Winter has come, the sun has vanished, and grey skies overhead are par of the course. Time trials on winding rivers up and down the country are the flavour of the season. With the Fours Head – one of several nationally-recognised headships on the championship Thames course been and gone, we thought we’d take a look at some provincial events that provide a great environment to blow out some cobwebs and prepare for sunnier climes and regatta racing.
Region: North East
Date: Saturday, 3 December 2022
A favourite among the big Northern collegiate programs, Rutherford attracts suitors from all over the country. The event last ran in early 2022, a couple of months after its usual slot in late November, and crews from Edinburgh, Newcastle, Agecroft, Tideway Scullers School and City of Cambridge made a play for silverware. It’s arguably the last big event before Christmas and gives competitors the chance to take bragging rights into a new year.
Peterborough Head of the Nene
Date: Saturday, 4 February 2023
Held on the River Nene over three divisions and two distances (2600m for divisions 1 and 2 and then a 5000m stretch for the final tranche), this event provides a great barometer for who got the miles in over the Christmas period and who probably spent more time on the mince pies and mulled wine. Peterborough Rowing Club are blessed in that they have a smaller, purpose-built lake next to their boathouse to accompany the long stretch of water that the Nene provides. The event has suffered with numerous cancellations in recent years – including in 2022 when a malfunction at the Dog and Doublet sluice gate resulted in the river emptying – but when it runs, it’s a great competition.
Warrington Head of the Mersey
Region: North West
Date: Sunday, 12 February 2023
A river that needs no cultural introduction, given its strong affiliation with The Beatles, the city of Liverpool, and Anfield Stadium, Warrington’s cornerstone head race consists of two 1800m laps of a stretch upstream of the rowing club. Warrington are a centre with a proud tradition of producing quality athletes and engaging actively with the local community and their head attracts entries from across the North of England including Leeds, Northwich, Bradford, Grosvenor, Trafford and Runcorn.
Greenwich Head of the River
Region: Thames South East
Date: Sunday, 12th February 2023
If Warrington and the delights of the Mersey don’t do enough to get the blood flowing, perhaps Greenwich Head of the River might tickle your fancy. The Greenwich Head is believed to be the oldest Head race on the Thames, having been inaugurated in 1948, and remains the only Head race rowed downstream of Tower Bridge. Organised by the Blackwall, Poplar and District Rowing Club (BPDRC), the Greenwich Head is raced over 3.5 miles of tidal water from Wapping Pier to Poplar Rowing Club. Entry is open to all categories of Fours, Quads, Eights and Coastal crews.
Inverness Winter Head
Date: Saturday, 4th/5th March 2023
On their website, Inverness Rowing Club boldly claim to have ‘probably the best water in Scotland (if not the UK)’. To find out, you’ll need to travel up to Scotland and blast 4.5km on the Caledonian Canal. The event is usually dominated by domestic crews, and it was St Andrew Boat Club of Edinburgh who seemed to be in pole position more often than most in 2022. The event even had a dedicated food menu last year, which surely warrants a place on the list by that virtue alone.
Words by Junior Rowing News
Photo by A Blind Photographer