Scullers return to the Thames in force

More than 400 scullers competed in the first head race for over two years run under Hammersmith Bridge last weekend – and what a race it was!


Jamie Copus, overall men's winner of the Scullers Head (c) AllMarkOne

The 2021 Vesta Scullers Head of the River Race took place with scullers of different abilities and experiences racing the unforgiving course on the Tideway from University Stone in Chiswick to the Putney Pier in a great display of the mental and physical challenges in the single-scull discipline.

Jamie Copus secured the win of the lightweight champion category – the Oxford Brookes athlete’s time was strong enough to also take the overall win for the race in a time of 21:40 minutes. Second place went to Leander’s Sebastian Devereux, five seconds behind taking the men’s championship win.

Jess Leyden was the first woman home and 43rd overall in an incredible 23:16 minutes taking the win for Leander Club in the women’s championship category.

The only Para-rower in this year’s event, Lucy Radley stormed down the course to finish in just over 28 minutes and 329th overall and overtook numerous boats on her way. We hope that Lucy’s race and result will encourage more Para-athletes to tackle the Scullers Head course in future years!

“It was incredible to see hundreds of boats lined along the Thames”

As the race unfolded and scullers came under the famous green and gold of Hammersmith Bridge, Vesta’s Adam Laird reflected afterwards that the “glassy water off the start lured [us] into a false sense of security” as a relentless head wind picked up on the bend around Hammersmith. Tired legs had to work just that little bit more, making the finish line that bit sweeter as the Tideway welcomed back racing in true bumpy fashion.

Adam added that it was “incredible to see hundreds of boats lined along the Thames” and to have the return of “supporters who turned out to watch, cheer and help us through the tough parts of the course”. He summed up: “This was a fantastic day – we really appreciate your time and effort.”


Volunteers from Vesta at the ready!

Usually held in December, this year the race was held in warmer September conditions. The new date within the racing calendar “looks to be a keeper as it was hugely popular with the competitors, almost all of whom were able to row in skins”, said Alex Brown on the Vesta Organising Committee.

Training for this event is never an easy task, however the request from many to keep it in September is perfectly summed up by women’s masters A champion, and seasoned Scullers Head competitor Meghann Jackson from London Rowing Club.

Meghann commented that it “definitely helped to give us all a bit of motivation to train in smaller boats together throughout the summer, enjoy the water and have a bit of a focus… and not have to worry about literally freezing our socks off waiting on the start like other years when the race was in December.”

This event is run with thanks to the countless volunteers from Vesta, surrounding clubs, and British Rowing Official Umpires. Vesta are proud and grateful to all who took to the water, the stopwatches and the bar, to manage the running of the event safely and fairly for all competitors as they completed one of the toughest sculling races in the world.

Vesta are looking forward to welcoming back all of this year’s entries and many more competitors for the 2022 race, so be ready to stock up on those mooring snacks and less on those layers!

Click here for the full list of results.

Thanks to Francesca Lidlow for the report. 

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