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Head of the River Race 2019

For once the weather gods provided a perfect day for the mens Head of the River Race. The six Lea eights that were racing (four mens eights and two women eights) were faced with the unusual sight of a flat tideway. The mens first eight were up early for a pre race paddle to blow out some cobwebs and calm the pre race nerves. Everyone was in good form and raring to go.

The first eight, Lea A, went off 31st of the 300 starters and had a great row to finish 23rd. Our highest finishing position for twenty years. They rowed away from the crews behind and caught and passed a Newcastle university crew as they raced down in front of the Putney boathouses. We had set our sights on a top twenty finish and were tantalisingly close, about 3 seconds , or one boat length over 18 minutes. A really good effort and for once no last minute illnesses, no injuries, great conditions, no congestion in front so a clear run and a true reflection of where we are as a crew. Where we are is right at the top end of the clubs we will be encountering at Henley come the summer. There are three or four club crews there with us so some close, hot racing in prospect.

The crew racing as Lea B, starting 50th, were the club masters crew of familiar faces. Some of this crew knew where the gym was and visited it quite often. Some just knew where it was. As it happened the muscle memory kicked in and the crew delivered a decent result finishing 101st.

The mens second eight raced as Lea C, starting 69th. The target was a top 100 finish which was duly delivered as they cruised in at 98th a full four seconds ahead of the B crew. Never in doubt.

Lea D were Steve Mitchlesons young guns from the club squad. The target was a top 150 finish and again target hit coming in 143rd of 300, sandwiched between Cantabrigian A and the University of Surrey A, and a just reward for hard consistent work over the past few months.

We had two women's eights competing for time only in a last minute addition to the head itinerary following the cancellation of the women event a couple of weeks earlier. The first eight came 6th of the 23 starters . Folllowing injury and work commitments the hastily reshuffled B crew stepped up too and came 17th.

A great day all round and now lots of work to do on training camp in Belgium. I hope they still let us in.

Richard Ellis

5 April 2019

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