Leander overcome tricky conditions to secure head of the river crown
FIVE Leander crews competed in Sunday’s Head of the River Race, where the club’s first crew
FIVE Leander crews competed in Sunday’s Head of the River Race, where the club’s first crew won the overall head title and all five finished in the top 20.
With the 2013 race called off, and last year’s event abandoned after half an hour, it was touch and go whether this year’s event would go ahead. But with south-westerly gales blowing down the course the start was delayed by 30 minutes and Molesey, the fastest of last year’s finishers, led the 330 boat flotilla off the start.
Hot on their heels was the leading Leander crew, with five world champions on board, including club captain Alex Gregory, and Will Satch at stroke. As the results became clear the Leander winning time was 16 seconds clear of Molesey – one of the most decisive margins in the history of the event.
Behind the leaders was a private tussle behind Leander II â?? composed of GB international scullers â?? and Leander III, which included contenders for this year’s Ladies’ Plate at Henley.
Leander III just edged it on time, two seconds ahead of their clubmates with the two eights finishing fifth and sixth overall.
Just missing a place in the top 10 by only three seconds was Leander IV, the club’s lightweight eight, with two senior GB internationals on board – Jamie Kirkwood and Jono Clegg. Starting in the number 27 slot the crew made ground fast and overtook two crews before the halfway mark, going on to win the lightweight class pennant.
Leander V included the budding young athletes hoping to contest the Thames Cup at Henley in just three months’ time. Starting down the order at number 77 they faced challenging conditions as the wind freshened but went on to earn themselves a top 20 place just 0.04 seconds ahead of next-placed Imperial College.
The four-and-a-quarter mile time trial down the reverse Boat Race course between Mortlake and Putney marks the end of the long distance winter training period and Leander coaches were understandably elated at the results.
Speaking after the race Leander’s chief coah Mark Banks said: “It was an outstanding day, and an exceptional set of results.
“Not only did our first crew go head, but this was the first time Leander has ever finished with every crew in the top 20.
“It’s a real credit to the athletes, and to the hard work they have been putting in through the winter,” he said.