Mortlake to Putney
3 November 2018
Leander crews dominated their events on London last Saturday, winning four events outright, with all eight entries finishing first or second in their respective divisions.
In the absence of the club’s development athletes, who were saving themselves for GB Trials this weekend, it was left to the club’s internationals to fly the flag for Leander over the 4 ¼ mile Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney.
The club’s leading scullers led the 483-boat fleet off the start, and thereafter Jack Beaumont, John Collins, Jonny Walton, and Angus Groom, coached by Ali Brown, moved away to record the fastest time and retain the Head pennant for Leander for another year.
Leander’s second boat were no slouches either, with Charles Cousins returning to the squad for the first time since back surgery shortly after London 2012, and anchoring a line-up that included Harry Leask, Olympic champion Will Satch and 2017 bronze medallist Tom Barras. But despite this formidable crew they slipped to second place overall, some seven seconds adrift of the leaders.
It was the men fours that provided the surprise of the event, when the all-Leander GB men’s four, who won the bronze medal at the World Championships Bulgaria seven weeks ago, were beaten into second place by a scratch line-up of fellow GB athletes (pictured above). Men’s eight cox Henry Fieldman coached Ollie Cook, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, Tom Jeffries and Matt Rossiter, and despite having to borrow a boat at short notice after their main craft suffered steering damage, they romped home seven seconds clear of the established favourites.
The Leander juniors also fulfilled pre-race expectations by taking a straight 1-2, with Miles Devereux, Joe Murphy, Joe Willis, and Tim Eilers beating the club’s second boat by a massive 23 second margin.
Leander’s fifth win came in the women’s quads, where Emily Ford, Rowan McKellar, Karen Bennett and Jess Leyden came home clear leaders ahead of an Agecroft/ CUWBC/Tideway Scullers composite, with Lea RC in third place.
Leander might have recorded a fifth win on the day but their women’s four, who were fastest in their division through the timing markers, were disqualified after racing with the wrong number.
Leander will be looking for a successful defence of the title this weekend at the Fours Head, the traditional highlight of the autumn season in London.
The club’s leading quad of Angus Groom, John Collins, Jonny Walton and Jack Beaumont, have a vast amount of experience on board, and will be looking to stave off the opposition which includes Leander’s second boat, with Olympic champion Will Satch on board, starting in the No. 2 slot.
Also looking for a strong performance in the men’s fours will be the GB crew which won bronze at the World Championships in Bulgaria. James Johnston, Tom Ford, Adam Neill and Jacob Dawson have had a memorable season, starting with Henley Royal Regatta, where their triumph in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup saw them become the 200th Leander crew to win at Henley, in the club’s 200th year!
Leander’s leading women’s quad includes Olympic silver medallist Karen Bennett alongside former junior and U23 world champion Jess Leyden. But there’s no place for Leander captain Vicky Thornley, who is still not back to full fitness after overtraining saw her pull out of the world championships in September.
The imminent GB Trials, which take place just a week later, mean that none of Leander’s development athletes will race in London, but the club’s juniors will boat two quads and will be hoping for a good crack at the junior pennant.
Altogether 483 crews are scheduled to race over the 4 ¼ mile Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney, with Leander leading off the start at 12 noon.
Full details including the Draw are available on the Fours Head website