Records tumble as Leander Club dominate the 2022 Fours Head
Fast conditions lead to a thrilling day of racing on the Tideway, as 10 out of 12 course records were broken, with some having previously stood for 24 years
Championship events: a full house for Leander
Leander Club were the dominant force in this year’s race, taking home all six of the Championship events. The Open Championship 4+ contained two world champions and two bronze medalists from this year’s World Rowing Championships in Račice and faced strong competition from reigning champions, Oxford Brookes University, and Cambridge University.
In the club’s winning Women’s Championship 4+, three members of the Tokyo Olympic women’s eight came together with a European silver medalist and the gold-medal winning cox from this year’s PR3 4+. Their time of 19:53.7 broke the longest standing course record, which had previously been set by Queen’s Tower BC and Marlow RC in 1998.
“It’s always a great feeling to set off first”
Fresh off winning a silver medal in the same boat class at the World Championships, George Bourne stroked his quad to victory in a very tight race over the Leander second quad. Their time of 17:28.4 was the fastest time of the day but was not able to eclipse the course record set by Tideway Scullers School in 2006.
After the race Bourne said: “It felt awesome to be back at The Fours Head and it’s always a great feeling to set off first and come out on top! It was my first race for Leander, and it felt great to be part of such a successful day for the club. I want to say a particular well done to the second Leander quad for a huge effort and great race, but it was a great job well done across the whole club.”
The Leander women’s quad, containing two athletes from the GB Rowing Team’s women’s sculling squad, prevailed over Tideway Scullers School. Who themselves had both members of the British Women’s 2x and a late replacement to the stroke seat in Imogen Grant, the reigning world champion in the Lightweight Women’s 2x.
There was another Leander one-two finish in the Open Championship 4- with the winning crew containing two world championship gold medalists from the British men’s eight coming out on top over their club counterparts. Leander also won the Women’s Championship 4-, with their crew of club-based athletes beating Thames RC, overturning the result from the final of the Wargrave Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta this summer.
Henley RC dominate Women’s School/Junior events
In the School/Junior category, Henley RC achieved a similar feat as their women’s junior squad took a clean sweep of all three events. In the open events, the wins went to Leander (O Sch/Jun 4x), St Paul’s (O Sch/Jun 4+) and Radley (O Sch/Jun 4-).
Club and Academic events shared more widely
In the club events wins stayed mostly close to home, with Thames RC picking up three victories in the Open 4-, Women’s Club 4+ and Women’s Club 4-. Their rivals from the other end of the Putney Embankment, London RC, took home two wins in the Open Club 4+ and Open Club 4x. Upper Thames RC won the final club event in the Women’s Club 4x.
For the academic events, Reading University BC were the dominant sculling force, taking home wins in both the Open and Women’s Academic 4x. The dark and light blues shared out three of the remaining four events, with Cambridge taking wins in both the Open and Women’s Academic 4+, whilst the Oxford Lightweights won the Open Academic 4-. The University of London, who entered the race for the first time in several years, got their hands on the Women’s Academic 4-.
“I would like to thank the 100 plus volunteers, without whom there would be no Fours Head”
Reflecting on the race, Fours Head Chairman Richard Phelps commented: “Given all the challenges with entries, weather and, at the last minute, fast stream, we are thrilled that the race went ahead as planned with 468 crews racing. Even better, is that 10 course records were broken and, aside minor broken equipment, the day was incident free. The Committee work hard all year to make this happen and it’s very satisfying when it all comes together. Providing a safe race for over 2000 competitors in the space of three hours makes us all very proud. I would like to thank the 100 plus volunteers, without whom there would be no Fours Head. And now we all look forward to the prize giving party.”
This year’s event also marked the last as entries secretary for Richard du Parq from Cygnet RC, who has served on the committee for 18 years. The race committee would like to express their gratitude to Richard for his incredible support.
Next year’s race will take place on Sunday, 5 November 2023.