Head of the Float Saturday 30th November 2019
The club held its annual Head of the Float on Saturday 30th November. Perhaps as a result of many other events in the North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire being cancelled due to river conditions, we had an almost full entry of 91 crews. Apart from North West club entries from Royal Chester, Grosvenor, Hollingworth Lake, Northwich, Trentham and Warrington, we also had entries from Pengwern (Shrewsbury), Bangor University, Ironbridge and Bradford. The standard of entries was high, with competitive crews from Kings School Chester, Queens Park High School, the welcome return of Merchant Taylors School, and Royal Shrewsbury School. I just wish that we could accommodate more entries but we are limited to a maximum of 96 crews.
This year, for the first time we included Explore boats (now we have a matched pair), and welcomed crews of beginners from Lancaster, Trafford and Hollingworth Lake. We also had coxed fours for the first time this year, following requests last year. I think that persuaded Ironbridge and Bradford to enter for the first time for many years.
Happily, the weather was cold but bright, with a very gentle breeze. In the past we have had to cancel or abandon the event when the wind has picked up but this year there were no such problems. In the cold conditions, I am pleased that we had no capsizes or incidents and some excellent watermanship by all the competitors.
As the event is run over 8 divisions, with crews able to row a number of times in different combinations, it is logistically very difficult to manage. This year was not helped by two ships arriving onto Cavendish Quay between 12.30 and 13.30. As a result of the shipping movements, we lost one and a half hours from the programme and consequently, Royal Shrewsbury School unfortunately scratched a number of crews from the later divisions. We were still able to finish before dusk, as we combined the last two divisions into one. It is an occupational hazard of operating on a commercial waterway
The club had six entries but only one win in the Mixed J18 eight, where the Vics crew beat Merchant Taylors School by 16 seconds in a time of 08:16.9. The fastest men’s crew was an eight from Kings School Chester and the fastest women’s crew also an eight from Kings School.
In addition to thanking all the members who worked so hard the previous Sunday and Friday and then on the day from 0630 in the morning, I would like to thank our visitors from clubs and schools. We had great support from North West Umpires and the invaluable help of our neighbours in the Sea Scouts and Sea Cadets, who together with the loan of a Runcorn Rowing Club launch, covered our event safety.
As at Merseyside Regatta, the event could not go ahead without the support of Jenkins Shipping (who allow us to use their yard for car parking and their quayside for trailer parking), Peel Ports (who licence the event), United Molasses and Storage, and TAG Scaffolding. Planning the event takes four months but it was worth it to get a ‘green light’ from the North West Umpires for the management of the event. Clear your diaries for Merseyside Regatta on Saturday 2nd May 2020 and Head of the Float on Saturday 28th November 2020!