A WYE rower has raced to victory on the Thames in the world’s biggest women’s race.

Ross Rowing Club’s Morgan Baynham-Williams already has three World U23 Championship medals and 2016 Women’s Boat Race victory for Oxford on her CV.

And the top steers­woman added victory in the Women’s 8s Head when she steered a crew of GB internationals to pole position in the 319-boat time-trial.

She was just one of more than 160 Wyedean rowers in action as more than 10,000 rowers took to the water for the March four-day festival of championship time-trial racing on the Thames and the Olympic rowing lake.

They included former Monmouth Comprehensive School pupils Sam Royston and Louis Paterson, whose boats were split by just one-tenth of a second taking top-20 places in the men’s Head of the River Race, plus Hartpury College’s girls quadruple scull who came second in their class in the national Schools’ Head.

Over 2,800 rowers launched themselves over the 4 ¼-mile reverse Boat Race course from Chiswick to Putney in the 81-year-old Women’s 8s Head, which this year beat the equivalent men’s Head of the River event in total entries for the first time ever.

Going off first as defending champions, Morgan’s Leander crew pulled clear of the Cambridge Women’s Boat Race crew starting right behind to win by a clear 15 seconds in 18mins 34.7secs.

And the former John Kyrle pupil, whose crew included Olympic medallist Karen Bennett, said: “It was a real buzz starting first with lots of GB athletes and spectacular to get my first Women’s 8s Head win, it’s always something I’ve wanted to do.

“Cambridge started close, but we moved on them to Barnes Bridge, motored onto Hammersmith Bridge and then stepped it up every two minutes to the finish. There was nothing more we could have done

“It’s always exciting when the GB rowers come back to the club for an event like this, but all top five crews were fast and have rowed together as units for much longer, so we knew we couldn’t take anything for granted. We said we were going to race hard down the track all the way and really commit, and that’s what we did.”

The 23-year-old cox, who is currently trialling for the senior GB team in a bid to race at the Tokyo Olympics, wasn’t finished there though, getting back on the tiller for the 331-boat men’s Head of the River Race over the same course 24 hours later, where her Leander crew started amongst the “dirty water” in 31st, but raced home fourth in 17.51.

“It was a bit like Mario Kart, because although we knew we were faster than the crews around us, they’ll always try and make it tough for you when you’re trying to pass them, steering in your way and sending down rough water,” she said.

“But I told the crew what to expect and although some of the race around us was carnage, I managed to avoid any major steering and we had a really good aggressive row. Finishing fourth from such a low position was a great result.”

Sam Royston, who helped Leander win the British men’s 8s title in 2016, steered another Leander combination to 16th in the same race in 18.31, shading Louis Paterson’s Oxford Brookes boat by one place by the smallest margin possible.

Monmouth RC proved fastest Welsh club finishing 80th in 19.32 in the men’s race, while Ross RC’s women were 254th in 23.54 in the women event.

Hartpury’s Holly Huggins, Georgia Martin, Rhiannon Morgan and Elle Nash were second out of 22 in the Championship girls quads in the 332-boat Schools’ Head race over four miles of the same course, just missing out to Londoners Latymer by five seconds in 19.22.

Their junior men’s 8 beat Wye rivals Monmouth School for Boys by four seconds and three places, finishing 25th overall in 17.44.

Monmouth School’s U15 8 finished eighth in their class in 19.17, seven seconds ahead of their older U16 boat, while sister school Monmouth School for Girls’ top 8 was seventh in class in 20.01, the top four 12th in 20.53, the U15 8 18th in 21.03 and the U16 four eighth in 21.42.

Monmouth Comprehensive School’s rowers were also in action at the Junior Sculling Head on the Olympic rowing lake, where more than 500 boats did two legs of the course, with their times added up.

Their U18 boys quad scull placed a highly creditable seventh out of 28 in 12.57, matched by their girls U17 quad in their 22-boat field, who raced home in 14.32.

The U18 boys’ second boat also took B crew honours in an incredible four-way tie in 13.27.

The girls’ U16 quad was 28th in class in 15.43, the girls’ U15 quad 41st in 16.41, the boys’ U15 quad 51st in 15.34, the boys’ U14 quad 24th in 16.23, the girls’ U14 quad 39th in 18.26 and the girls’ U14 octuple 21st in 15.44.