Star-studded composite wins Women’s Head

After much doubt during the preceding weeks due to the adverse water conditions on the Tideway, this year’s Women’s Head of the River took place on Saturday (15th March) in glorious sunshine with the temperature reaching 17°C. The fast stream and predominantly following wind saw seven records broken.

One of these was for the overall ‘Head’ trophy. Anticipated to be a battle between a seven-club composite and Leander Club – both crews consisting of current GB internationals – so it turned out to be with the composite of Army RC/Gloucester RC/Imperial College BC/London RC/Minerva-Bath RC/Oxford Brookes University BC/Tees RC taking honours in a record-breaking 17:42.21.

But a blockbuster reunion crew of former GB internationals (and one Australian) competing as a Masters B composite were not to be outdone. Stroked by Gillian Lindsay and including London 2012 gold medallists Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, they took the Masters pennant with a record time and finished an impressive 10th overall – seventh when the handicap was applied. 

“It’s the most fun I’ve had in 30 years of international racing,” said cox Adrian Ellison, who steered Steve Redgrave home to his first Olympic gold in 1984.

Another rowing stalwart with something to celebrate was Pauline Rayner from Thames, who first competed in the Women’s Head 60 years ago for Alpha Ladies when her crew came third out of 10 entries.

Summing up the day’s proceedings, on behalf of the organising committee Guin Batten said: “The day went well. It was brilliant to see so many Olympians, current and retired, racing domestically with the full spectrum of our sport.

“My proudest moment was the prize giving,” she added. “After four years of planning it took place on race day on a professional stage with lights, music, sponsors and very happy winners – a perfect end to what, four weeks ago, was a cancelled race.”

By the end of a hugely competitive day on the Tideway, records had also tumbled in the Senior (Imperial College BC A), University (Newcastle University BC A), Novice (Henley RC), Novice Academic (Newcastle University BC C) and Overseas (Aviron Grenoble/C Aviron Nante/ Gerardmer AS Rowing/Lagny SN/Societe d’Encouragement du Sport Nautique) pennants.

For full results, including pennant winners, visit

Maggie Phillips