WINS by Leander’s lightweight men’s and women’s quads could not hide the disappointment when the club’s leading heavyweight crew saw the overall title slip from their grasp at the fours head held on the Thames from Mortlake to Putney Saturday.
With all their GB internationals allowed to return to their clubs for the event, albeit for the shortest time possible, hopes were high that Leander could go some way to match last year’s results, when four of their crews finished in the top five.
But Tideway Scullers School, based in Chiswick, were eager to avenge their two-second defeat at last year’s race and brought together four of the best scullers in the world. They included world champion Ondrej Synek alongside Valentin Sinkovic of Croatia, Alexander Alexandrov of Azerbaijan and GB Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell.
For their part the Leander crew included double Olympic medallist Matt Langridge, world and Olympic champion Alex Gregory, world bronze medallist Charles Cousins and Henley winner Jonny Walton. Tideway Scullers overtook Leander before the crews reached Chiswick Eyot and cruised home to record victory by a margin of 24 seconds.
But the Leander lightweight quad, including Sam Mottram, Don Evans and Chris Boddy were stroked by GB lightweight single sculler Jamie Kirkwood. Starting in 16th place overall they used the perfect racing conditions to their advantage, moving up to sixth place overall and winning their event a clear 12 seconds faster than second placed Imperial College.
There was another strong performance in the coxless fours from four more Leander lightweights, all of whom had won bronze medals as members of the GB team at the recent world championships in South Korea. Stroke Richard Chambers rowed with his brother in the double sculls, while Jono Clegg, Will Fletcher and Chris Bartley competed in the lightweight fours. But with no lightweight pennant available at the fours head they were forced to race heavyweight opposition and only missed the title by four seconds behind Molesey, who won the class pennant.
Four more GB international made their presence felt in the women’s quads where the leading Leander crew were stroked by Vicky Thornley, alongside GB double Frances Houghton and Vicky Meyer-Laker, together with world junior singles champion Jess Leyden.
The foursome romped home a clear 20 seconds faster than the second Leander quad stroked by newly-crowned world champion Polly Swann.
In the men’s coxed fours it was the Oxbridge crews, preparing for next year’s Boat Race, who retained their customary dominance, with Leander placed third, despite boating four world champions from the GB men’s eight.
After the races the double Olympic champion took to Twitter where he tweeted: “Simply not good enough. We were stomped on by Oxford and kicked a bit by Cambridge too. Well done those crews.”