The following article is taken from the Spring 2013 edition of the Hampton Sports Chronicle, which was edited by James Perkins OH (2014) and Luke Dunn OH (2014). Both have gone on to careers in the media: James is a Social Media Officer at FullFact; Luke is a Social Media Executive at Crystal Palace FC.
Blades of Glory: Hampton bring home gold in historic Schools’ Head of the River performance
By James Perkins
The Hampton School Boat Club has achieved the inconceivable feat of winning almost every event in the annual Schools’ Head of the River. Of the seven events entered by Hampton, six were won, return a staggering 54 gold medals to Hanworth Road. This is arguably the greatest achievement in the Boat Club’s 56-year history, and is testament to the phenomenal job that Head of Rowing Colin Greenaway has done since arriving at Hampton in 2009.
Headmaster Mr Barry Martin lauded Greenaway and the rest of the rowing staff’s efforts as “just amazing” and said he “finds it quite difficult to get [his] head around what the Boat Club has just achieved.”
300 schools and almost 2000 rowers flocked to Kew to participate in one of the most prestigious events in the rowing calendar. The 4.25 mile course follows the same route as the famous Boat Race and is arguably the biggest race of the year.
Despite thick clouds and rain, the water conditions were almost ideal – flat with a mild headwind. Hampton had no idea what to expect with adverse weather conditions cancelling races that would have given them a clue as to how good other schools were.
Sub-zero temperatures, high winds and snow had made it almost impossible to get out on the river, and while other crews were “sat at home on a dark November evening watching Hollyoaks, we were on the water,” said rower Jack Marcus.
The 1st VIII were the first Hampton crew to set off in the event, which was not a conventional side-by-side race – but was instead a time trial. The strong wind caused problems for some crews, causing them to spin, but Hampton’s finest were able to stay on course in their new boat, affectionately named ‘Barry Martin.’
Abingdon, the winners of last year’s event, were also competing in this race and were among the favourites to win. Eton, St. Paul’s and St. Edward’s were also crews to beat, and the 1st VIII set off with a steady rhythm in order to build up some consistency and momentum.
At the finish line, the crew felt that they were in with a chance of winning but would have to wait until all other races had finished before finding out their time. The 1st VIII waited nervously as the seven remaining Hampton crews completed their races in good times.
There was some controversy when Dulwich (who are fast becoming Hampton’s sporting nemesis) allegedly clashed oars with the J15 crew, but even then, every crew felt that they were in with a chance of winning their respective events.
Rumours circles around the Hampton camp, with whispered mutterings suggesting the 1st VIII had won. Almost an hour later, the official results poured in, and it was confirmed that Hampton had won the Championship VIIIs by six seconds.
To the astonishment of all involved, it emerged that, not only had the 1st VIII won, but also the 2nd VIII, the 3rd VIII, the J16 As, the J16 Bs and even the J15 Bs. Only the J15 As missed out on gold, finishing in a respectable fifth place.
The J15s’ encouraging time of 19 minutes and 7 seconds was only six seconds slower than the J16 Bs and beat Dulwich by an astonishing 35 seconds.
After consulting a team of mathematicians necessary to calculate such an amazing feat, it was realised that Hampton had won an unrivalled 54 gold medals.
Mr Greenaway believes that the results are “down to the amazing team of coaches and rowers working together with a united aim.”
The times of all Hampton crews, from 1st VIII to J15 Bs, were all within three minutes of each other, which shows sensational strength in depth and means many more years of Hampton dominance on the waves – especially when closest competitor Abingdon’s J16s were over four minutes slower than their 1st VIII.
Our headmaster believes that after such an incredible achievement, our rowers are now “there to be shot at”, and now every school in the country will be seeing us as the “team to beat.” Mr Martin predicted that once Greenaway took over the Boat Club “we would see fireworks on the water”, but one has to doubt that he anticipated just how great a spectacle these fireworks would be.