The Wycliffian Society News Categories

Volunteer for the Heads of the River races

October 17, 2019 12:07 pm

Categories: Sports

On behalf of Trevor Jones, Chief Steward Wycliffe Watermen

Keen to help and know what’s involved, please register here at

For more information:


The Wycliffe Watermen

Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 2JQ


43rd Wycliffe Small Boats Head      23rd Wycliffe Big Head

  Saturday 7th December 2019     Saturday 1st February 2020


Dear Watermen & Wycliffians,

In less than 8 weeks’ time, the 43rd Wycliffe Watermen Small Boats Head will be in full swing. This year I am expecting over 700 competitors in about 325 crews representing more than 20 clubs and we need your help.

We are hoping for good weather, especially no wind or snow! I am sure that Small Boats Head will be successful this year.

As some of you may not have been back to Wycliffe for many years, I have included some information about Heads and in particular the Wycliffe Heads.

Wycliffe Watermen exist to support sculling at Wycliffe College. The Watermen consist of former pupils, parents, former staff and anyone who wants to be a friend of the College Boat Club. It does not cost anything to join, just let me know if you are interested.

The Wycliffe Watermen Heads raise money each year for the Wycliffe College Boat Club. The money is used to improve the quality of the equipment bought by the school and to give grants to athletes to compete for Great Britain.

We hold two of the most successful Heads in the country to which clubs from as far north as Chester and as far east as St. Neots try to enter. For years the entries have closed a week after opening, Last year a record was set with entries being full in 3 hours! This is four weeks before the official closing dates with more than half of the entries having to be turned away. The number allowed to enter is restricted for safety reasons on the canal and by limited car parking space.

To organise these events successfully requires a lot of help. The majority of the jobs do not need rowing knowledge or experience and all volunteers are welcomed and appreciated. Training will be given! Of course being involved also includes watching the crews row. There will even be bacon butties and hot drinks available at the boathouse!

We need new people to help run the event; it is a great day out beside the canal!

If you would like more information, please contact either me on 01452 722034. My email address is

So, what are “Heads”?

Heads are time trials where each crew is raced over a set distance and the fastest crew is the winner. Crews are normally set off at about 15-30 seconds intervals. The distances of the heads vary tremendously from 2500m or 1.5miles (for example the Wycliffe Small Boats Head) to 50km or 31miles (The Boston Marathon).

They started as a winter training aid but have turned into events in their own rights.

The more famous events are the heads run in London on the Thames. The Head of the Rivers (for example Fullers Fours Head or Schools Head) are run over the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race course.

What are the “Wycliffe Heads”?

The Wycliffe Small Boats Head was started in 1977 by Trevor Jones, then Head of Rowing at Wycliffe College. This was joined by the Wycliffe Big Head in 1996. They are held on the first Saturdays in December and February.

The December Head is for the smaller boats (Singles, Double, Quads and Fours) and is raced from Park End Bridge to the Boat House. The distance is about 2500m. About 500 crews try to enter with 375 crews being accepted to race. We are one of the few events to close the entry before the official date due to having too many entries.

The February Head is for the larger boats (Quads, Fours and Eights) and is raced from Slimbridge to Frampton. The distance is about 4500m. For this event about 250 crews chase 120 places.

Who run the “Wycliffe Heads”?

The Event organiser and Chairman of the Wycliffe Heads is Phillip Clements, (OW, Junior & Wards 77-89), a British Rowing and International (FISA) Umpire and Regional Rowing Council Chairman. He is assisted by a small group including the coaches and staff at the boat club and the Fuzzy Ducks. More help is always welcome!

Over the last 20 years, modern technology has helped in the administration of the events, to such an extent that what used to take a week now takes 3 hours!

Why are the “Wycliffe Heads” Run?

The Wycliffe Heads are run by the Wycliffe Watermen to raise money for the Boat Club to improve the quality of the equipment that the school buys from a standard club boat to a higher quality racing boat. The money is also use to support the beginners.

The Heads raise approximately £7,000 each year for the Wycliffe Boat Club. The money is used to improve the quality of the equipment bought by the Sculling Centre and to give grants to athletes to compete for Great Britain. Currently the Wycliffe Watermen are particularly raising money to help with a new boathouse which will be needed when the lease runs out on the current site.

The Wycliffe Heads are the only Sporting Events in the school which raise money to help the pupils.

How much time is needed & how can I help?

Although the time needed to administer the event has reduced, this is not true of the number of people needed on the day. There are about sixty jobs that need to be filled on the day.

The jobs are “turn up on the day” and most need no prior knowledge of rowing or experience and all volunteers are welcomed and appreciated. There are a few specialist jobs, but these generally need rowing qualifications, such as British Rowing Umpire. Other jobs include catering, marshalling, timing, programs, and launch assistants.

If you are not able to help all day (the day normally starts about 8am and ends at 5pm) then help for a few hours is just as appreciated.

Most importantly all of the jobs allow racing to be watched!

Wycliffe Watermen Heads



Name:                          ____________________________________________________________


Tel No (Evening):       ____________________________________________________________


Tel No (Mobile):         ____________________________________________________________


Address:                      ____________________________________________________________






Post Code:___________________________________________________


Email:                          ____________________________________________________________

Email is the preferred method of contact


I am able to help at:


Small Boats Head        Sat 7th December 2019           Morning          Afternoon          All Day


I am only able to help at these times: ________________________________________________


Big Head                         Sat 1st February 2020              Morning          Afternoon          All Day


I am only able to help at these times: ________________________________________________


Any comments on Jobs:

Indoor/Outdoor; Special Skills (RYA qualification); limited availability

I will try to accommodate requests




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