Scullers Head to Basel

Scullers Head to Basel - Square Blades

Photo Credit: Ben Rodford

This weekend sees Tideway Scullers continue their international exploits as they travel 11 hours to Switzerland to feature in this years' Basel Head (Mirabaud Classic long-distance chase).

Head coach, Kieran Clark, is taking three women's eights, and one men's eight, to race at a truly unique head event.

"According to Google maps, it will be between
9 and 11 hours of driving. We'll be leaving at
5am on Friday with plenty of good playlists lined up!"

The Blue Riband course is 6.4km in length, with CHF5000 (£3,900) as prize money for first place. However, it's not your standard time trial head race. 

Notwithstanding the prize money and racing against the continent's best crews, at the halfway mark, after going under 3 bridges in central Basel, the crews turn a full 180° and race back towards the start.

The timing isn't stopped, and the turn forms part of your overall time. 

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, there's also the "Three Kings" Sprint over 350 metres, which is carried out before the start of the main head race.

Prior to heading off to Switzerland we spoke to Kieran about the event...

SB: Why Basel Head?

KC: We love racing events that are different formats to the usual single straight line time trial. Last year we took an 8 to Switzerland for the X Row which was an incredible experience.

We also made the decision to start going further afield to find tough competition. TSS being on the start line of the Tideway championship course is great, but it is very easy for us to end up spending the majority of the winter exclusively on the same stretch of water we row on every day.

Weekends abroad, with a night out added in, are fantastic for team spirit and I feel our coaching team have a duty to make this sport as fun as we can.

SB: Turning an 8+, quickly? Have you got a strategy?

KC: After trying it out this weekend, I think we're all in agreement that it is very difficult to turn an 8 quickly! Its an easy part of the race to make mistakes, so we'll try not to stress over it too much. We might lose a few seconds there compared to crews that have done it before but there are plenty of other challenges to deal with along the course!

SB: Any crews you've got your eye on?

KC: There are some big-name clubs in the race and its really exciting to see 'TeamDeutschlandAchter' on the start list. We have a good idea where we stack up against the top US opposition after Head of the Charles, now we can see where we rank among some of the top crews on the continent. I like going into races with no preconceptions of where you should finish, the athletes can just enjoy the racing without too much pressure.

SB: How is the head season looking for the TSS crews?

KC: We've made a solid start to the year and I'm happy with how things have progressed so far, but training is always easy when its going well! There's a lot of racing planned in addition to what we've done already - I want to make sure the athletes are tested on a regular basis. We've set ourselves some tough targets for the Head season and we'll have a better idea by Christmas of where we stack up. Between HOCR, Basel, Fours Head, GB Trials, Wallingford and Rutherford, we get to race almost all of the top clubs in the UK.

SB: How have you found moving up to Head Coach?

KC: It's been an absolute dream, to be honest! Rowan Law is our new assistant coach and he's been an amazing addition to the team. Our priority was to start the season with the right individuals in the squad and do the basic stuff consistently really well. Everyone has bought into the programme and it's just a really enjoyable place to work right now. Granted its more hours, but when the athletes put so much in, they get so much more out of us as coaches.

Kieran Clark is Head Coach of Tide Way Scullers School. Square Blades sponsor the TSS Women's Squad.

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