Wingfield Sculls, December 2000

The Rowing Service

Information posted by event organiser O.W.Hall-Craggs, Flat 8, Teikyo University, West Court, Elvet Hill Road, Durham, DH1 3LP

Report on the Wingfield 2000 (ii) heats

With so much land water coming down the flood tide was quite slow, and with barely any wind the conditions at Putney were excellent. In the first heat Brown was steered by his brother James the lightweight international from LRC; Lee by coach Pete Sheppard of Molesey; Watson by Doug Melvin and LRC's new Australian coach Paul Reedy; Hunter by a BBC film crew driven by his father Terry.
Brown leapt out from the start and was still at 42 along the boats to the rest of the field's 35-36. By the Black Buoy Brown had a two-length lead, but by the Mile post reached in 4.37 Lee had taken a length's lead with the other three scullers level two second down. Lee drew away to lead by three to four lengths at Hammersmith, Watson and Hunter neck and neck, while Brown paid for his early enthusiasm. A headwind along the Eyot picked the water up and Lee faltered in the rough, as Watson closed up. Watson drew level with Lee at the Bandstand and Hunter passed him at the White Hart. The scullers finished in that order.
I.Watson (LRC) 23.17, M.Hunter (LC) 23.26, S.Lee (MBC) 23.34 A.Brown (LC) 27.41
The second heat was more clear cut, once Searle showed ahead after a minute the order never changed. Searle reached the Milepost in 4.35, Lawson 4.42, Vondra 4.48.
G.Searle (MBC) 24.41, I.Lawson (LC) 24.13, P.Vondra (LRC) 24.28
The first two scullers from each heat qualified directly for the final with the fastest third placed sculler, so the final line up from Surrey to Middlesex was; Lawson, Watson, Searle, Hunter, Lee.

Report on the Wingfield 2000 (ii) final

Cooler, darker and windier than Tuesday, the water was bumpier upto Hammersmith but calmer beyond, only picking up at Chiswick Pier. Lawson was shown up by Chris Collerton of Leander, Watson by Doug Melvin of LRC, Searle and Lee by Pete Sheppard of Molesey and Hunter by his brother Ross of Leander. There was a good showing from the press with three broad sheets represented, two sending photographers as well as Pete Spurrier and John Shore, on top of that Mark Hunter was still followed by his BBC film crew making a documentary which should be out in March. Several of the past Champions were down to watch who would become the second Champion of the Thames in 2000. The Champion from 1963-6 Bill Barry umpired.
The five scullers got off to a clean start with Searle setting the tempo staright away. Lawson was first to show behind Searle under-rating him by three pips. By LRC Searle still at 38 was a length clear. Lee had squeezed over from Middlesex and was 3/4l up on Hunter. At the Black Buoy Searle was 2l up on Lawson, who was 1/2l up on Watson and Lee and a length back was Hunter. Searle led the pack across the corner, whilst Watson dropped back and kept on the stream but to no avail. Hunter rallied and drew level with Watson at Barn Elms. Lee challenged Lawson to the Mile.
Mile Post Searle 4.35, Lawson 4.39, Lee 4.40, Hunter 4.43, Watson 4.45
Hunter pushed hard from the Mile and at 34 drew up to Lawson who had been passed by Lee after a slight clash.
Hammersmith Bridge Searle 8.16, Lee 8.20, Lawson 8.21, Hunter 8.22, Watson 8.29
Cheers could be heard from the staff at the ARA as Searle led the scullers across the bend. Lee was caught in his wash and slewed onto Hunter. The clash took the edge off Hunter's challenge and allowed Lee concentrate on pursuing Searle. Lee stuck close to the Surrey bank which allowed Hunter to close up again along the Eyot, while Searle at 28 drew away.
Chiswick Steps Searle 13.14, Lee 13.22, Hunter 13.25, Lawson 13.28, Watson 13.37
In the rough water off Chiswick Pier, as Searle led the scullers over to the Middlesex shore, Watson stayed out in the rough and closed on the group; this was the only time in the race he looked to be challenging the lead. Lawson stuck close under the bank past the Bandstand and closed on Hunter, but had to cut out sharply to avoid disqualification and go through the centre arch of Barnes Bridge where he missed Hunter and the buttress narrowly.
Barnes Bridge Searle 18.30, Lee 18.36, Lawson 18.43, Hunter 18.43.5, Watson 18.56
In the calm after Barnes two tough tussles developed Lee casing Searle to the line and Hunter challenging to get back through Lawson. The line came too soon for both pursuers.
Finish Searle 22.21, Lee 22.25, Lawson 22.37, Hunter 22.39, Watson 22.58

It was good to see so many challengers for the Silver Sculls, the first time there have been heats since 1969, and especially good to see the younger scullers. International Rowing Manager David Tanner presented Henry C.Wingfield's silver sculls to the best on the day at the Tideway Scullers' School. He was pleased to witness such a good race and hoped it boded well for the future of British sculling, not only the return of Greg to his winning ways but also the event's new date allowing a larger and higher-quality entry. Both he and Jurgen Grobler are keen to support the Wingfield Sculls. They want to see the event performing a useful role, encouraging scullers to pit themselves against the best the country has to offer, over the toughest course.