WALES cox Darcy Birkett steered her London University A crew to fifth in the world’s biggest all-female rowing race - the Women’s 8s Head, reports NICK HARTLAND.

And Cardiff University rowed brilliantly to take one of the pennants in the prestigious 320-boat championship time-trial, racing home 55th to claim the Challenge Academic class.

Apr Cardiff Uni on their way to W 8s Head pennant

Darcy, who started rowing on the Wye at Monmouth School for Girls, urged her crew over the 4.25-mile reverse Boat Race course in 19mins 10secs to beat Thames RC into sixth by three seconds.

The winning Leander A boat, containing fellow Wye cox Morgan Baynham-Williams from Ross RC, and a host of GB Olympic and world medal stars, were first home in 18.38, eight seconds up on their B boat, with Oxford Brookes third the same distance back.

Evelyna Davies and her Durham University boat come home 12th in 19.28.8, while fellow Wales caps Hetty Palmer and Lydia Cronin helped Vesta to the Putney club’s best result in a decade finishing 16th in 19.42.2.  

Former Monmouth Comprehensive School rower Violet Holbrow-Brooksbank, who raced for the Wales junior team last year at London Docklands, was part of a superb Wycliffe effort to finish 24th overall and third fastest junior crew in 20.04.1, just five seconds behind class winners Headington, who beat Henley Rc by 0.6 seconds courtesy of a 10-second penalty for the latter.      

Alex Wenyon, who steered the Wales men’s 8 to Home Countries glory last summer, had her hand on the tiller of the Molesey B 8 that placed just behind in 25th, crossing in 20.05.9.

Eve Wright and cox Sam Royston were also on board the Upper Thames crew that placed 29th in 20.15.5, while Richard Summers steered City of Bristol to 32nd equal with Newcastle Unversity B in 20.23.3.  

Starting 134th, Tamsin Forde, Hannah Lincoln, Vicky Brown, Natalya Malikova, Freya Axten, Carys Price, Neve Porteous, Georgie Kerr and cox Lucy Billington put in a great row for Cardiff University to come home fastest Welsh club crew and take the challenger academic class by just 2.7secs from York University, crossing in 20.56.9.  

The B crew starting 178th also did well to place 116th in 21.46.0, while Llandaff’s juniors rose from 284th to finish 173rd in 22.27.4, beating their club seniors by 12 places and 12.1 secs.

Two clubs making their event debut in a composite west Wales boat were Carmarthen RC and Aberystwyth BC, who finished in their start position of 224th in 23.17.2.  

Monmouth RC’s Masters E (over-55) crew finished 238th and third fastest in age-group in 23.32.2, while Swansea University crossed in 23.45.6 to finish 251st, three places and 6.4secs ahead of Cardiff University C’s novice boat.

Cardiff also had a D boat, which placed 296th in 26.11.6.  

Full results at

Photos Ben Rodford Photography, UL, Vesta RC, Cardiff University BC