On Sunday 29th March a good crowd of HCBC supporters gathered in the shelter of the Blue Anchor pub, Hammersmith to watch the Men’s Head of the River and support the Hertford crew. With the wind rather gusty and start time delayed by half an hour it was was a relief to see the first crews row past Hammersmith Bridge and even more of a relief to be doing so from the comfort of the pub! Next years race is provisionally scheduled for Saturday 19th March 2016 @ 13:45 so put the date in your diaries.
We were greeted at Hammersmith by grey skies, drizzle and a blustery wind. The expectation was for exceptionally tricky conditions once the tide turned, so it was pleasantly surprising when we pushed off into only slightly choppy water. A paddle to Chiswick Bridge and it wasn’t long before we were tucked into the bank and waiting, watching the hundreds of other crews gather around us. The scale of the occasion is really brought home as you watch the big boys of Leander I chug serenely past, hotly pursued by the slightly less magnificent Hexham III.
After an hour or so of tapping up and refilling water bottles with a more sinister liquid, we span and began the journey towards Putney Bridge. We made a solid start, immediately beginning to close on the crew ahead, Hatfield College, Durham. They were eventually overtaken after Barnes Bridge, but not before they had hogged the stream for far longer than was polite. Spurred on by encouraging shouts from the Blue Anchor, we pushed through Hammersmith Bridge and round the bend towards Craven Cottage. This section is where the conditions were most challenging; a very strong headwind and bouncier water. It didn’t stop us quickly overtaking another two flagging crews though, all before the black buoy. With the finish not far away we managed to take the rate up and crossed the line in just over nineteen and a half minutes.
Given that Sunday was the first time the crew had rowed together, 144th represents a good result. It’s pleasing to beat most of our Oxford colleagues, all but Pembroke and Oriel on this occasion. Wadham were slower, a promising sign as they lie ahead on day one of Summer Eights (division two row over permitting).