Saturday March 15th, was a bright, sunny if somewhat breezy day, and saw Sudbury Rowing Club descend upon the River Thames for the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race. Hopes were high within the club that this could produce the best ever result for a Sudbury crew in this race.
With this in mind, there were a few nerves but confidence was high. The crew of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Laurel Ost, Claire Everest, Vicky Leonard, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Julie Sutton and Susie Moule with Antony Moule coxing, boated early at Hammersmith for a controlled, relaxed row down to the start at Mortlake. Setting off 91st of 262 boats, Sudbury got off to a flying start rating 36 strokes per minute. They quickly gained on a Durham University crew, overtaking them within the first ¼ mile of this 4¼ mile race. Leaving them behind, they were then hard on the heels of the Parrs Priory crew. Drawing almost level, there was some jockeying for position to maintain the best line in the fast flowing stream, and some firm calling from the Sudbury cox finally persuaded the opposition to move over sufficiently for them both to be able to get through Barnes Bridge. Having overtaken Parrs Priory, the Sudbury eight pushed on again to catch the next boat, a crew from Thames Rowing Club who would be more experienced in these rough conditions. Cox Antony continually called for more power, and with a positive response every time, the crew soon overtook Thames.
Taking the long bend at Chiswick Eyot and racing towards the Sudbury supporters at Hammersmith, it was here that the crew hit the roughest water. Rowing with the stream but against a head wind, conditions were particularly difficult for Sudbury after training on the relative calm of the River Stour. Coping well, keeping together and rating 30 strokes per minute, they started to make headway on a Cambridge crew some 10-15 lengths in front of them. Spurred on by both cox and supporters the Sudbury women overtook the crew from Cantabrigians Rowing Club before reaching Fulham and then pushed on towards the finish. The rate increased to 34½ strokes per minute and Sudbury crossed the finishing line at Putney in a time of 22:54.13. This gave them a finishing position of 81st out of 262 overall, 10th out of 59 club Senior 3 and 20th out of a total of 117 Senior 3 crews, which included University entries.
This is the highest ever finish position achieved by a Sudbury crew and shows considerable promise for the women’s squad in the forthcoming Regatta season.