On 11 March, the three provisional CUW crews competed in the Women’s Head of the River Race, which is rowed over the men’s Boat Race course but in the reverse direction, from Mortlake to Putney. This was to be the last race before the Boat Races on 1st April, and also an opportunity for the crews to assess themselves directly against Oxford, who were also competing. Having raced a similar distance at Nottingham two weeks previously, all 3 crews were optimistic of putting in a solid performance.
The provisional Blue Boat started in the demanding position of 4th, behind top clubs Leander and Thames, and a Dutch international crew racing as Nereus BC. They attacked the race with determination, and during the first half maintained the same pace as Nereus. Through the middle section, however, the crew’s lack of experience began to show, and both rating and acceleration dropped. A storming final two kilometres however, managed to make up some of this deficit and they finished 8th, claiming the Senior 3 pennant.
After a poor performance last year, Blondie had to start the race in 47th, a position that they soon demonstrated was inappropriate. Overtaking more than five crews down the course, they finished twenty places higher than they had started. The Lightweights also put in a strong performance despite the lightweight-unfriendly conditions, finishing inside the top twenty and beating their Oxford counterparts by fifteen seconds, and only 3 seconds adrift of the Oxford reserve heavyweight women.
Photograph courtesy of Peter Twitchett