With beautiful weather throughout the day, Cambridge Small Boats Head was a fine start to this year’s head race season. Held 6 October over the usual 2600 metre upstream head race course on the Cam, Events Secretary Anna-Rosa’s expert planning and logistics ensured that the day was a great success. Chairman Andy Turnbull reported a 30% increase on entries, from local to national clubs, with one competitor racing for an Irish boat club.

Fastest crew was composite BR Elite 2x John Hale from Cantabs and Don Evans from Queens University Belfast Boat Club with a time of 10:05 (also second fastest at 10:10 as BR IM1 2x)
If Cambridge Small Boat Head entries are representative of a national trend for 2012, pairs racing seems to be de rigueur, with 18 pairs crews competing this year compared to just eight pairs entries for 2011.

Perhaps the GB Olympic gold for Women’s pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning and bronze for men’s pair George Nash and Will Satch have been inspirational? New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, who have been dominating men’s pairs racing for four years, tallied 37 international wins when they won gold at London, racing 2km in 6:08.5, cutting six seconds off James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsett’s 2002 world record. On reflection, Bond admits, ‘At times you don’t enjoy the grind of day-to-day training, but when you look back, that is where true satisfaction comes from, not the golden moments at the end.’ (Fairfax NZ News, 4/8/12)
Fastest pair at the Cambridge Small Boats Head was IM3 2- Haynes and McPhail of Downing College BC with a time of 11:10. Enya Meadows and new Robs member Rachel Saunders formed the only Robs pair racing on the day, completing the course in 13:53.
RRBC won in six categories:

  • Fastest club crew was J18 2x Alex Martin and Angus MacDonald, who won their event (7 crews competing) in 11:23 and were also fourth fastest crew of the day.
  • Ed Parkhouse won Nov 1x (9 crews competing) in 12:09
  • Amy Bland and Molly Shaw won WJ17 2x (easy win out of 4 crews competing) in 12:40
  • Hamish McLuskie won J17 1x (5 crews competing) in 13:14. He placed 3rd out of 9 crews racing J16 1x with a time of 13:10
  • Katie Brown and Bethan Jones won WJ15 2x (4 crews competing) in 13:36 (their first race win and only their second race J )
  • Pernille Nielsen won WJ15 1x (4 crews competing) in 14:17 (her first race and, had she entered the WJ16 1x, her time would have won that event too)

Tankards were awarded for both fastest CRA and fastest BR entries, maximising prize-giving and encouraging more future entries from both local first-time racers as well as schools and clubs coming from a distance. Kings School Canterbury sent a strong contingent this year, winning seven events compared with just one win on the day last year.
Men’s Masters and Junior squad each entered several single scullers for their first race. It was the first race in his own Fillipi for Rob Oeffner, so steep learning curve. Ollie Griffin enjoyed his first singles race as did Dave Potts and new Robs member David Dix. Ollie said afterwards that he was pleased to complete the race without capsizing or crashing, but David Dix was this year’s Master’s wild card. Powering past three other singles in the club’s big Magnus Senex, he then jostled for a time alongside J16 Hamish McLuskie, overtaking in the final run up and passing another junior just before the finish line.‘That was great!’he declared just after finishing, clearly keen for more racing.
Juniors Callum Taylor, Tom Clements and Julia Cuihak all experienced their first single scull race, while J Potter, A Smith, Katie Brown and Bethan Jones enjoyed double scull races.
Many Robs members forwent an opportunity to race in order to help marshal and time. The start was smoothly run by a team including Andy Turnbull, Claire Allen, Matt Castle, Susannah Clements, Anton Wright, Madison Koesterman, Mattie Rutter, Amy Bland and Max and Milly Martin supplemented with other junior helpers over various divisions.
Marshaling along the course were Kim Rutter, Rob Best, Brett Saunders, Paul Wilkins, Pete Shiels, Amy Bland, Ondrej, Ollie Griffin, Ed Parkhouse, Dave Potts, Andrea Bosnyak, Tom Davies, Enya Meadows, Rachel Saunders and Robbie Kiff.
The finish was manned throughout by Chris Parkhouse (who meticulously tested safety equipment) and Peta Parkhouse (who made lovely packed lunches for all who helped) and Lynn.
Rob Oeffner, Nikki Millar and Katherine Webster shared duties at Tesco Bridge.
Race control was a smooth operation led by Anna-Rosa, aided by Katherine Webster, Rasmus and Pernille Nielsen and Matt Castle.
We are all very grateful to Steven Andrews for providing First Aid cover throughout the day.
Huge thanks to all who helped make this day a proud one for RRBC.
Fastest single sculler was Downing boatman Ian Watson with a time of 11:27. While Watson’s race up the narrow Cam was in uninterrupted sunshine, Robs Elite Squad members Chris Covey (who completed last year’s SBH single scull event ahead of Watson in 10:35) and Stefan Graf (who was just behind Watson last year with a time of 11:06) were busy racing a rainy marathon on the wide and windy river Rhine.