This weekend, BROOKES|Students made history by winning the Head of the River for the first time, and claiming the University pennant in the process. Having come close a number of times, the Headship hasn’t been won by a full student crew for over 50 years.
Quoting British Rowing’s race report, “Leander started first, but it was clear from Hammersmith that Oxford Brookes were making the running. They had closed on #2 Molesey and had overtaken as they came to the start of the Fulham wall. The provisional results saw Oxford Brookes record their first ever headship in a time of 17 minutes and 34 seconds, nine seconds ahead of Leander. “This is a massive result for the club” said Director of Rowing Richard Spratley, “and it’s been a long time coming – we knew after racing Oxford that we were going well, and thought we might be able to get the win. But it’s a testament to the hard work of the whole squad that we have achieved it”. Chief Coach, Henry Bailhache-Webb said:
When I started coaching at Brookes, I said to Richard that I wanted to win the Head of the River – and to achieve it is huge.
The 2nd VIII won the Senior pennant, and retained 4th position on the river, remaining the highest-finishing Brookes 2nd VIII of all time. This crew comprised of current students and alumnus Alex Partridge, double Olympic medallist.
Brookes 3rd and 4th VIII’s also had fantastic results, with the 3rd’s maintaining 12th place following a very well-paced row, and the 4th VIII improving on last year’s position, to get 4 Brookes crews in the top 20, which is the most a single boat club has ever been able to do. The 5th VIII finished in 82nd, with the novice 6th VIII coming a respectable 121st.
Saturday’s racing was followed by a hugely-successful boat club dinner held at Phyllis Court Club, marking Richard Spratley’s 25th year with the Boat Club. He was presented the prestigious ‘Coach of the Year’ award by British Rowing’s Chairman Annamarie Phelps, and by GB Rowing lead coach Jürgen Grobler.
This caps off a fantastic head season for the Boat Club as a whole, with success at many head races, culminating in pennants and wins at Women’s Head and Men’s Head, as a testament to the constant progress the squads are making. Looking ahead to the Easter break, and further on to the first 2km race of the regatta season at BUCS, the Boat Club is very excited for more to racing to come.