STAGING Top British women return to their clubs for Women's Head of the River - British Rowing

Top British women return to their clubs for Women’s Head of the River

2008 Beijing Olympic medallists Katherine Grainger, Debbie Flood and Annabel Vernon will go from crewmates to competitors when they compete for their respective clubs at the Women’s Head of the River Race on the Thames on Saturday 7 March at 12.30pm. 

Grainger will stroke a Marlow/Minerva Bath/Reading Uni/Thames composite crew, Vernon will race as part of a London/Hollandia/Thames/Marlow/UL composite while Flood races for Leander.


Grainger’s crew features an exciting mix of established and developing talent, with Sarah Winckless and Beth Rodford joining up with Gemma Akers, Vicky Thornley and Helen Glover from the ARA’s World Class Start scheme, sponsored by Siemens and backed by the Lottery.

Caroline O’Connor, who coxed the GB women’s eight to a 2007 World Championship bronze and at the Beijing Olympics, will steer the crew.

"We’re really excited because the race is a great opportunity for us. For those rowers who didn’t go to  trials, it is the first time they will get to represent their clubs and it will be their first race on home soil since Beijing”, said O’Connor.

"There are a couple of strong crews around us so it’s going to be fun but also a challenge."

O’Connor was full of praise for the three World Class Start rowers: "Helen [Glover] has only been rowing a year, and Gemma [Akers] and Vicky [Thornley] have only been rowing 15 months or so now, but you wouldn’t know it – they’ve done a great job."

Grainger’s crew faces a number of possible challenges, including Flood’s Leander boat and the London/Hollandia/Thames/Marlow/UL composite.

Flood’s crew contains Louisa Reeve who is experienced at racing eights at a high level, having competed in the women’s eight at the 2008 Olympic final and 2008 Olympic reserve, Kristina Stiller.

“We’re excited to be racing for our clubs again”, commented Reeve, who also finished sixth in the women’s pair in Beijing. “It’s great to be racing back in Britain, back on home water.”

Meanwhile Vernon races in the London/Hollandia/Thames/Marlow/UL composite which also features Elise Laverick, Annabel Vernon, and Jessica Eddie. They have teamed up with GB lightweight Laura Greenhalgh, New Zealand rower Juliette Haigh and three members of the Dutch national squad, including 2008 Olympic silver medallist Helen Tanger.

The event, which features 300 crews for the first time in its history, will start at approximately 12.30pm. Racing will be in a time-trial format, and covers the traditional Tideway course from Mortlake to Putney.

Olympic medallist Guin Batten has been announced as the event’s new race organiser.

More information and results will be available from:

NOTE TO EDITORS: Rowing’s World Class Start scheme, backed by lottery funding and Siemens, identifies young people who have the physical and physiological potential to be top rowers, introduces them to the sport and teaches them to row.