Henley Thursday: Hotting Up

The most exciting race of Thursday was between Molesey Boat Club and Seeclub Zürich, Switzerland, in the Visitors’ Challenge Cup (Men’s Intermediate Coxless Fours). It ended in a dead heat in a time of 7 minutes 14 seconds. (It was re-rowed on Friday with a victory for Seeclub Zürich by 3/4 length.)

Tim Koch’s writes:

There are many differences between a proper journalist and a rotten old blogger, one of which is that the professional spends most of his or her time at Henley tapping away at a computer, drinking mineral water and meeting deadlines. Those who write for a blog tend to spend their time meeting friends, supporting the bars and restaurants – and sometimes watching rowing. They get home late, do some cooking, feed the cat, search for a clean shirt for the next day and only then start writing – or not. Deciding it’s far too late for that sort of thing, they put up links to anything written by the Telegraph’s Rachel Quarrell and to the results page on the Regatta website. They also make sneering references to the Daily Mail, but still link to the paper’s extensive picture coverage. Some egotists refer readers to articles in which they are mentioned. The really bad ones just reproduce the press release written by the Regatta’s Caroline Searle. They do it like this:

The world’s top rowers made their first appearance with Australia’s Nick Purnell getting the better of Danny Fridman in the Diamond Challenge Sculls for single scullers. Fridman is the first Israeli to have competed at the Regatta. In the opposite side of the draw in this event Dutch Champion, Roel Braas, had a comfortable win over Mark Mitchell.

Meanwhile a series of superb finishing sprints in close races saw Hampton School, the University of London and the University of Western Ontario all move past their opponents in dramatic style in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, the Visitors Challenge Cup and the Temple Challenge Cup.

Manchester University lost a scull during their race with Rudern, Tennis Und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen and Ruderverein Berlin V.1878, Germany. The commentator would probably have preferred that the Germans did not race again.

Weather forecasters predict that the current sunny weather will persist. Friday will see World Junior Single Scull Champion Jess Leyden from Hollingworth Lake make her first appearance at this Regatta and GB Rowing Team squad members Scott Durant and Alan Sinclair will begin their challenge in the Silver Goblets for men’s pairs.

The sensational French double of Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou will race for the first time in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup for men. New Zealander Mahe Drysdale and George Bridwater will go head to head in the Diamond Challenge Sculls. Drysdale is the Olympic champion in this event and his compatriot is making a comeback after winning Olympic bronze in another boat class at the 2008 Olympic Games.

I, of course, would never be so lazy. They say that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. If that is true, here are 16,000 of them.

In the Diamonds (Men’s Open Single Sculls), AP English of Nottingham RC (weighing 11st 13lb / 76kg) beat LAJ Wells of Thames (weighing 14st 1lb / 89kg) ‘easily’.

Photographers zoom in on Sydney RC, Australia, who beat Nottingham RC and Loughborough Students’ RC in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (Men’s Intermediate Quadruple Sculls) by 3 3/4 lengths.

Two different modes of river transport, both elegant in their own way. JT Linke of Australia, in the foreground, has just beaten EA Hazine of Kingston RC, ‘easily’ in a heat of the Diamonds.

Some spectators demonstrate a form of rowing, which does not involve ergo tests or abstinence from alcohol. It could catch on.

A cox from Star Club contemplates the meaning of defeat having lost to Upper Thames RC in the Britannia Challenge Cup (Men’s Club Coxed Fours).

HT Playfair of Sydney University, Australia, leads HJ Bradbury of Jesus College, Cambridge, in a heat of the Diamond Sculls, eventually winning by 3 3/4 lengths.

The wonderfully named Ratsgymnasium Osnabruck, Germany, recover after losing to Radley in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eights).

The all-conquering Abingdon School show some muscle in their race against Monmouth School in the Princess Elizabeth.

Abingdon rather cheekily finish their race against Monmouth by going to ‘easy and balance’ as they cross the finish line, winning by 1 1/2 lengths…

… Monmouth, on the other hand, finish less elegantly and collapse in front of the press box, a bit of overacting that losing schoolboy crews seem keen on these days.

Kings College School, Wimbledon, fail to impress the wildlife in their heat of the Princess Elizabeth.

Part of the Temple Challenge Cup, on display in the trophy tent.

The new base to the Grand Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Eights) is displayed on the right, next to the old cup and base. The original cup and base dates from 1839 and over the years extensions were made to add new winners’ names. When the Harvard 1914 winners returned to row over the course in 1964, they presented the Regatta with an identical new trophy as the original was becoming very delicate. This year some Harvard oarsmen have given this new base with space for 140 future winners. It is in memory of Harry Parker, Harvard’s coach for 51 years, who died in 2013. Harry’s Henley blazer can be seen on the right. Wonderful evidence of Harvards 1964 50th anniversary row is on the British Path site.

Yesterdays ‘drink of the day’ was the ‘Bengal Tiger’. Today it is the splendid iced coffee that is served in the Stewards’ Enclosure. When I was younger and more tolerant to alcohol, I would add a brandy to it. These days I have it ‘neat’.

P.S. I met up with Martin Gough, former BBC Sports Reporter and now a professional coach (and a new dad). His nice take on Henley aimed at the non-rowing public recently appeared in the West London Journal. Excitingly, he is also the man behind a new rowing blog, The Rowlup. It not only contains Martin’s informed and perceptive analysis of the rowing scene but also some nice bits on rowing history. HTBS approves.

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