Downing Dominate At Head Of The River

Downing stormed to a remarkable 67th place at Saturday’s Head of the River Race, as a much-fancied FaT crew slipped way off the pace.

college rowing downing rowing fat rowing Fitz head of the river horr Jesus rowing LMBC

Downing stormed to a remarkable 67th place at Saturday’s Head of the River Race, as a much-fancied FaT crew slipped way off the pace.

The race, staged over the Boat Race course (backwards), is the main focus of the year for clubs from Britain and beyond, and despite the 400 places on offer, is always massively over-subscribed, as Caius found out when they missed the deadline by a couple of hours and got told where to go by the organisers. Unlucky boys – sort out the admin next year.

This, however, was Downing’s day, as the crew which had pushed FaT so close on the last day of Lents finally showed just what they are capable of. Having spent the week on the Tideway preparing for the race, the crew sure enough delivered, finishing an astonishing 46 places ahead of the next-quickest Cambridge college (Catz in 113th ).

Indeed, the Tideway was buzzing with crews who had travelled down for some practice outings in the days leading up to the race, including the Cambridge and Oxford crews, busy preparing for this weekend’s Boat Race. Molesey, the club who beat both Blue Boats in practice fixtures last week, defeated their old rivals Leander to win Head of the River.

Overall race winner Molesey stroked by Cambridge legend Tom James, with former Light Blue Tom Ransley behind him.

As CUBC quietly went about their business, dazzling Cambridge-blue wellies and all (watch out for them, they’re pretty hideous), Oxford confirmed the fact that they are all massive losers. Opening the windows of their base-camp and allowing, among other R&B classics, that well-known Alicia Keys erg-tune, Empire State of Mind, to blare out, an incredibly annoying American voice (presumably that of Adam Barhamand, their cox) proceeded to talk them through their erg as if it were the race itself.

Not a bad idea if you’re into visualisation and all that. Less good when you scream embarrassing ‘motivational’ calls about “shattering the Tabs’ dreams” to everyone within 200 yards. Grow up. No-one’s scared of you mate, you’re 5 ft 9 and your chief achievement in life is getting your weight down under 9 stone.

LMBC were the third placed Cambridge college crew in 129th place, behind Downing and Catz.

Ok, tangent over. Back to the race in hand, LMBC (129th), Pembroke (141st), Peterhouse (146th), Jesus (161st), and King’s (164th) all showed how close it’s been among the leading colleges recently. Yet it was Fitz, fourth-quickest college in 133rd, who caused the real shock. After a woeful term, they must have had a few big-guns come back, but in any case, it’s a remarkable result. Hats off to them.

FaT, meanwhile, finished 154th, way down on their top 60 finish of last year. Race reports have suggested possible timing errors, yet could it be that their stranglehold on Cambridge rowing is slipping? Caius are coming in Mays, boys – you’d better sharpen up.

Peterhouse finished in 146th just 30 places higher than they managed last year

And that was pretty much that. Except for those who decided on a cheeky after-party too. I won’t name and shame, but one blond LMBC rower, red blazer and all, was seen on the verge of passing out in a corner of Thames Rowing Club as another, who is reasonably good in a scull, desperately tried to wake him. The pair eventually stumbled off, mumbling incoherently, veering along the pavement in a seemingly random direction.

Meanwhile, one northern Jesus rower mysteriously disappeared after being sighted squatting various party-goers in the middle of the dancefloor. He was later discovered to have spent half the night on a park bench before switching to the comfort of the Thames changing rooms. Suitably loose celebrations.

Overall though, a successful day for the Cambridge colleges, and a great precursor to next weekend’s Boat Race…. Come on boys, smash the scum.

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