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Brookes rowers impress on every front in #HORR dead heat with Leander

Yesterday was an impressive day for Oxford Brookes – not so much for the dead heat but for the fact that a university boat club has the depth of talent to place five crews in the top 17 finishers of the biggest men’s head race.  Although Brookes shared the headship with Leander, their second crew took third overall and their third crew won the University Pennant. Brookes fourth and fifth crews came seventh and fifth in the same class, with University of London second, Imperial College third and Edinburgh in fourth and Newcastle in sixth.

How times change though. In 2015, Leander won by a margin of 16 seconds from Molesey and Brookes. That year Leander had five crews in the top 20 including a lightweight eight, to Brookes’ three. In 2017 Leander fielded three crews to Brookes six, five finishing within top twenty and all within the top 34.

Brookes crew was based on the lineup that beat Cambridge last weekend. Matt Rowe, who is still 18 and stroked the GB J18 M8+ last year, came back into the bows after illness and Matthew Tarrant of the GB M4- and Michael Glover of the GB U23 M8+ were added to the roster. Matt Hnatiw and Gareth Syphas, both of whom were part of the Temple winning crew, were bumped into the second boat which came third. Speaking to WEROW after the event Hnatiw was totally unphased at moving boats and exemplified the squad’s “Brookes first” team attitude.

Oxford Brookes passing under Hammersmith Bridge at HORR2018

Matt Rowe, Michael Glover, Sam Nunn & Matthew Tarrant in the Brookes A boat at HORR2018

The winning time of 17:27.7 came after the head of the River showed a provisional finish time for Leander and Brookes separate by just one-tenth of a second. The final result was rounded to a dead heat on the basis that the crews could not be separated with 100% confidence. The splits were interesting though with Leander storming off the blocks, presumably in an attempt to intimidate Brookes who went off first. Leander led Brookes by 1.7 seconds at Barnes but by Hammersmith Brookes had taken a lead of 1.4 seconds.

Leander Club chief coach, Mark Banks told WEROW, “In my view when you are looking at a time within one-tenth of a second over 17 minutes then a dead heat is fair. Brookes have 5 boats in the top 20 which is outstanding and congratulations to their performances”. Despite not winning outright, Leander has much to celebrate as this year is the first time the club has won the men and women’s fours and eights heads (M4x, W4x, M8+ & W8+).

Brookes head coach, Henry Bailhache-Webb told WEROW, “We are thrilled to have retained the headship in such a brilliantly close-fought race.  I am particularly proud as 6 of the 8 rowers are still at the university balancing studies with training.

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For Bailhache-Webb the day’s achievements were reflected in the smile glued to Matt Rowe’s face on the trip home.  “Matt Rowe rowed at bow in the 1st eight and is only 18 years old. With 3 eights now in the top 5 places, this certainly has been our best year on record. Days like yesterday show how our club and training program is developing in order to produce athletes capable of rowing at this level and above. The desire and quality of the performances all of our athletes produce on a daily basis is really outstanding at the moment. We’re looking forward to summer racing and the work still left to do to make this a season to remember”.

It was undoubtedly a great weekend for club and university rowing in both the men’s and women’s events. After a long, and for periods, bitterly cold winter, things are definitely hotting up for the summer.

2018-03-12T19:11:55+01:00 March 12th, 2018|Categories: Head of the River, News|Tags: , , , |