Leander dominates 2014 Fours Head
Leander, beaten to the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours title last year by Tideway Scullers’ all-star international crew, responded in record-breaking fashion on Saturday as their elite quad recorded the fastest time – 17 minutes 54 seconds –on a day when the club claimed a best-ever total of six victors’ pennants.
The Tideway top boat, with only Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell remaining from the quartet which had finished almost 25 seconds clear the previous year, finished sixth in 18:25.3.
Above them Leander filled four of the top five places, with their second quad finishing second in 18:07.6, just 0.7 seconds faster than an Imperial College/Westminster School composite featuring 17-year-old Pairs Head winner Sam Meijer.
Leander V won the elite coxless fours pennant, fourth overall in 18:10.5, and Leander IV, a place behind them in 18:20.7, won the elite lightweight quadruple sculls title.
The other Leander winners on the day were the IM1 4x- crew, seventh in 18:27.3, the IM2 4+ crew, who clocked 19:24.2, and the women’s elite quad, which benefited from the late arrival of 2013 world gold medallist Polly Swann after her elite coxless four was scratched. This left the field clear for the only other boat in the category, a composite featuring her erstwhile partner Helen Glover and Glover’s Olympic champion partner Heather Stanning, which took the fastest overall time for the women’s fours in 19:38.0.
Swann and Co clocked 19:24.1 to hold off a strong Imperial College crew stroked by world champion single sculler Emma Twigg of New Zealand, and featuring Polish Olympic bronze medallist Julia Michalska (19:28.5)
Oxford University crews had greater reasons for optimism than their Cambridge counterparts as they met on the stretch of water upon which next year’s men’s and women’s Boat Races will be run on 11 April.
The most eye-catching performance came from Oxford’s top crew, racing as Isis II and featuring club President and reigning world champion Constantine Louloudis, which maintained top position in the elite coxed fours in 18:30.4.
Behind them were a Molesey crew including world fours gold medallists Moe Sbihi and George Nash (18:35.1) and a Leander crew boasting its own world champions in Alex Gregory, Will Satch and cox Phelan Hill, which finished third in the category in 18:36.4. Isis III were one place behind, in 18:50.5, with the top Cambridge boat, including three Blues, fifth in 18:52.7.
Crews from the Dutch club KSRV Njord were able to take part in boats provided by Parr’s Priory RC and Putney High School after their own had been damaged in a crash involving their trailer in Leiden on Wednesday night.
Full results here: http://hor4s.org.uk/docs/results-2014-time.pdf.
Reports by Mike Rowbottom
Photos by BigBlade