Originally intended to simply spur crews to do long distance winter training, the Eights Head of the River Race has become a highly prestigious race in its own right, attracting overseas competitors and elite crews. Held at around the same time as the University Boat Race, it gives club rowers a chance to compete over the course made famous by global TV coverage. When you're based at Hammersmith, that course is the back yard which always gives confidence in dealing with rough water. The Sons of the Thames crew had a long wait to start, but picked up over 100 places to finish in the top 200. In contrast to recent years, conditions were quite good. The race was won for the first time by Oxford Brookes University.