SPORT FROM THE PAST: Head race record goes

The Boston Rowing Marathon in 1988.
The Boston Rowing Marathon in 1988.

You would expect the vehicle of choice for an RAF officer to be a plane. But one, stationed at RAF Coningsby, proved he was just as handy in a boat.

In 1963, Flt Lt J.S. Pilgrim-Morris set a record time for the Boston Rowing Club Head of the River sculling race.

Shaving almost three minutes of the previous best time, Pilgrim-Morris completed the 3,000m event in an impressive 26 mins 22.5 secs.

Putting on a fine display he stormed through.

And almost mocking the rest of the eigh-strong field, he passed them all... beginning as the last to set off but also being the first boat home.

Conditions at the event were as near to immaculate as possible, which led the flight lieutenant to state: “It was perfect – fast, with no stream to talk of, and a following wind on the final straight.”

Competitors began at Langrick at 15 second intervals, with Pilgrim-Morris as the back marker.

At the Anton’s Gowt halfway stage, he was 18.5 secs ahead of the record time and closing in on the head boat, Anthony Roper of Yare RC.

However, Roper developed cramp in his wrist and slipped back to finish fourth.

Pilgrim-Morris took the lead half-a-mile past Anton’s Gowt and held on for victory.

He was so impressed with the event that the first thing he did after collecting his trophy was to sign membership forms with Boston RC.

The field was depleted after the competition was deffered a week to avoid clashing with the popular Tideway Sculls event.

But it then ran on the same day as two-day Wingfield Sculls event in London, meaning would-be entrants couldn’t make it.

In the event the previous year, he came fourth in a field of 15, clocking 30 mins 7 secs.

John Vere was the only Boston RC competitor to take part. He came home in seventh spot.