The 55th Fuller’s Head of the River Fours
The Fuller’s Head of the River Fours (HOR4s) returns to the river Thames in West London, on Saturday November 14th at 1:30pm, when 2400 competitors will take to the water in 550 boats for one of the largest rowing events in the world. 2009 heralds the 55th HOR4s and also marks the 30th anniversary of the event’s association with sponsors Fuller, Smith and Turner.
For information of the non-rowers, the race takes the form of a time trial. Crews are set off 10 seconds apart and timed over the 7km stretch of the Thames between Chiswick and Putney Bridge — all for the chance to win their category and earn a much-coveted place at the prize giving in Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in December. It can take each crew anywhere between 17 and 30 minutes to get down the course depending on the weather conditions and how good they are at rowing and steering!
One thing that is guaranteed is that spectators will have plenty of quality racing to watch, as the 2009 race has an impressive field of international level rowers taking part, including most members of the 2009 GB senior and under-23 rowing squads, who will be racing for their home clubs, against a number of foreign internationals and Olympians.
November 14th will also provide an early opportunity to see the form of the 2010 Oxford and Cambridge boat race squads as they compete against each other for the first time. Both universities have entered five boats this year, with a strong international flavour to their crews. The Oxford squad, who race as Isis, contains the Winklevoss twins, US Olympians Tyler and Cameron who, as Harvard students, also set up the ConnectU social networking site, the forerunner of Facebook.
Crews will race in 21 different categories, from Junior women’s quads to Elite lightweight quad sculls. The large variety of events on offer ensures that, as well as attracting many international level rowers, the race also caters for thousands of school, university and club level rowers from across the UK and Europe, with athletes travelling from the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, Croatia, Germany and Slovenia to take part.
The action will last a couple of hours; spectating along the whole course is free and there are plenty of good vantage points from which to watch. Stalls selling refreshments and rowing related goods will be available outside many of the local Tideway clubs, especially on Putney embankment and near Hammersmith Bridge.
The Tideway Scullers School in Chiswick are back to defend their 2008 win in Elite quad sculls, with a crew containing New Zealand Olympic Bronze medallist, Mahé Drysdale, GB Olympic sculler Alan Campbell and Slovenian Olympian Iztok Cop. They face strong opposition from crews from Leander, Reading, Molesey, London and Agecroft, which all contain international rowers.