AN ARMADA of 204 boats from 27 clubs launched out in sunshine for the Monmouth Winter Head of the River Race – the last big race of 2014.
Monmouth School took three titles over the 2,200m downstream time-trial, while sister school Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls took two, including the pennant for the fastest women’s boat of the day.
Monmouth Comprehensive School GB junior cap Emily Richards added the fastest women’s singles pennant to the one she won in September’s Autumn Head, while Monmouth RC landed two quadruple scull classes, including the elite title in the second fastest time of the day.
A stiff headwind in Division One made for tough going as Monmouth School’s eight of Sam White, Digby Brereton, Archie Hilder, Max Weedon, Harris Webb, Harry Bridges, Rory Booth, Rory Freeman and cox Huw Sparkes headed the field to take the Intermediate 3 title in six minutes 58 seconds, 13 and 15 seconds up respectively on nearest rivals Nottingham and Swansea universities.
Not to be outdone Haberdashers’ Aoife Gray, Jo Frankel, Hannah Lincoln, Emily Strawbridge, Charlotte Gill, Pippa England, Emma Richardson, stroke Gabby Du Toit and cox Hannah Green raced over in 7.33 to take the women’s IM3 title by more than half a minute from Surrey and City of Bristol.
Their time proved quicker than Cardiff University’s women’s elite 8 in by five seconds to give them the overall fastest women’s pennant.
GB world junior finalist and last year’s Monmouth School head boy Will England teamed up with fellow Old Monmothian Dan Waters to take the IM1 pairs crown in 7.48, quicker than several eights, while the school’s Ollie Jones and Ollie Smith took the U15 doubles title in 8.29 by 18 seconds from Stoke-based Trentham.
OM Alex Butler was just seven seconds off taking the elite singles title, which saw City of Bristol’s Aaron Pascovitch take the overall men’s singles pennant in 8.12.
Conditions eased in Division 2, as Butler joined Monmouth RC’s Mark Stewart-Woods and Oli Partridge, plus Gloucester’s Ben Rodford to take men’s quads by 20 seconds from Stourport in 6.41.
Nottingham University’s elite 8 in 6.33 just pipped them to the fastest men’s boat pennant, with Monmouth School’s elite 8 close behind in 6.46 and Swansea University in 6.50.
HMSG’s Richardson, Strawbridge, Gill, England and cox Green set the fastest women’s four time of 7.51 to add a second WIM3 class title.
European junior team gold medallist Emily Richards, 17, was on fire again to set the fastest women’s singles time by nearly a minute in 8.16, only a second back on Monmouth RC’s junior girls’ quad scull.
The club’s own boys’ novice quad scull of Caerleon Comprehensive School pupils Arran Davies, James Allott, Tom Dean, Oliver Johnson plus cox Gail Adams landed their class title just half a second on time behind the girls.
Trentham proved the biggest winners with nine class wins. Clubs from as far afield as Cornwall, Oxford, London and the East Midlands attended the event.
Full results can be found at www.monmouthrc.org.uk