St Neots Rowing Club had the honour of staging the first-ever Head of the East event last Sunday – and they enjoyed plenty of success as well.
The brand new event – jointly organised along with the Eastern Regional Rowing Council (ERRC) - attracted 124 crews from 16 clubs across East Anglia and London to the River Great Ouse.
They were timed over a 2.2km course with close competition and impressive performances in all categories despite strong winds making life difficult and forcing the new-to-rowing division to cancelled completely.
The St Neots men’s eight – Adam Williams, Tom Hetherington Huw Jarman, Max Taylor, Andrew Lawrence, Bryce Taylor, Dom Chapman, Fergus Mitchell-Dwelly and cox Mia Hartwell – set an early benchmark with a time of seven minutes, six seconds which set a course record and earned victory in their open category.
And most of the members of that crew won more silverware later in the day - Williams and Hetherington in the open coxless pairs category, and Chapman, Max Taylor, Bryce Taylor, Jarman and cox Ali Young in the open coxed fours category.
There was also success for some of the club’s more senior rowers as Stuart Williams and Jim Farrell won the Masters E/F/G double sculls category, while Graham Mailer, Mick Staddon, Steve Fox and Clive Emmerson, plus cox Adam Williams, won the Masters D/F coxed fours category. Both crews were celebrating their third consecutive victory so far in 2019.
The most successful clubs overall were Lea Rowing Club, from Hackney, London, and Peterborough City Rowing Club, whose members notched up an impressive six wins each.
“Huge congratulations go to everyone who won at this historic event for the eastern region,” said St Neots Rowing Club chairman Trevor Rickwood.
“We jumped at the chance to host the Head of the East when the ERRC was looking for a venue.
“It allowed us to run an event different from our own autumn head and summer regatta, and it was great to see some clubs taking part who don’t usually race at St Neots.
“We really hope it inspires other clubs in the region to do the same and that we can help turn the ERRC’s ambition to create an annual series of races into a reality.”
For Andrew Blit, Chairman of the ERRC, the event marked the culmination of months of planning and preparation.
He said: “It’s been an honour to run the inaugural Head of the East at St Neots. I’m incredibly grateful to the club and its members for all their hard work.
“We introduced the event to provide competition for the complete spectrum of rowers, and I’m delighted by the amount of really close racing we had on the day.”