Skip to content

Mr McRae leads Saints to equal its longest winning streak under a single coach, but we saved that until the end; like the weather the racing heated up through the day.

You have had to be a patient Rowing or Intercol supporter waiting for the Head of the River to return to full strength, but it was worth it. The melee was back shoreside at West Lakes. So many summer school uniforms mingled with the blue and white Rowing kit; but there weren’t many dry clothes going home. Chants returned, the beach was invaded, banners were out, tents were packed, the towpath was impassable – it was a great atmosphere.

Tom Parkinson opened our racing account in the single. Tom was only passed fit to race on Thursday so his start was a bit rusty and he couldn’t quite recover the lead he had conceded to finish second.

Of our twenty three crews racing only three crews finished outside the medals (awarded for second year) and one of them was by 0.24”.

It is tough on the Year 8 students to come up against a particularly strong PAC cohort.  Our A crew came so close to snatching victory, 0.77”, and it was especially impressive to see Sam Lake (Year 8) back in the stroke seat after almost removing his thumb with the garage door.

Hugo Wurm’s Year 9 E crew; Louis Brook, Alex Lippett, Will George, Will Foreman and Will Roger turned the tide for St Peters College leading their final with winning F, G and H crews. In slow conditions Messrs Beresford and Tucker’s squad did well to register PBs for all crews.

Jock Burton picked up a trophy for his winning Year 10D crew. The Inters’ squad picked up two silvers and a 6th place to add to the D’s win.

The seniors’ racing opened with two good wins for our fours. We had thought these events would be closely contested and both crews produced good times in the conditions to win. The Mighty Digby was just over a length off finishing fifth in the 1st VIII’s final, coming in as the fastest 3rd VIII afloat.

We knew the Blackburn had to get everything right to pull off a win over their arch rivals. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. It is a tribute to the coaching team’s skills that their track record made us believe the Blackburn could have been 2.75” faster.

So, we came to the last race of the day, the crowds pushed onto the beaches to catch a glimpse of the approaching crews, the chanting of the boys took over from the girls and the commentary was drowned out. Out of sight at the start we made a tense start and were led by PAC. Not an unusual situation but it won’t have calmed the nerves. By 500m they had knocked themselves into Rowing as a crew and their rhythm began to tell. By 800m they were level and by the time we could see the crew they knew what they were doing and moving away.

They must have felt the pressure of expectation, but Mr McRae’s careful and meticulous preparation paid off and the crew came good when it mattered. There are many good reasons why other coaches haven’t managed as long a winning streak, especially from the start of your career. It was gracious of Mr McRae to pay tribute to his office neighbour and former Director of Rowing, Steve Perry, in his speech that night. He, also noted how much we have all relied on Tom Beresford through this season.

To view the gallery of photos from the Head of the River and The Head of the River Dinner and Presentation click here.

Wade Hall-Craggs
Head of Rowing