Saturday 15th March saw a first for Curlew, with two crews taking to the tideway for the hotly anticipated (and nervously awaited) Women’s Eight Head of the River Race.
A few nights before over a diligently carb-loaded dinner, a veteran of the course had talked us through the 6.8km course which runs from Chiswick Bridge to Putney Pier – which as half of us had never raced the course before was invaluable preparation.
Boating in glorious sunshine from Westminster Boys School’s allowed us a long paddle up to the start line with plenty of time to take in the atmosphere of the only all ladies head race of the season. A blessing for the second VIII who experienced (in true Curlew style) a seat malfunction (disintegration) on the way up. However the day was saved by Tideway Scullers who stepped in with a replacement from the shore. The first VIII had a smoother journey to the start, settling the Hudson into it’s maiden race for the club.
After catching a glimpse of some amazing crews fly off the start, including Olympians Catherine Copeland, Helen Glover, Heather Stanning, and world champion Polly Swann competing in composite crews, both boat were raring to go – starting in positions 149 and 154 respectively.
The first VIII got off to a strong start, overtaking Avon County BC in the first 200m, setting us up for a long run with no other boats around. The second VIII set off with equal gusto and quickly stretched out into their stride along side Bristol City who gave the girls quite a battle between Barns Bridge and Hammersmith. Spurred on by the cheers from Hammersmith Bridge both crews set about the second half of the course with renewed vigour. With a crew sights of the first VIII, the ladies pushed through the straight down to the black buoy and in the final stretches overtook again a few meters from home. Both crews finished puffed out, elated, and very grateful for the short row back to the clubhouse.
1st VIII: Anita Jeff, Vicky Skinner, Laura Binns, Grace Stonehouse,Svenja Feix, Aanya Madhani, Amy Duval, Yvette Cook, (cox) Iona Tovey
Finished in 20:56.96 in 125th place overall, 40th in IM3
2nd VIII: Tiffany Morris, Cathy Hibbert, Meghan Rigby, Rachael Holley, Jenny Standfast, Jessica De Saint Paul, Desirée Ivegbuna, Bryony Mile, (cox) Maxine Livesey
Finished in 22:49.58 in 229th place overall