All Amy Winehouse at the 2018 Head of the Charles

They should have played Back to Black after the Head of the Charles finished this year. The 4 Molesey boats sent down 12864 big, black, puddles that made the opposition crews look like they’d been swamped in the finest crude ….sorry Donald but there was no “America First” in any of the events we were in J. MBC came home with 2 wins, 1 second and an 8th place. The group raced 142 crews and 134 were left painted black.

50s 8+ ( reporter Ian McNuff)

Martin Haycock (c), Tom Solesbury (s), Ed Bellamy, Dave Gillard, Ian McNuff, Guy Pooley, Harvey Worden, Clive Roberts, Richard Shirley (b)

The 50s 8 headed to Boston with a fit, injury free crew, and Richard’s speed data capture thing that he wears showed encouraging and improving pace in training pieces. Race day saw challenging conditions with swirling winds that meant during the race, headwind then tailwind, then stronger headwind was the order of the day. The discussion about rig was quick and to the point…leave it all to human adjustment.

Starting bow number 2 against 62 other boats, we settled into a lively, solid 33/34. At the Weld timing point around 8 minutes 30 in (just over halfway) Marin, who had started at number 1, were 0.2 secs up. Martin’s calm , reassuring tones kept demanding more and as the headwind strengthened over the second half of the course, it developed into who would yield first in this relentless slugfest. Into the last 2 minutes the only way was up…..35/36/37/38 and then 39 as all the MBC beasts were unleashed. We won by 5.5 seconds and set a new course record – we think it was the only one set over the weekend so if you find one another please don’t tell me.

Marin were second and had swept the board at the US Masters Championships a couple of weeks earlier. By all accounts they run a programme in terms of numbers of athletes and sessions per week that Jurgen would be proud of. They were very worthy competition – respect - and although third placed Kent Mitchell were some 20 seconds back they moved ominously up the field from bow number 10. For 2019 we’ve no doubt the arms race will continue.

50s 4+ (Reporter Matt Brittin)

Jen Wainer (c) Matt Brittin (s) Toby Backhouse, Tom Anderson, Farrell Mossop (b)

Starting as a new entry at bow number 42, this was a pressure test for the crew - passing many slower boats, managing back injuries, coping with swirling winds, and above all avoiding swearing-related time penalties.

There was no voice so polite or as assertive as MBC favourite Jen Wainer's cut-glass British accented coxing. "I say, bowman, tell your cox to move to starboard. NOW, I'M NOT JOKING". This as we overtook about 20 crews, many of them in a single raft around the outside of our tight course at Weeks Bridge. Winds, wake and passing all those crews made it a challenging row - but the weeks of preparation at Molesey had built a solid foundation of speed for what on paper wasn't the most natural four.

Hammering along rating 32-34, some good speed through the first half of the course had Molesey on the winning pace. Being stuck behind a crew around the bend at Cambridge Boat Club unsettled and slowed the speed just as the legs were getting to their limits. Then a final lung bursting push to the line. Silver medal (after Marin were penalised for taking an illegal inside bend) a decent result and a strong position to start for the 2019 campaign.

40s 4+ (Reporter James Wright)

Adrian Ellison (c), Artour Samsanov (s), James Wright, Tom Middleton, Andrew Brennan (b)

The campaign began with a few bumpy rides at Molesey but we were just starting to click on our final training weekend. With Adrian keeping us honest with the 500m split times required to win, we travelled to Boston in hope as we had hit them now and again, but not consistently enough to be assured of our speed.

We did some nervous tinkering on our Resolute shell after each paddle in Boston. Adrian’s spidey senses were on high alert, as he judged the canard fin to be ‘not quite right’, it was indeed 2 degrees out and he made the necessary adjustments with the strings. Andrew, with the best strength and fitness in the boat, accepted a harder gearing to get the maximum puddle on the end of the blade. Tom applied the ‘lucky white tape’ for a hint less pitch and James moved his feet around several times and ultimately returned to where he started. Artie, elevated both his gate height and lucky Molesey socks.

Starting with bow no.2, Artie hared off the start and we managed to creep past the first boat away in the first few minutes. But we knew there were strong crews to follow later in the order - a former US team crew and a well-tuned Crabtree (Cambridge old boys) crew.

Adrian’s precise steering had the buoys sliding against the shell for the tightest line and his phenomenal calls kept us right on the red line. Andrew made the most of the gearing and sent super charged puddles down the length of the course. Tom maintained both relentless length and power. James tried to keep a hint of length, whilst also endeavouring to stay on the same stroke as Artie, who powered us down the last straight and through the finish line. The tanks were truly emptied.

The charge to the finish proved decisive, 14 seconds ahead of the second placed crew, Club Nautico de San Juan and 24 seconds ahead of Crabtree BC in third. The honour is ours for a year, before our mettle is tested again, to show our worth against some of the very best crews.

40s 8 (Reporter Jonny Searle) Sam Burroughs (c), Jonny Searle, Malcolm McGowan, Adam Pearson, Fraser Brown ,Paul Wright, Frank Rowe, Colin Scott, Hugh Pelham

The 40s eight was a crew made up primarily of new blood who haven't raced the HOCR before, and who were slightly older than the 40 year average cut off would have permitted (in fact 10 years older!). A number were brought out of their racing slumber and hurled straight into the deep end with a starting bow number of 2.

We trained pretty regularly at Molesey in preparation for the trip, and we were supported by a regular group of super-subs not coming to Boston, who actively helped in developing the crew. It was enough to establish a technical approach that we were happy with, and to develop a good level of trust in our ability to race hard and at our limits.

We had a good race and stayed on the boat and in good form for the whole course which was clear in the race pictures that showed the crew well together. We had targeted a top ten finish so finishing 8th was a pleasing outcome to add to a great row.

The after party and thanks

Some of our number love the Charles so much that they took to the water again on Sunday afternoon to race the Directors’ Double Sculls events for a parent/child combo. The Gillards, the Pooleys and the Pearsons all stormed the course to finish 4th, 5th and 7th out of a field of xxx. The Leg-End development group is coming on well.

The group’s celebration for most stretched through Saturday evening into Sunday late afternoon. There were no recorded ejections from the bars of Boston or Cambridge this year, but there was;

  • Conclusive proof of the correlation between the rising volume of a person’s voice to the amount of alcohol consumed and……

  • Their ability to talk without hesitation, interruption or deviation on their chosen topic even if the audience only had a passing interest in it.

  • You feel cool in a black Uber 7 seater Dodge Durango playing AC/DC – make sure you try it.

All troops are now safely back in the UK but there were a few who were clearly auditioning for the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan as they were missing in action for extended periods claiming various excuses.

A big leg –end thanks to Ali, Phil and Stew for the support in terms of boats and coaching pointers. To Hudson and Resolute for their excellent boats and real enthusiasm and support to ensuring we took to the water with exactly what we needed to do the job. And this year a special thanks to the Head of the Charles organising group who swung into action when one of our number had a nasty allergic reaction and needed to be hospitalised. We all like to think we will be well looked after if something untoward like that happens but to see it in action with genuine care and concern for one of our number was heart-warming and much appreciated….Big Leg – end respect…thank you.

246 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Deputy Head Junior Coach, Molesey Boat Club Salary Range : £17k - 24k p.a., depending on experience Hours : typically 35-40 hours per week including ten coached sessions, but these may vary depending