Phillipa Burnham, Lorna Tinkler, Alex Flynn, Jess Elkington, Imogen Mackie, Kathryn Bean, Charlotte Dexter and Hannah Traylen took victory in the IM2 Pennant.

Exeter Rowers challenge Olympians at Women's Head of the River

The University of Exeter’s female crews have continued to assert themselves on the international rowing scene with victory in the Intermediate Two (IM2) Pennant at Women’s Head of the River (Wehorr) in London.

The result marks a second IM2 victory in as many years for the club, who are looking to replicate the successes of an exceptional 2012/2013 season.

Phillipa Burnham, Lorna Tinkler, Alex Flynn, Jess Elkington, Imogen Mackie, Kathryn Bean, Charlotte Dexter and Hannah Traylen formed an experienced crew, which displayed composure and maturity on the water finishing with a time of 19.07.05, just outside of the top ten overall.

Rowing Club captain George Butcher was delighted with the result. He said: “All of the girls had trained hard over the winter and the crew was coming together well, a lighter crew than last year, this year's crew contained six lightweight rowers.

“In the preparation for the race they won two events at Exeter City Head easily dispatching Exeter City Rowing Club and Bristol University; showing the speed with which the crew had developed.

“Come race day the crew felt ready, they were going off sixth out of 300 crews, however they knew that there were some incredibly fast boats behind them including the Great British and French national squad boats. The girls went off fast and caught up the crew in front.

“The two crews raced almost side by side with about two feet between the blades for much of the course. However, coming round the inside of the bend at Hammersmith Bridge, Exeter pulled away, eventually breaking clear by Fulham Football Ground.

“The girls had a brilliant row, this was shown when the results came out and they had retained the IM2 pennant. Furthermore the girls had finished in 11th place, an unbelievable result when the tenth placed crews had numerous Olympians on board, including Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins who won gold at London 2012.

“The women’s second eight must also get a mention for moving up the starting order 134 places (finishing 122 overall), a brilliant and hard fought result.”

Rowed over a gruelling seven kilometre course on the River Thames, Wehorr is the largest female Head race of the rowing season.

Up to 2880 competitors from across the globe attend the event each year, which sees crews race in a time trial format.

No strangers to international success, the crew retained five members (Burnham, Tinkler, Elkington, Traylen and Dexter) who had enjoyed victory at the same event in 2013.

This latest result continues Exeter’s impressive run of form in female rowing. Last season saw the lightweight fours winning every major event they attended in the 2012/2013 season, including the European Universities Championships.

A number of Exeter’s rowers also attended GB trials this winter, Jess Elkington earning an invite to two specialist training camps.

Date: 27 March 2014