Today, Sunday the 5 July, it was the final day at the Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames. Although, I have been to the town of Henley several times, for rowing business or vacation, I have to confess that I have never been to the Henley Royal Regatta – and for that I am embarrassed. A friend of mine, a rowing fellow in London, expressed in an e-mail, when he heard that I had not attended the regatta, how shocked he was that I had not been to “Henley Royal”. And I agree. I mean, I regard myself to have a fairly good all-round education, but not having been to Henley (the regatta) leaves my education with a big dent. Last time I was in Henley with my family to visit the River and Rowing Museum – and what a lovely tribute to rowing it is – my then 19-months old daughter was sick and our stay ended up to be the worst holiday ever!!!
But, as I wrote, today was the last day of the “Henley Royal”. Although, I was not there, I like to know the results of the different events. This year there were some world-class scullers competing in The Diamond Challenge Sculls, and I was curious which of them would end up in the final heat. Early on, when it was clear that the Diamonds holder from 2008, Ian Lawson of Great Britain, was overpowered by the Kiwi Duncan Grant (lightweight single world champion), the trophy was going to be between Olaf Tufte of Norway, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, and the young, very talented British sculler, Alan Campbell. All moved up through the heats, and in the semi-final it was Tufte against Campbell, and the British sculler won. According to the British newspapers, it was a thrilling race, perfectly executed by Campbell. However, in the final race Drysdale was too difficult to beat. If you would like to get all the results from this year’s Henley, please click here.
The excuse that I had not to go to Henley this year is a good one. My friend Per Ekström and his family were visiting us here in Connecticut during the “Henley Days”. Not only is Per a dear friend of mine and a fellow of the Swedish rowing club where I am a member, Malmö Roddklubb, he is also the editor – or, Editor-in-Chief, if you like – of the Swedish rowing magazine Svensk Rodd, which we started in 1990. So I took all the Ekströms to the National Rowing Hall of Fame and to the rowing exhibit “Let Her Run”, and gave them a VIP-tour of the Boat Storage Space of Mystic Seaport Museum where the National Rowing Foundation’s nice collection of Pocock shells are hidden. They all seemed to like it.
Now, I have been thinking how I am to illustrate this entry to give it both a little dash of “Henley Royal” and a dash of Per Ekström and me. Spring in 1997, I think it was, my rowing club in Sweden bought a new eight, a British Aylings. For the première outing, we were nine fellows all “dressed up” to show her off on the water. From the bow: Jan Andersson, Bengt Ryberg, Håkan Christensson, Per Ekström, Ian Nicholls, Timo Ulfskans, Thomas Barge, Peter Kauranen (stroke), and Göran R Buckhorn (coxswain). And yes, the club got some publicity in the local newspapers as buying a new eight is always something special.
It is special to go to the regatta in Henley, too. And one of these years, I am going to go, by golly.