Henley Saturday, Day 4: Certain Victory For Some, Unexpected Defeat For Others

Elegance at the start.

Tim Koch writes from Henley:

An edited press release by Caroline Searle:

Andrew Triggs Hodge, George Nash, Mohamed Sbihi and Alex Gregory went largely unchallenged today to qualify for (Sunday’s) final of the Henley Royal Regatta Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours.

The GB quartet, competing as a Molesey-Leander composite here and already European and world cup winners this season, had a length lead by the quarter-mile marker in their semi-final over the French national four. They lengthened this throughout the race and could ease off at the finish.

The GB boat now seem favourites to win tomorrow against the French national lightweight crew and the British crowd savoured the opportunity to catch a rare glimpse of them in action on home waters.

Olympic champions Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and New Zealander Mahe Drysdale were semi-final winners in their respective single scull events. They now face Hungary’s Krisztina Gyimes and Holland’s Roel Braas in the  final respectively.

GB Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell found Roel Braas’ pace too hot to handle in the semi-finals today and was soon three lengths down. Braas went on to win in 7:44. Knapkova also won against British opposition in the shape of Olympic quadruple sculler Melanie Wilson.

“It was not my day today. I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I felt alright before the race but once I got in I just didn’t have the beans”, said Campbell.

Just before the tea interval the GB women’s eight looked in good form as they beat the Australian national eight in the Remenham Challenge Cup. They now race the Dutch national eight competing here as Hollandia Roeiclub in the final on Sunday.

The GB Women’s Eight rowing as Leander Club and Imperial College London lead the National Training Centre, Australia, in the Remenham Challenge Cup (Women’s Open Eights).

Britain’s lightweight and open weight women’s quadruple sculls crews battled each other in the semi-final of the Princess Grace Challenge Cup with the open weights, featuring Olympian Beth Rodford, getting the upperhand.

The GB Rowing Team’s open weight double scull of John Collins and Jonny Walton, competing here as Leander Club, beat two top South African lightweights, John Smith and James Thompson. They now face the eye-catching French duo of Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou in the final of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.

Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins, Pete Lambert and Graeme Thomas from the GB quadruple sculls, racing here for Leander Club and Agecroft RC, were tested by Craftsbury Sculling Center from the USA before moving into Sunday’s final of the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.

St Edwards’ School, Oxford, were convincing winners against Hampton School in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights. In the opposing semi-final two big rival schools Abingdon and Eton College went head to head with Eton taking the honours and reversing the result of last year’s quarter-finals.

The results in full are on the official website.

Images from the penultimate day:

At the start for the Harvard v University of London race in the Visitors’ (Men’s Intermediate Coxless Fours). London’s ‘2’ man wonders if he can fly.

Harvard’s bow man breaks the first rule of the Henley start: Do not look down the course. It is said that you can see the curve of the earth. A guide to steering at Henley is here.

Harvard – UL approaching the end of the Island.

A promising start for UL but both crews are under scrutiny.

Harvard went onto win by 3/4 length in a time of 7.03.

Achtung Spitfire! In the afternoon there was a flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Amsterdam Students Nereus from what the normally pedantic Stewards insist on calling ‘Holland’ race Brown University, USA, in the Temple Challenge Cup (Student Men’s Eights). Appropriately they are passing The Temple.

Leander lead Oklahoma in their heat of the Visitors’.

Cornell pursue Oxford Brooks in the Temple. They are passing the ‘hole in the wall’ on the far bank. The ‘hole’ is an inlet crossed by a hump back bridge on land owned by Phyllis Court, a country club sited opposite the finish.

Umpire Richard Phelps has a fine collection of blazers. This one is from Latymer School. The silver badge signifies that he is a Steward of the Regatta.

A close race in the Ladies’ (Men’s Intermediate Eights). Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club lost to University of California, Berkley, USA, by 1/2 length.

A member of London RC shows how to move a boat standing up and facing forward.

In the Queen Mother, the race for Men’s Open Quads, there was an exciting battle between the French National Quad and the National Training Centre, Australia. The French led by a few feet off the start, the crews were level at Fawley (approximately half way) and then Australia went in front. They were level again at Remenham but by the Mile the Aussies led by a canvas and by 1/2 length at the Mile 1/8. They moved away at the Enclosures to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

As the Regatta goes on, so the Boat Tent empties as losing crews remove their boats.

The HTBS ‘Drink of the Day’ is the local brew, Brakspears Bitter. First brewed in Henley in 1779, sadly it has not been made in the brewery opposite the finish since 2002 (but it still tastes good). Note to foreigners – it is supposed to be served warm.

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