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Schools’ Head of the River  

On Wednesday, 20th March some 250 crews lined up on the championship course, from Chiswick Bridge to Putney to compete in this year’s race. The Schools’ Head is the major national long-distance race of the year and is the culmination of the winter training period.

Due to excessive flow from the flood waters coming downstream the Year 10 event was moved to Dorney, but more on that later.

We had three crews racing: our Boys’ School 1st Eight; Girls’ Championship Quad; and a J16 Girls’ School 1st Eight.

The Boys’ Eight were first on the water to race with Rafael Quinn, George Spencer, Sal Dunn, Ethan Hunt, Connor Quann, Lucas Wolgers-Gray, Joe Cogan, Sam Terret and Cox Monty Todd in the seats. This is the fastest crew we have ever entered. They had a spectacular race, overtaking several crews, including Clare’s Court, and broke the course record. While the result was truly impressive, it was frustratingly, after 4 ¼ miles and over 17 minutes, they were 0.6 seconds behind first place. Still, a great result for the boys and I am sure there will be more to come later in the season. It is not often you break the course record and come 2nd!

The Championship Girl’s Quad was next containing Charlotte Greening, Poppy Spence, Abi Forgenie and Lucy Platt in the boat. GMS has raced this event for the last 3 seasons and has continued to progress year on year, in 2022 finishing 18th, 2023 finishing 15th and this year finishing 13th. Notably, this is the first year it has not contained a single Year 13, which is exciting for the rest of the season and the years to come.

The J16 (Y11) Girls’ School 1st Eight (containing 50% J15 (Y10) girls) raced well in a boat type they do not often row in, not having had this boat out since October 2023. They kept a calm and sensible head focusing on ensuring the boat speed remained consistent, in doing so they were placed 3rd in their category. The merging of these two squads is a testament to the attitude and commitment of this squad.


As mentioned earlier, the J15 (Y10) Boys’ School 1st Eight raced in a rescheduled event at Dorney and it was obvious which clubs had been able to train on the water and which had not. Year 10, being the first-year athletes, can row (with 1 oar) as opposed to scull (2 blades); balancing an Eight can take quite a lot of practice.

The boys went off at an aggressive pace and really raced the piece. The race had two sections to it, 1900m up the lake: turn and 1900m down the lake. Looking at most of the crews there was a fatigue factor of about 10 seconds on the second leg, but the GMS boys should be pleased that it was under a second between their two times. They came fourth in their event and beat a number of notable independent schools including Henley rivals, Shiplake College.

Very good day at the races for GMSBC


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