The 2016 Henley Women’s Regatta, Part I: Sunday Morning Semi-Finals

Lea RC (nearest the camera) and Wallingford RC battle it out in a semi-final of Club Fours. Wallingford won by 2 1/2 lengths.
Lea RC (nearest the camera) and Wallingford RC battle it out in a semi-final of Club Fours. Wallingford won by 2 1/2 lengths.

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.

Henley’s ‘First Lady’ looks down the course from her Temple Island rotunda.
Henley’s ‘First Lady’ looks down the course from her Temple Island rotunda.

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:

HWR Elite Eights: 3, HRR Remenham Challenge Cup: 19
HWR Elite Quads: 4, HRR Princess Grace: 25
HWR Junior Quads: 23, HRR Diamond Jubilee: 46
HWR Elite Singles: 6, HRR Princess Royal: 19
HWR: 9 nations represented, HRR: 27 nations represented.

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.

A drone shot of an eights race passing Temple Island. If Hollywood had to design a regatta course, it could do no better. The first 1000 metres of some races are on YouTube (such as this compilation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqIkU_AwfLk ) and contain both pictures from bankside cameras and aerial shots from a drone.
A drone shot of an eights race passing Temple Island. If Hollywood had to design a regatta course, it could do no better. The first 1000 metres of some races are on YouTube (such as this compilation and contain both pictures from bankside cameras and aerial shots from a drone.
Globe RC on the start for their race against Headington School in a semi-final of J16 Quads. The School won by 3 lengths.
Globe RC on the start for their race against Headington School in a semi-final of J16 Quads. The School won by 3 lengths.
A relaxed Leander double jokes with a stake boat girl from the youth organisation, the Air Training Corps. Leander went on to beat Tideway Scullers School (a club, not a school) in a semi-final of Senior Doubles.
A relaxed Leander double jokes with a stake boat girl from the youth organisation, the Air Training Corps. Leander went on to beat Tideway Scullers School (a club, not a school) in a semi-final of Senior Doubles.
Lady Eleanor Hollis School on the start for their semi of J16 Coxed Fours in a splendidly named boat. I am sure that the very successful LEH Boat Club and the academically strong school have both qualities in abundance. They beat Henley RC by 1 1/2 lengths.
Lady Eleanor Holles School on the start for their semi of J16 Coxed Fours in a splendidly named boat. I am sure that the very successful LEH Boat Club and the academically strong school have both qualities in abundance. They beat Henley RC by 1 1/2 lengths.
Manipulations in the Henley RC Junior Coxed Four before they go onto the start for their semi-final.
Manipulations in the Henley RC Junior Coxed Four before they go onto the start for their semi-final.
Henley RC (left) and Gloucester Hartpury go off in a semi of Junior Coxed Fours, the latter eventually winning by 1/2 length.
Henley RC (left) and Gloucester Hartpury go off in a semi of Junior Coxed Fours, the latter eventually winning by 1/2 length.
The Henley - Gloucester Hartpury race well underway.
The Henley – Gloucester Hartpury race well underway.
 Imperial College and Newcastle University (nearest to the camera) pass the Temple in a semi-final of Senior Eights. IC finished 2 lengths up.
Imperial College and Newcastle University (nearest to the camera) pass the Temple in a semi-final of Senior Eights. IC finished 2 lengths up.
Club Fours - Worcester (in black and red) lead Upper Thames. They won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Club Fours – Worcester (in black and red) lead Upper Thames. They won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Casto from the University of Virginia, USA, who beat Egerton-Warburton of Tel Aviv RC, Israel, by 5 lengths in Elite Singles.
Casto from the University of Virginia, USA, who beat Egerton-Warburton of Tel Aviv RC, Israel, by 5 lengths in Elite Singles.
Elite Quads: University of Massachusetts (left) race Leander.
Elite Quads: University of Massachusetts (left) race Leander.
Massachusetts (pictured) were beaten by Leander by 2 lengths.
Massachusetts (pictured) were beaten by Leander by 2 lengths.
The Leander quad contained double Olympic Silver Medalist, Debbie Flood at ‘3’. She was also the first woman to be Captain of Leander Club.
The Leander quad contained double Olympic Silver Medalist, Debbie Flood at ‘3’. She was also the first woman to become Captain of Leander Club.
HWR committee members, Elise Cope (left) and Bibi Colgan (right). Bibi sports one of the new Henley Women’s Regatta blazers, a nice addition to an event that is developing its own traditions.
HWR committee members, Elise Cope (left) and Bibi Colgan (right). Bibi sports one of the new Henley Women’s Regatta blazers, a nice addition to an event that is developing its own traditions.
The regatta is also amassing an impressive collection of trophies. Some are especially commissioned but others are from defunct regattas and events (though none the worse for that). This elegant piece of silverware is now the George Innes Cup for Elite Single Sculls.
The regatta is also amassing an impressive collection of trophies. Some are especially commissioned but others are from defunct regattas and events (though none the worse for that). This elegant piece of silverware is now the George Innes Cup for Elite Single Sculls.
This is now the Nina Padwick Trophy for J16 Quad Sculls. It was originally the Tom Green Memorial Cup and is inscribed as such along with ‘Presented by his family - King’s Waterman - Winner Doggett’s Coat and Badge 1872 - Born 1849 - Died 1925’. This was Thomas George Green, aka Tom Green Senior.
This is now the Nina Padwick Trophy for J16 Quad Sculls. It was originally the Tom Green Memorial Cup and is inscribed as such along with ‘Presented by his family – King’s Waterman – Winner Doggett’s Coat and Badge 1872 – Born 1849 – Died 1925’. This was Thomas George Green, aka Tom Green Senior.
The splendid figure of a Doggett’s winner on top of the Nina Padwick Trophy / Tom Green Memorial Cup.
The splendid figure of a Doggett’s winner on top of the Nina Padwick Trophy/Tom Green Memorial Cup.
 An example of a newer prize, The Rosie Mayglothling Trophy for Senior Double Sculls.
An example of a newer prize, The Rosie Mayglothling Trophy for Senior Double Sculls.

Part II, published tomorrow, will feature the Finals.

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