The 2016 Henley Women’s Regatta, Part I: Sunday Morning Semi-Finals
23 June 2016
Tim Koch has been to Henley and is here reporting from this year’s Women’s Regatta:
The 2016 Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) saw 1,820 competitors in 435 crews racing over 1500 metres of the world’s most famous regatta course. This 26th Regatta attracted good numbers in the senior, intermediate and school races. For the 16 places offered in each event, Academic Eights attracted 31 entries and Club Eights 24, with the equivalent Coxed Fours getting similar numbers. Again for 16 places, most Senior and Junior events were just either side of 50% oversubscribed. The 8 places in J16 events attracted 17 entries for the Coxed Fours and 23 for Quads. However, at highest level the entries were low. For example, Elite Eights had 3 entries, as did the Elite Coxless Fours, and the top races for Doubles and Singles attracted 5 boats each.
It is true that each year brings differing ‘special circumstances’ that effect top level entries and that the numbers do vary. It is also true that the other, much older regatta held on the Henley Reach usually also has very low numbers entering its top events. However, a look at this year’s entries for comparable events at Henley Women’s and Henley Royal (HRR) show this:
It should be noted that this year’s HRR entries are particularly high in number and this seems unlikely to be repeated every year, but the unsatisfactory comparison still stands.
From its very start, Henley Women’s was clear that it did not intend to be a ‘poor persons Henley Royal’ and would not attempt to mimic HRR’s 150 years of tradition. Under very difficult circumstances, it has succeeded in establishing itself as a well-run, high status event that happens to share some water with the world’s most famous regatta. However, Henley Royal appears to draw entries away from the women’s event and the latter can only have very mixed feelings about ‘The Royal’ opening up to women and possibly offering even more events for them in the future. Of course, HWR has benefited from the magic Henley name established by its elderly neighbour, but that name seems to be both a blessing and a curse.
Part II, published tomorrow, will feature the Finals.