On a warm Sunday morning, four crews from Henley Rowing Club took advantage of the first weekend of sunny weather to race at the Hammersmith Head. The Henley crews were eager to demonstrate that their enforced decamp to the Olympic rowing venue at Dorney Lake for training over the past two months hadn’t detracted from the winter training programme and had put them in a great competitive position.
The Women’s Elite 8 was the first Henley crew to race in a field of nearly two hundred boats down the two and three quarter mile course from Chiswick to Hammersmith Bridge. The crew of Rachel Barnes-Willis, Jenny Spencer, Rachael Alder, Sarah Winckless, Genevieve Bailhache, Lizzie Cottrell, Cat Kay, Rhona O’Deary and cox Ruaridh Macphee were keen to repeat their winning performance at the City of Bristol Head a fortnight before. With a fast outgoing tide, the eight chased a strong crew from Imperial College to finish marginally in second place in a time of 11 minutes and 30 seconds.
The next Henley boat down the course was the Women’s IM3 Eight, comprised of a Junior Women’s crew of Lauren Kay, Lilly Stimpson, Florence Wiggins, Maisie Turner, Hannah Gutteridge, Georgia Edwards, Ella Morgan and Anna Roe. With impeccable steering from cox, Rebecca Lister, the eight recorded a superb time of 11 minutes and 40 seconds, coming third in the Women’s IM3 category, and importantly beating the time of older girls in the WJ18 category. A magnificent performance which showed great promise for their own age group event at the School’s Head at the end of March.
In the Junior races, Henley netted a trio of emphatic wins. The J16 boys had a late substituion through injury and bowman Tom Frost stepped in to join Harry Farley, Alex Meyer-O’Kane and Alasdair Roy in the coxless quad. Racing against old adversaries Tiffin School for the first time this season, the boys had a score to settle after being beaten at last years National Schools Regatta. The crew rose to the occasion magnificently and crossed the finish line at Hammersmith Bridge in a winning time of 11 minutes and 17 seconds to win and put Tiffin firmly into second place.
The current British Champion quad of Lauren Edwards, Maddie Orr, Ellie Thompson and Hattie Orr were racing to put a marker down to other WJ16 crews in advance of the Oarsport Sculling Head on 14 March. With their usual composure and fearsome competitive spirit, the crew were first away in the WJ16 race and soon caught numerous boats in the WJ18 category ahead of them. The quad won the race in a time of 11 minutes and 47 seconds and achieved the fastest Junior Women’s quad time of the Head.
In the final category of the day, the Henley WJ18 coxed four of Ciara Buckley, Emily Pimlott, Kryssie Steiger, Alexis Perkins and cox Rebecca Lister demonstrated their Fours Head winning performance on the tideway yet again. With clear domination of their event, they strode to the finish line in a winning time of 12 minutes and 25 seconds and achieve the third Henley RC triumph of the day.