Stars dazzle on the Charles
The 45th Head of the Charles attracted a record 8,800 athletes and 210 international teams in Boston last weekend including the Tideway Scullers’ Great Eight, winners of the Head of the River in March. Athletes and spectators had to cope with wintery conditions, including snow on the Sunday afternoon.
Tideway Scullers’ star studded crew, containing eight of the world’s best single scullers raced to an emphatic 13 second victory in the Championship Men’s Eights on Sunday.
It was a triumph that was only possible due to the extraordinary improvisation of coxswain Ali Williams. The Boston-based cox had to overcome the handicap of a broken rudder by thrusting her hands in the freezing water in an attempt to guide her crew around the sharp bends on the Charles River course. Britain’s world silver medallist sculler, Alan Campbell, who rowed in the bows of the boat said: “Our little cox Ali was an absolute superstar and we couldn’t have won the race without her.”
Campbell was joined by Olympic silver medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, Lassi Karonen of Sweden, Marcel Hacker of Germany, 2009 world champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, Belgium’s Tim Maeyens and Slovenia’s Iztok Cop. In the sixth seat American Warren Anderson replaced Olympic champion Olaf Tufte from Norway.
After the race, Scullers’ coach Bill Barry said: “It wasn’t just the racing. The guys also gave a lot back by working with young people in a local community centre. It shows you what these international ventures can achieve and we hope to do more of them.”
Another ‘Great Eight’ containing world silver medallists and Olympians Anna Bebington and Annabel Vernon topped the table as ASR Nereus, winning the Championship Women’s Eights by 24 seconds.
The ‘Super Shark 8+’ had been assembled by Olympian Femke Dekker, stroke of the Dutch women’s eight. Crew included Susan Francia and Erin Cafaro of USA, New Zealand’s top single sculler Emma Twigg, Canada’s Jane Rumball and Olympian Nienke Kingma from the Netherlands with US world champion in the eights Katelin Snyder in the coxing seat.
Finishing in fourth position in the Championship Women’s Eights were GB rowers including Olympic silver medallist Fran Houghton. The ‘Nautilus’ crew also featured Jo Cook, Louisa Reeve, Kristina Stiller, Jess Eddie, Alison Knowles, Natasha Page and Lindsey Maguire, coxed by Harvard’s Amanda Caplan.
Meanwhile, after dazzling wins in the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley, the School’s Head and Nat Schools earlier this year, Eton successfully defended their title in the Youth Men’s Eight. The schoolboy crew put in a commanding row to win by 43 seconds after taking last year’s event with 15 seconds to spare.
Maintaining a steady 33/34 rating during the race, cox Ollie Fletcher explained that he had focused on technique to keep the boat running smoothly.
Coach Alex Henshilwood was pleased to see his crew on track for the coming season. “The aim was to get back to the dock having given the best account of ourselves we could at this stage of our training, and we are confident that we did that which is pleasing,” he said. “It is hard to second guess the competition, so we don’t spend much time thinking about them, or margins – that won’t help our boat to go fast. The one certainty is that everyone wants to beat us, so why worry?”
Reporting on the Great Eight by Martin Cross
For full results from the Head of the Charles, visit http://www.hocr.org/results/results.asp