Henley Saturday: Brawn On the 4th of July

Pic 1. Hunter from Washington subtilely shows his allegiance.
Hunter from Washington subtilely shows his allegiance.

Tim Koch writes:

Independence Day at Henley started with sixteen of the original American entry of fifty-nine crews still in the event but, by the end of semi-finals day, Saturday, that number had been reduced to five, four of them in all-American finals. Today, when the finals will be rowed, Yale University and University of Washington will line up against each other in both the Ladies’ Plate (Men’s Intermediate Eights) and the Prince Albert (Student Men’s Coxed Fours). In the Visitors’ (Men’s Intermediate Coxless Fours), the University of California, Berkeley will race Sydney RC, Australia.

Pic 2. Yale come ashore after securing their place in the final of the Prince Albert by beating the Dutch crew from Nereus.
Yale come ashore after securing their place in the final of the Prince Albert by beating the Dutch crew from Nereus.
Harvard down on Imperial in a heat of the Prince Albert. They went onto win by half a length.
Harvard down on Imperial in a heat of the Prince Albert. They went onto win by half a length.

Saturday saw very different conditions to those that helped break so many records the previous day and for much of the time there was a headwind down the course. I spent the day at a crew reunion and so was more concerned with Pimm’s than wins. Luckily, the Henley press office had no such distractions and produced this summery of some of the semi-finals:

The Great Britain men’s eight teed up the final the home crowd wanted when they beat the Australians in the semis of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta today. Racing here as Leander Club & Molesey B.C., the British boat now face their arch-rivals Germany. This morning they made light of a swirling head-wind to come through in 6:32 against the Australian national eight freshly arrived in Europe. GB, the World Champions, and Germany, the Olympic Champions, have raced each other twice already this season. The Germans won in Poznan to take the European title whilst the British took the honours in Varese in a thrilling world cup final 10 days ago. This season, with Olympic qualifying looming at the World Championships in September, the Jurgen Grobler coached GB eight is stacked with a host of World or Olympic medallists including 2012 men’s four gold medallists Alex Gregory and Pete Reed. Boat Race winner Constantine Louloudis has also joined the crew since finishing his finals to replace Stewart Innes. This rivalry has captured the imagination of the rowing world and the expected tens of thousands of spectators should have a cracking final to savour tomorrow.

Pic 3. Leander and Molesey lead the National Training Centre, Australia, passing ‘the hole in the wall’.
Leander and Molesey lead the National Training Centre, Australia, passing ‘the hole in the wall’.

One of the best races of the afternoon’s programme came from the junior women’s quadruple sculls of Gloucester R.C. and top American line-up Y Quad Cities R.A. Gloucester won after a terrific scrap which saw some tremendous mid-race pace from the Americans but in which the lead changed hands several times. In the final 350m, just as Gloucester had their noses in front again, the U.S. crew made a huge steering error during which they lost so much ground that they could not recover.

Olympic Champions Mahe Drysdale and Mirka Knapkova won their semis as expected and will contest the finals of the open men’s and women’s single scull events – the Diamond Challenge Sculls and the Princess Royal Challenge Cup – against Gabor Csepregi of Hungary and Lisa Scheenaard of Holland, respectively. Both are seeking their fifth title here.

Pic 4. Mahe Drysdale in the final few strokes of his qualifying race for the final of the Diamond Sculls.
Mahe Drysdale in the final few strokes of his qualifying race for the final of the Diamond Sculls.

St Paul’s School will meet Westminster School in the final of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights but only after Westminster came through a tough contest with Gonzaga College High School of the USA.

Pic 5. Westminster and Gonzaga draw the crowds.
Westminster and Gonzaga draw the crowds.

Nottingham R.C. and Sir William Borlase’s Grammar will contest the final of the Fawley Challenge Cup for junior boys’ quads but only after the Borlase crew had been given a run for their money by Glasgow Academy in thrilling and close semi-final.

Pic 6. Borlase pictured while they were still down on Glasgow, they went onto win by a canvas despite the stroke losing a scull for a few seconds during the first few strokes.
Borlase pictured while they were still down on Glasgow, they went onto win by a canvas despite the stroke losing a scull for a few seconds during the first few strokes.

This final will bring the curtain down on the 2015 Regatta as the last of 20 finals to be contested (on 5th July). Racing starts at 11.30am and will run until 4.00pm. Sunday’s timetable is here.

The official highlights programme of the Saturday races is on the Henley YouTube Channel – which also has some thoughts on what its worldwide audience may wish to watch:

With 20 sparkling finals in store (on Sunday, 5th July) it will be hard to choose a favourite. British and German viewers might feel that the Grand Challenge Cup final is the top pick. That’s on at 15.30 BST – although the Germans also have a crew in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for men’s quads where they will meet the British crew that won world cup gold 10 days ago. Americans will no doubt relish both of the Yale v Washington match-ups in the Ladies’ Challenge Plate final at 14.30 BST and the Prince Albert Challenge Cup for coxed fours at 15.50 BST. Australians may wish to stay up late and watch Sydney R.C. open the whole finals programme at 11.30 BST against the University of California, Berkeley.

People watching, Henley style

Pic 7. Anyone who has ever travelled to the regatta by train will know Norman Topsom, the ever helpful member of the staff at Twyford Station (where the branch line to Henley-on-Thames joins the main line). Sadly, after 53 years Norman is retiring. A few years ago he was awarded the MBE https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_British_Empire by the Queen ‘for services to the railway industry’. Norman was also the long-time clock winder at St Mary’s, Henley, keeping the timepiece going for forty years. They don’t make people like Mr Topsom anymore.
Anyone who has ever travelled to the regatta by train will know Norman Topsom, the ever helpful member of the staff at Twyford Station (where the branch line to Henley-on-Thames joins the main line). Sadly, after 53 years Norman is retiring. A few years ago he was awarded the MBE by the Queen ‘for services to the railway industry’. Norman was also the long-time clock winder at St Mary’s, Henley, keeping the timepiece going for forty years. They don’t make people like Mr Topsom anymore.
Pic 8. Part of a group of fifty from German club, Frankfurter Ruderveren von 1865 who are rowing the Thames in touring boats. They were a fun crowd – and I like the caps.
Part of a group of fifty from German club, Frankfurter Ruderveren von 1865 who are rowing the Thames in touring boats. They were a fun crowd – and I like the caps.
Pic 10
Sean Drea, 68, one of the top Irish sportsmen of the 1970s, sculling over the course. He won the Diamond Sculls in 1973, 1974 and 1975, in the latter year he also took a silver medal at the World Championships.
Pic 11. Van Blokland of the Dutch student club, Proteus-Eretes approaches the finish after losing to Csepregi of Hungary.
Van Blokland of the Dutch student club, Proteus-Eretes, approaches the finish after losing to Csepregi of Hungary.
Pic 12. Graves and Graves of Craftsbury Sculling Center, USA, on their way to the start for the semi-final of the Double Sculls. They lost to Collins and Walton of Leander. For some reason, the boatload of Elvis impersonators seems to be a Henley tradition.
Graves and Graves of Craftsbury Sculling Center, USA, on their way to the start for the semi-final of the Double Sculls. They lost to Collins and Walton of Leander. For some reason, the boatload of Elvis impersonators seems to be a Henley tradition.
Pic 13. One of Stanford’s little helpers puts their sculls away after the lost to Molesey in the semi of the Princess Grace.
One of Stanford’s little helpers puts their sculls away after they lost to Molesey in the semi of the Princess Grace.
Pic 14. Not everyone in a boat at Henley is working hard.
Not everyone in a boat at Henley is working hard.
Pic 15. As the evening shadows lengthen, Henley 2015’s penultimate day draws to a close.
As the evening shadows lengthen, Henley 2015’s penultimate day draws to a close.

One comment

  1. it was a great day on Saturday. At lunch I sat next to a group of Americans over for the veterans regatta at Henley. They were from Virginia. The chap next to me was originally from the UK and was runner up in the Silver Goblets in his youth, sadly can’t remember his name. Oddly my cousin Vincent lives in Virginia and has a Sid Radley built sculler displayed in his house.

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