This weekend sees the 77th running of the Women’s Head of the River…possibly the biggest women only sporting event in the world. 321 crews are in the draw, that’s more than 2500 athletes racing the 4.5 mile course from Chiswick to Putney.
At the top end of the field this was looking to be a three-way battle between Leander, Cambridge and a 7 club composite. Unfortunately it looks as though the squad composite – which had included Olympic silver medallist Zoe Lee – has scratched. But, there are plenty of other Olympians slated to compete. Leander (starting no.51) look to be the favourites with Olympic silver medallists Vicky Thornley and Karen Bennett along with 2016 W4- World Champions Holly Nixon, Fiona Gammond and Holly Norton.
Cambridge University will be using this race as a major test for their prospective Blue Boat. They have had an excellent build up so far this season, winning the Quintin Head of the River and dominating all their match races so far. They start in 4th and will be chasing Oxford Brookes University. The Brookes crew features Olympic silver medallist Olivia Carnegie-Brown
Starting Head are Imperial College, they will be followed by Molesey – winners of Senior 8’s Hammersmith Head (and the fastest women’s crew). UL will also be looking for a strong finish, their crew includes U23 silver medallist Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne. UL won the BUCS head and Elite 8’s at Hammersmith Head.
Ryan Demaine’s Headington School have been the dominant force in junior women’s 8’s for nearly a decade. At the Reading University Head they finished less than 1 second behind Oxford Brookes and could well improve on their 8th place starting position.
There are 7 overseas crews racing with the pick being the young Italians from CUS Milano (start number 6), they will be looking to defend their overseas pennant against 2 Swiss and 4 German crews.
Competition in the Intermediate category will be particularly fierce with 165 entries (competing for Club, Provincial Club, Medium & Small Club and University pennants). The Club pennant will be a good battle between Tideway rivals Thames and Tideway Scullers with the Provincial Club looking to be a fight between Cantabrigian (winners of the Head of the Nene) and Agecroft.
Hopefully the weather gods will play nice, the forecast is looking good with light winds, cloud and temperatures in the low teens….it should be a great day’s racing.