The 2023 Fours Head and Veteran Fours Head both fell victim to Storm Ciaran, the second of two named storms to hit the UK in as many weeks. The Veteran Fours Head had been scheduled to take place on Saturday, November 4th, and the Fours Head on Sunday, November 5th, both on the Tideway in London.
The Veteran competition was first to go, being called off on Thursday, while the Fours Head delayed cancellation until their hand was forced by the Port of London Authority’s Red Flag on the morning of Saturday 4th.
Without representation in the Veteran Fours Durham ARC had 2 entries accepted for the Fours Head, in the Open Club Coxless Four and Women’s Club Coxless Quad, both of whom had travelled to London prior to the cancellation.
The Fours Head is the premier head race for fours and quads and takes place over the Championship Course on the River Thames between Chiswick and Putney. It can accommodate 450 entries but every year is oversubscribed, and this year was no exception with around 150 turned away as the initial tranche was assessed once entries were suspended 10 days after opening on October 2nd. A new system was introduced this year whereby crews were admitted to events based on their Crew Ranking Index, with the higher pointed crews accepted first. It was hoped that this would alleviate the difficulties experienced in the past when entries opened at 8am on a Monday and were accepted on a first come first served basis.
The majority of those accepted came from clubs outside the Thames Region, and included seven from Tyne ARC as well as the two from Durham. In another change to the usual procedure each club was assigned a host club and boating location by the organising committee rather than having to make their own arrangement. DARC was due to boat from Duke’s Meadows along with numerous other clubs including Sheffield RC and Sheffield Unversity whose boats were being transported on their trailer.
Prior to cancellation the prospect of challenging conditions necessitated a further reduction by around 100 entries which led to the DARC Women’s Club 4x- being eliminated. The final start order is available here.
The Committee has generously agreed a refund of 75% of the entry fee to all crews.