Monkton Bluefriars Small Boats Head Race Parents Guide
Monkton Bluefriars Small Boats Head
This is a lovely location and a nice small event, about a hundred miles from Marlow. Allow at least two hours to get there, probably more like two and a half if you are leaving late, and avoid Bath on the way home.
Parking at the Venue
Avon County Boat Club, is limited to boat trailers but Saltford Marina is just a couple of hundred yards away where the organisers usually arrange parking and you will also find the Riverside Inn (handy for a little relief).
The organisers lay on a refreshment stall in the boathouse selling tea, coffee, cakes sandwiches etc. and there are several portaloos available. The boats are usually kept by the trailers and so there is a lot of walking back and forth with them (grown up help always appreciated).
The race is on the river Avon, and at this stage it is narrow and tree lined so viewing is limited although there is a good view from the finish of the last 500 meters of the race. There is limited space for the marquee adjacent to the river and it tends to go up in the field near the trailer where it would be a welcome shelter for the rowers in wet weather. There is a tow path along the whole course but it can be very muddy so wellies or walking boots are recommended. The short course start is 1500 metres upstream of the finish and there is a bridge there which is a good point to view from (for the brave who are prepared to climb up and sit on the edge!) The long course is a further 1500 meters up, though it feels further, by another bridge. It is possible to cycle the whole course though due to the mud, roots, ploughed fields etc only a mountain bike is really appropriate. Click here for the map (external website).
Being a "head race" all the athletes are put on the water at the same time and row up to the start where they have to wait until everyone is in place, they are then started at approximately twenty second intervals and race down "against the clock". When everyone has finished all the times are calculated and positions awarded, fast crews sometimes overtake boats ahead of them but this is no real indicator of victory.
The rowers will need plenty of food and drink, warm clothes and waterproofs, since they will be sat in the boat for 1-1.5 hours they WILL get cold so sweets, drinks (and an empty bottle...just in case) hoody and lightweight waterproofs are essential.
At the end of the day Bluefriars Mugs are given to the winners in each category in a small but award ceremony.