A Swedish Master Postscript

2015 Henley Masters 20-cropped
From left to right: Joakim Breschewski (Kungälvs RK), Håkan Christensson, Per Ekström and Thomas Barge (all Malmö RK).

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

As Tim Koch mentions in his little report on Henley Masters Regatta posted yesterday, at this year’s races there was a Swedish composite entry from Malmö RK/Kungälvs RK – in the regatta programme written Malmoe and Kungalv, due to English keyboards lacking the Swedish letters ‘ö’ and ‘ä’, but that’s okay. Now, Malmö RK happens to be my old club in Sweden, and of course I should have been there, beer in hand, to cheer on my old buddies, but, alas, a heavy work load at the office and some family commitments did not allow me to leave my new home country. However, I was there in spiritus and spirit, as I was thinking of them while I was drinking my G&T.

The Swedes did alright without me. The boys rowed a quadruple scull in the ‘D’ class and in the stroke seat was Per Ekström, 2 Thomas Barge, 3 Håkan Christensson – all members of Malmö RK – and in the bow seat was Joakim Brischewski, Kungälvs RK.

2015 Henley Masters 5-cropped
Stroke man Per Ekström is playing it cool, while the rest of the members of the crew are trying to stare down the fellows from Cambridge BC on Bucks.

I have known Per before both of us began school. Per took several medals and cups at regattas in Scandinavia and Europe prior to 1990 when he and I started the Swedish rowing magazine Svensk Rodd. In the 1980s, for example, he won the Match des Seniors (what is today called Under-23 Championships) in the double sculls, and represented Sweden in the Nordic Championships and the World Championships. In 2014, when the Swedish Rowing Association decided that it could not afford to publish Svensk Rodd after 24 years, the magazine died and sadly nothing was said nor were any runes inscribed and set up in memory.

I guess, Per thought that thereafter he would live an idle life with his wife Kerstin in their cozy house on the countryside, but the members of Malmö RK quickly elected him president of the club last autumn and now he is busier than ever before. The only spare time he can find is out on the water, and as he cannot allow himself to take it easy at the oar and sculls, why not train to go to a Masters regatta, well, like the one in Henley. It was not difficult to find fellow comrades at the club who wanted to work hard at the sculls, if it meant that they would go to England. In stepped Håkan Christensson and Thomas Barge, two merited Malmö oarsmen, who would row as far as it took, if it meant that there were some pints of beer waiting for them close to the dock when they got back.

2015 Henley Masters 6-cropped
The opponents, the gentlemen from Cambridge BC, USA.

However, to top the crew, in the bow seat, was placed Joakim Brischewski, of Kungälvs RK, who has represented Sweden in many regattas. In 1991 and 1992, Joakim was in the crew which took the silver medals in the World Championships in the quadruple sculls, lightweight, and the latter year, they also won the Queen Mother Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta, one of the few Swedish crews who have won a final at Henley. Though, another member of Joakim’s club, Kungälvs RK, has taken several cups at Henley, Maria Brandin in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup. Brandin’s five cups were matched a week ago when Mirka Knapkova won her fifth victory in the Princess Royal.

2015 Henley Masters 9-cropped
The race is on…..

But how did it go then for the Swedes at Henley Masters? On Friday, racing on Bucks station, they beat Putney Town RC by 1 ¾ length. In the Saturday semi-final heat, the Swedes met Cambridge BC, Massachusetts, who proved to be too strong for the Malmö/Kungälv crew, who now raced on Berks. The Americans were three lengths (9 sec.) ahead of the Swedes passing the finish line, winning in 3 min. 32 sec. In the final, the Cambridge BC crew was overpowered by Bewl RC by two lengths, in 3 min. 26 sec.

2015 Henley Masters 17-cropped
Despite the loss, the Swedes were happy with their race.

Over the phone, I talked to Per who told me that the weather had been glorious and the boys had really enjoyed racing on the 1,000-metre Henley Reach. Despite losing the semi-final race, they were very pleased with their race and the whole experience of Henley Masters. They were very grateful for the help that Tim Koch gave them, so thanks to Tim. I have a feeling, it was not the last time the Swedes found their way to Henley Masters.

Ahhhhhh, the second reason we came to Henley……

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