Oxford Brookes win Head of the River race, while Sir Steve Redgrave’s university-hosted Chinese team come in sixth.

Tuesday, 02 April 2019

Head of the River

The Head of the River race contained a few exciting firsts this Saturday (30 March) as for the first time ever it included a women’s division. It was also joined by the Chinese national team for the first time, with support from Oxford Brookes University. In the end, first place was claimed by Oxford Brookes, who also also claimed third with their B team and came second in the women’s division.

The top rowing university in the country.

Sir Steve Redgrave

Ben Murphy, of Oxford Brookes University Boat Club, said: “The win this weekend was a huge achievement for our crew over the Leander Club eight filled with current GB senior team athletes. This was a big step towards a number of our athletes breaking into the team for the Tokyo Olympic Games and beyond. It was not only our top crew which was successful; we had 6 crews in the top 19, demonstrating the strength in depth that has developed under Richard and Henry over the last few years.

“A number of our women's squad have been busy with testing at the GB training centre, so it was a brilliant result to finish second at the Head of the River. This has given the squad a lot of confidence heading into BUCS Regatta in a few weeks, and the rest of the regatta season.”

Oxford Brookes rounded out an exciting month by retaining the Head of the River trophy for the third year. It’s been an eventful few weeks for the team, who have recently recorded wins over both Oxford and Cambridge Universities as they prepare for The Boat Race on Sunday 7 April. 

They have also recently been training alongside the Chinese team, who were brought to train at Oxford Brookes for the first time by Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave.

Redgrave, who has been working as the first high performance director for the chinese teams since 2018, brought the teams to Oxford due to the University’s record as a world-leading rowing university.

Sir Steve Redgrave said: “The Chinese rowing team is quite strong, but with a such a huge country and limited rowing athletes we get very little competition. So sending some of our top athletes over to do the head of the river races -  both men and women - has given them a very different perspective of how British athletes train and race during the winter. Oxford Brookes, the top rowing university in the country, kindly hosted us. The Chinese athletes have really learnt how to balance training with studying and a passion for the sport.  This flows through the veins of the Oxford Brookes rowers.”

Redgrave has previously worked with the Great Britain rowing teams and, of course, won gold at every Olympics from 1984 in Los Angeles to Sydney in 2000. The Chinese team placed sixth in this Saturday’s race, finishing as the top-placed international team.

This is the latest eye-catching display from Oxford Brookes, who first broke the Leander Club’s hold on the Head of the River trophy in 2017, before tying with Leander for first place in 2018. The Oxford Brookes men’s team have won the university national title for the last five years and last year the women’s team were the most successful team at the BUCS Regatta. 

More information on rowing at Oxford Brookes can be found at: brookesrowing.org.uk

(photo credit: AllMarkOne photography)