Putney to Mortlake, 13th November 2003
Ian Lawson is turning into a master of consistency. Three Fours Head titles, multiple sculling trials, and still the reigning British Amateur Sculling Champion. Lawson, who came fifth with Matt Wells at this year's world championships in the double, walked off with a third Wingfields/BASC title on the trot this afternoon, in a display of technique and power which Matt Langridge and Tom Gale found hard to match across the Boat Race course in London.
Started by organiser and 1993 champion Wade Hall-Craggs, the race went off smoothly despite plenty of floating debris, including a life-belt bobbing under Putney Bridge which threatened to beat the scullers to the Black Buoy. Langridge and Gale, drawn on the Surrey and centre stations respectively, scooted off fast along the moored boats, veering towards each other and nearly clashing. Seeing Gale clip a log at London and then being warned, Lawson, on Middlesex, decided to stay well clear, letting himself be drawn off to cut the Fulham Flats corner. "His poor steering actually paid off", said Hall-Craggs afterwards, having watched Lawson's wide line let him sneak past the other two scullers as they battled in the more traditional stream beside Barn Elms.
By the Mile Post Lawson had four seconds on Langridge, with Gale another two lengths back, and all three had settled into a strong rhythm. Lawson's main edge over former junior world champion Langridge was a combination of technique and power: the older sculler rating slightly higher than Langridge at a steady 32-33 and slotting neat catches into the flat fast water. Even a nippy head-wind around the Bandstand barely slowed him down - the rate dropped but he continued to move away. "I stepped on the gas at Barnes", said the champion later, which he needed to do, giving away precious seconds with far too wide a line around the Brewery on the final corner. Despite this, his time of 20:12.8 was the second fastest ever recorded, behind Peter Haining's record of 19:58 which has stood since 1994.
Finish: 1st Ian Lawson 20:13, 2nd Matt Langridge 20:28, 3rd Tom Gale 20:50.
Intermediate times -
Mile Post Lawson 4:15, Langridge 4:19, Gale 4:26
Hammersmith Br Lawson 7:35, Langridge 7:41, Gale 7:53
Barnes Bridge Lawson 16:45, Langridge 16:55, Gale 17:16
(Chiswick Steps times were void due to a wrongly positioned flag-man).