
Because of adverse tides elsewhere in the month this will be the first year the race has been run on Remembrance Sunday so the organisers have announced that the two minutes’ silence will be observed before the lead crews gets under way at 1045 hrs.
Full details including the Draw are available on the Fours Head website