Although I wrote my first article about Henley already in the beginning of the 1990s and quite a lot have followed, I am very ashamed to have to write that while I have been in Henley several times on rowing business, I have never been at Henley, meaning the Henley Royal Regatta. However, thanks to my good friend Per Ekström, editor of the Swedish rowing magazine, Svensk Rodd, I did end up at Henley on 29 June this year. Last year, Per and I had worked with the Swedish rowing magazine for 20 years, which we both thought was worth celebrating. When he heard that I was going to be in Sweden during June and July, Per quickly booked two tickets to London and a room at a nice hotel in London by Hyde Park, and close to Paddington Station, where the train leaves for Henley. With a two-hour train ride back and forth, we found this a splendid way to get away from every day’s after-race-mess in Henley.
Fellow HTBS-arian, Tim Koch (who told me once in an e-mail that he was ‘shocked’ to hear that I had never been to Henley) promised to act as host and ‘guide’ Per and me around, and as Tim is a member of the Stewards’ Enclosure, we were his guests and had access to this holy rowing sanctum. With a professional guide like Tim, Per and I were taken to all the corners of the regatta, and within a day, or two, we could easily maneuver ourselves around, from the Grandstand, via the regatta shop, to Fawley Bar, further to the Regatta Enclosure and to the start on the other side of Temple Island.
Present was also another fellow HTBS-arian, Hélène Rémond, whom I was delighted to meet for the first time. Hélène took some wonderful photographs at last year’s Henley which were posted on HTBS (and most of this year’s too).
And talking about contributors to HTBS, Greg Denieffe, who has a special interest in Irish rowing, which he has proved a couple of times here on HTBS, had sent me an e-mail a week before Henley saying that he would probably be at the regatta on Saturday, ‘and maybe we will meet’. I have to confess that I was doubtful as I did not know what Greg looked like, nor did I expect Greg to recognise yours truly. However, on our way to the start, on an over-crowded towpath, a gentleman in a green-striped boating-jacket with a green cap, suddenly rose from the seated crowd, approached me with a friendly smile, and said: ‘Göran?’ I did confess to be him, and shook the outreached hand, while the green-striped boating-jacket introduced himself: ‘Greg Denieffe’. I wish someone had taken a photograph of my face as I probably had the same look as Dr. Livingstone when he shook Stanley’s hand there in the middle of the jungle!