Rowing Victory at Henley Royal
There were shrieks of joy when Headington School’s Boat Club made history as winners of the inaugural Junior Women’s Eights at the world’s most prestigious regatta.
Between the 13th and 15th August 2021, Headington’s First Eight competed in the inaugural Junior Women’s Eights rowing competition at Henley Royal Regatta.
Coming at the end of the sporting year, Henley Royal Regatta is the pinnacle of the rowing season. The girls entered the races as the favourites following success this season at the Metropolitan Regatta, Marlow Regatta, Henley Women’s Regatta and the British Championships.
Their first race was against Hinksey Sculling School. Following a comfortable first victory, the girls cruised across the finish line again quite comfortably in their second race on Saturday 14th, against a newly-formed Junior Women’s Eight at Henley Boat Club.
The final was against Surbiton High School Boat. Both crews performed incredibly well under the pressure of the final however following a tight start, Headington managed to pull away to win the final by 3 ¾ lengths!
Upon being asked what it mean to win the first ever Junior Women’s Eight race, Phoebe (L6) said: “It means everything, after such a long time preparing for this, it’s great that it’s paid off.”
Jesse (U6) said: After the year we’ve had, with lockdown and everything, this has made everything worth it.”
After being asked how they rode the pressure of being race favourites Phoebe said: “I think we never wanted to think of ourselves as the favourites. We always wanted to approach it like we were an underdog and race the best race you can. Every race was just heads in, eyes in and see what we can do.”
Mr Ryan Demaine, Performance Director at Headington School said: “A very big thanks to all the staff who sent messages of support over this week. This is the 27th time we have had girls race down the Henley Royal Regatta track and we have represented Headington at Henley Royal Regatta since the inception of girls’ events in 2012.
“This is the first year we have had a Junior Women’s Eight at the Royal and to win it means a lot to us all. In Henley tradition, the school name, as well as each individual girl’s name, will be engraved on the trophy. So history made.”
It topped a busy week for several members of the Eight, with five girls picking up either GCSE and A Level results remotely while in training for the event. Headington supports its elite rowers to be athlete scholars, with high academic expectations balanced alongside their demanding training commitments. The girls achieved excellent results in the classroom and exam hall as well as on the river.
Mr Demaine paid tribute to the Headington staff who have supported the girls in the run up to the event.
He singled outside the ‘absolute dedication, commitment and care’ of coaching team Natalie Holden, Katie Greves and Kat Copeland, alongside the School’s PE Department, who he described as ‘unsung heroes’.
He said: “They have provided absolutely unfailing support and work with these girls on a daily basis across a range of sports too: before school clubs, lunch time clubs, and after school clubs, not to mention curriculum time in PE, Games and just their care and attention for these girls. Rowing is not an isolated sport and without their teaching and coaching, across a range of PE activities and sports from the Prep School and U3, these girls would not have those fine motor skills required to do the job they did this weekend.”
Mr Chris Hermes, HSOBC’s Head of Rowing described the rowing season as ‘phenomenal’. He said: “It’s been a long road since we started back in small Covid bubbles in July 2020 and I couldn’t be more proud of every HSOBC rower. They’ve shown incredible passion and resilience throughout the lockdowns, training and racing this season!
“Thanks also to all of our incredible rowing parents who are the backbone of the boat club.”
Cox: Sophie U5
8: Jessie U6
7: Claudia U6
6: Issie L6
5: Molly U6
4: Amelia U5
3: Mia L6
2: Phoebe L6
1: Amelia U5