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Fours' Head of the River 2007

Saturday 3rd November

Previous event: Queens' Ergs - Following event: Cambridge Winter Head

1st Men's Coxed IV

Bow: David Hardeman, 2: Ed Day, 3: Tom Nixon, Stroke: Ben Evans, Cox: James Michael

331st overall in a time of 22 mins 43.39 secs. 33rd out of 36 Senior 3 (Academic) 4+

Photos of the 1st Men's Coxed IV: click to view full size. (see all 17 photos of this crew)


1st Men's Coxless IV

Bow: Will Kerr‑Muir, 2: Chris Baker, 3: Kenrick Turner, Stroke: David O'Brien

139th overall in a time of 21:02.06. 15th out of 46 in Senior 2 IV-

Kenrick Turner reports:

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The Championship Course, 4 miles and 374 yards of tideway from Putney to Mortlake, is an unforgiving stretch of water. An American friend, after racing HoR4s in 2005, once remarked that when he had made his million, he intended to purchase the Tideway, concrete it over, and turn it into a go-kart racetrack. There are times when I can sympathise with that view.

Saturday was not one of them. The weather gods were smiling on us, and gave us a day of autumnal sunshine with a light tailwind for the majority of the course - a far cry than what it often is in November.

A defeat to First and Third in the first round of Uni4s earlier in the week had caused us to question our speed: although our rhythm and power through the drive was cohesive, we rated too low and did not put enough power down in the water.

Despite a Clare crew being DQ'd last year, we were going off at 181, 4th in S2 IV-. Immediately in front of us was Cardiff University, and behind Curlew.

We boated early from Furnival, and paddled down under Hammersmith to Barn Elms before spinning out of the stream and beginning the paddle to the start, putting in some bursts and a start, wherever space allowed.

We were racing in Division 3, so marshalled on the Middlesex bank above Chiswick, waiting for the start. As ever, entertainment was provided in the form of self-important marshals shouting at incompetent crews.

Eventually, Division 3 was signalled to spin.

Spinning into the stream before a Tideway Head is always a surreal experience for me. A hundred-odd crews nudge their bows into the stream, and, slowly at first, and then quickly, the stream spins them into the approach to the start. It is the calm before the storm, a moment of 'bullet-time' - where your immediate competition is broadside on.

We approached the start at a strong 22, and as we came under the lights of Chiswick bridge, did a flying start up to race pace. We quickly established our rhythm, smooth and flowing. The first few minutes to Barnes were all about engraining the killing rhythm that would drive us over the course. As we came past Fuller's brewery, we gained overlap on Cardiff. Before the start, we were unsure of their speed, and guessed that we would pass them after Barnes. Confident of our line, they drifted wide out of the stream, and in a matter of strokes I was on their bowball and then in clear water.

Behind us were Curlew, who dispatched Cardiff with similar ease. We shot through Barnes bridge, right on the money, only to corner slightly too sharpley on the bends exit round to the Bandstand which took us out of the stream and allowed Curlew to come up on us, who were in turn being harried by a crew behind.

Past the Bandstand, we drifted back into the stream, and a rhythm change and up-2 put Curlew back on station behind us. As we came up to the Eyot, puddles from a crew in front began to drift past. Despite Will's vocal efforts to get them to move to Middlesex, they remained on Surrey, forcing us to take an outside line past them as we started the long, slow turn into the Surrey bend.

Behind us, Curlew got entangled in a three boat sandwich which then encountered one of the new PLA buoys on the inside of the Surrey bend. One crew from the sandwich, 185, began to gain on us as we came past St. Pauls.

A perfect line under Hammersmith, with strokesides' blades striking beneath the third lampost, helped us to attack the graveyard area of the course - a section of limbo past Harrods where crews aren't quite near enough the finish to sprint, yet near exhaustion from the 4km they've already covered.

Our line was wide on the exit of the Surrey bend, and coupled with a section of ragged strokes, allowed chasing crews to gain. We found our rhythm and line again as we came onto the straight-shot to Barn Elms, although crew 185 continued to stick with us, despite our best efforts to push them away.

Again, I turned fractionally early before Barn Elms, causing us to be wide as we came down to the Putney embankment and buoy line. We started cranking for the finish as we shot past the Black Buoy, but because of a better line (and perhaps better rowing) crew 185 continued to gain.

We crossed the finish in front, and in a haze of lactate drifted under Putney bridge before spinning and starting the long slog home against the stream.

Uploaded Monday 5th November, 1:10

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Photos of the 1st Men's Coxless IV: click to view full size. (see all 15 photos of this crew)