Morgan drives GB crew to Henley Regatta glory

Wednesday 6th July 2022 6:00 am
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Former Newent School pupil Morgan Baynham-Williams, far left, with her GB crew. Picture HRR Photos. ()

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ROWING star Morgan Baynham-Williams steered the GB women’s eight to a fantastic Henley Royal Regatta comeback triumph over Australia on Sunday, rowing them down to win from a length back.

The World U23 medal cox, who first launched out in the sport when she was a pupil at Newent Community School, steered the Leander Club boat that won the same Remenham Cup event last year.

And the 2016 Oxford Women’s Boat Race winner retained the crown in style, as her GB crew beat an Australian boat containing two Olympic gold medallists and five other finalists by clear water in front of a jam-packed riverside along the 2112m timber-boomed course.

The event dates back to 1839 and is known as the most prestigious open rowing regatta in the world, with crews flocking to the Thames from as far away as China, the US and New Zealand in a record-breaking entry.

Called on by Ross Rowing Club member Baynham-Williams, GB’s new women’s eight cruised home against a Tideway Scullers/University of West Australia combination by 3 1/2L in the quarter-final, before securing a big semi-final upset, beating the US squad by 2/3L in the last four.

That put them into the final against the Aussies, who had outgunned China by 1 3/4L in their semi.

GB, racing as Imperial College and Leander, trailed at the Barrier reached in 1min 55secs by nearly a length and there looked no way back for the Brits at that point.

But the crew kept their composure, held the deficit and slowly inched back before Baynham-Williams coaxed a devastating push out of them with around 1,000m to race to get back on terms.

And the Aussies simply had no answer as the Brits surged through in front of an ecstatic grandstand crowd to win by 1 1/3rd lengths in 6.37, the overjoyed Wye cox immediately jumping into exhausted stroke Heidi Long’s arms to celebrate after crossing the line.

The Hartpury crew of fellow Newent School product Ella Bardsley-Taylor had to come through qualifying, but grabbed one of just five places on offer to make the main draw in a 40-boat time-trial.

She then stroked them into the quarter-final with a 1 1/2L derby win over Wycliffe College B before losing out by 2 3/4L to the power of Americans Redwood Scullers, who went on to make the final.

Hartpury’s boys had a tough draw in their quad scull opener, fighting hard but losing out to Windsor Boys’ B by 1 1/2L, with the Thames outfit going on to make the final before losing to their A crew.

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