Jonathan Williams reports on the WJ16 8+ at the Schools’ Head - from his bike!
This year saw the first-ever TSS girls' junior eight racing in the Schools' Head, with the J16s (Saskia, Isobel, Christa, Helena, Jenny, Kathleen, Katherine and Jackie, coxed by Essie) venturing into the fray. Recent results had been good, and in glimpses of them from the bank they had been looking superb, so hopes were high. The opposition was all around, with LEH right behind and Haberdashers’ Monmouth and Sir William Perkin’s just ahead. Kaarin Scanlan, their coach, just told them to row the best race they could, and they did.
On the day, the girls turned up with fantastic crew T-shirts and a banner was slung over the balustrade of Hammersmith Bridge by injured stroke Sophie. As they turned to start, the sun was shining and there was little wind: perfect racing conditions (as far as you ever get on the tideway). Kaarin had warned them that LEH would go off hard and try to pressure them into making a mistake. That was exactly what happened, but like true Tideway Scullers they held a calm and effective rhythm and LEH’s challenge faded by Barnes Bridge. When LEH duly ran out of ideas at the bandstand, Scullers could start to think about what was happening ahead, where Haberdashers’ Monmouth and Sir William Perkin’s were battling it out. At halfway they were level with SWPS and ahead of Monmouth.
At Hammersmith, buoyed up by their banner and the huge number of very noisy Scullers supporters on the bridge, the girls dug deep and pushed on for the end. For the next three minutes they lifted and began to reel SWPS in stroke by stroke. Cox Essie had done an excellent job so far, but she raised her game to another level and steered a faultless line when the river widened and coxes less familiar with the water began to wander around the river. At the milepost, the girls were clearly in command but continued to push to the line, and finished off an excellent performance that was a great credit to themselves and their coaches.
At the finish, your correspondent reckoned from his wristwatch timing they were quite emphatically the fastest crew, and so it proved. When the times came out, Scullers were ahead of the rest of the field by an astonishing 22 seconds, in a time of 19:35 - a great first race for a TSS junior women’s eight in the Schools Head.