Henley 2016 Finals: Part I, The Open Events

A Hannes Horribilis for Drysdale while Henley Goes Dutch

Hannes Obreno celebrates with a splash, having just defeated Mahé Drysdale, the reigning Olympic Champion and five times Henley winner.
Hannes Obreno celebrates with a splash, having just defeated Mahé Drysdale, the reigning Olympic Champion and five times Henley winner.

8 July 2016

Tim Koch was at a remarkable Henley Finals Day:

To be present at Henley Royal Regatta is an enormous thrill for spectators, officials and competitors alike, but for those interested in rowing’s rich heritage it is especially exciting as HTBS types in particular experience the event as ‘living history’. Moreover, the emotion is compounded when they actually witness history being made – as happened at least three times in a few hours on Henley Finals Day on Sunday, 3 July 2016. In the Open Events, it was the Diamond Sculls that generated the most excitement.

The Diamond Challenge Sculls (Men’s Open Sculls)

Draw here. Video here.

H. Obreno (Brugse Trim en Roeiclub, Belgium) beat A.M.O. Drysdale (West End Rowing Club, New Zealand) by 2 lengths, time 7 minutes 56 seconds

At little after 1.08 p.m. on 3 July, I would not be surprised if the Stewards had to send someone to find an engraver to erase the name of Mahé Drysdale from one of the famous ‘Pineapple Cups’ given each year to the winner of The Diamond Sculls. It would be logical for them to have presumed that the reigning Olympic Champion, on his way to Rio, five times winner of The Diamonds and a convincing victor in his three earlier heats, would beat Hannes Obreno, a man 2 1/2 stone/15 kgs lighter, who finished 12th overall at last year’s World Championships and who had only just qualified for the Olympics four weeks ago. If it was a given that there would be a record equalling sixth Diamond Sculls win for the 37-year-old Kiwi, then no one had told the 25-year-old Belgian National Champion.

The indicator board shows the small lead held by Hannes Obreno (Station 1 on the right) for most of the race.
The indicator board shows the small lead held by Hannes Obreno (Station 1 on the right) for most of the race.

Even when Obreno made a great start and went a few feet up while sculling beautifully, most of us assumed it would be a typical underdog performance when the presumed loser puts all his energy into at least leading to the end of Temple Island or the Barrier. Further, Drysdale can have a famously relaxed start so it was only around the mid-point of the race that it began to look as if we were witnessing something very special with the Belgian leading and, at 32 strokes per minute, underrating the Champion. Around four minutes in, Drysdale put in the push that most of us still assumed would finish the challenger off and, indeed, the Fawley time of 3.56 gave the New Zealander the lead. However, it did not last and, by the Enclosures, Obreno was back in front with Drysdale unable to respond to his finishing sprint. Olympic Gold Medallist and respected rowing journalist and commentator Martin Cross called the race ‘a privilege to watch’.

Passing the Progress board, a few strokes from the finish.
Passing the Progress board, a few strokes from the finish.
Approaching the end, Obreno looks for the line.
Approaching the end, Obreno looks for the line.
Drysdale seems to be trying to make sense of what happened. Martin Cross called him a true sportsman who accepted the result ‘with humility’. Cross holds that he would still would ‘not be surprised’ if Drysdale won in Rio.
Drysdale seems to be trying to make sense of what happened. Martin Cross called him a true sportsman who accepted the result ‘with humility’. Cross holds that he would still would ‘not be surprised’ if Drysdale won in Rio.
Back in the boat tent, a recovering Obreno is perhaps considering the possibility of a medal at the upcoming Olympics.
Back in the boat tent, a recovering Obreno is perhaps considering the possibility of a medal at the upcoming Olympics.
Future Olympic medal or not, these will probably do for now. The silver gilt Pineapple Cup is Obreno’s to keep.
Future Olympic medal or not, these will probably do for now. The silver gilt Pineapple Cup is Obreno’s to keep.

I do not know if Mahé is interested in history but I can tell him that in 1912, WD Kinnear of Kensington Rowing Club was unexpectedly defeated in the first round of the Diamonds – but a month later he went to the Stockholm Games and won Olympic Gold, beating a Belgian in the final. He partly attributed his comeback to drinking ‘Black Velvet’ (Guinness and Champagne) and to sexual abstinence. 

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Double Sculls)

Draw here. Video here.

N.C. Middleton & J.R.A. Beaumont (Leander Club) beat G. Fistravec & D. Fridman (Veslaški Klub Maribor, Slovenia and Tiberias Rowing Club, Israel) by 4 1/2 lengths, time 7 minutes 27 seconds.

Nick Middleton (Bow) and Jack Beaumont (Stroke) add to Leander’s laurels. ‘Fatsculler’ Daniel Spring wrote: 'The Leander boys seemingly don’t know how to lose at Henley, as I understand it, Middleton has won 21 straight races and Beaumont hasn’t lost since the Fawley in 2010!'
Nick Middleton (Bow) and Jack Beaumont (Stroke) add to Leander’s laurels. ‘Fatsculler’ Daniel Spring wrote: ‘The Leander boys seemingly don’t know how to lose at Henley, as I understand it, Middleton has won 21 straight races and Beaumont hasn’t lost since the Fawley in 2010!’
Fistravec (Bow) and Fridman (Stroke). In 2014, Dani Fridman was the first Israeli to compete at Henley.
Fistravec (Bow) and Fridman (Stroke). In 2014, Dani Fridman was the first Israeli to compete at Henley.
Beaumont (left) and Middleton (right).
Beaumont (left) and Middleton (right).

The Silver Goblets and Nickalls Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Coxless Pairs)

Draw here. Video here.

R. Braas & M. Steenman, Holland beat B. Demey & E. Jonville (Aviron Grenoblois and Cercle Nautique d’Annecy, France) by 3 3/4 lengths, time 7 minutes 35 seconds.

Roel Braas (Bow) and Mitchel Steenman (Stroke), the Dutch Olympic pair that are expected to get a medal in Rio – so it was no surprise when they won.
Roel Braas (Bow) and Mitchel Steenman (Stroke), the Dutch Olympic pair that are expected to get a medal in Rio – so it was no surprise when they won.
Brass (right) wears a particularly fine example of a Dutch student blazer which is passed on from one generation to the next with a strict prohibition on washing or repairing. In his left hand, Steenman holds the Silver Goblet that is his to keep (and to go with the one that he already has).
Brass (right) wears a particularly fine example of a Dutch student blazer which is passed on from one generation to the next with a strict prohibition on washing or repairing. In his left hand, Steenman holds the Silver Goblet that is his to keep (and to go with the one that he already has).

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Quad Sculls)

Draw here. Video here.

Leander Club beat California Rowing Club, U.S.A. by 2 1/2 lengths, time 6 minutes 45 seconds.

The Leander Crew of international lightweights – who clearly get a discount in the club shop. The Queen Mother has been a poorly supported event for some time but this year it did a little better, attracted eight entries.
The Leander Crew of international lightweights – who clearly get a discount in the club shop. The Queen Mother has been a poorly supported event for some time but this year it did a little better, attracted eight entries.

The Stewards Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Coxless Fours)

Draw here. Video here.

Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland, beat Erster Wiener Ruderclub ‘LIA’ and Ruderverein Villach, Austria, by 1 3/4 lengths, time 6 minutes 53 seconds.

Smiles for the winning Hollandia crew who dominated their race from the start.
Smiles for the winning Hollandia crew who dominated their race from the start.
Smiles from the winning Hollandia crew, next stop Rio.
Smiles from the winning Hollandia crew, next stop Rio.

The Grand Challenge Cup (Men’s Open Eights)

Draw here. Video here.

Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland, beat Nautilus Rowing Club by 3/4 length, time 6 minutes 24 seconds.

At the finish, Hollandia (right) perhaps had to work harder than expected for their win over the British crew (left).
At the finish, Hollandia (right) perhaps had to work harder than expected for their win over the British crew (left).

As the Hollandia crew was the Dutch Olympic Eight, their win was expected. However, perhaps the crew that came second, the GB U23 crew, Nautilus, was almost as happy. The British Rowing Development Eight lost by only 3/4 length to the best of the Netherlands, and to get to the final they beat both the Spanish and Italian senior men’s crews. If they are the future of British rowing, it looks promising.

Hollandia feel Grand.
Hollandia feel Grand.

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women’s Open Sculls)

Draw here. Video here.

L.I. Scheenaard, Holland, beat A. Beenken (Ruderverein Saarbrücken e.V., Germany) by 3 1/2 lengths.

The tall and powerful Lisa Scheenard.
The tall and powerful Lisa Scheenard.
‘Is that the time?’ Scheenard crosses the finish line.
‘Is that the time?’ Scheenard crosses the finish line.
Scheenard (right) enjoyed what the official press release called ‘a significant victory’ over Anne Beerken (left) where she dominated the race from the outset.
Scheenard (right) enjoyed what the official press release called ‘a significant victory’ over Anne Beerken (left) where she dominated the race from the outset.
One third of the trophies won by the Dutch at Henley 2016.
One third of the trophies won by the Dutch at Henley 2016.

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup (Women’s Open Quad Sculls)

Draw here. Video here.

Reading Rowing Club and Leander Club beat Akademicki Związek Sportowy AWF Warszawa and Klub Wioślarski “Wisła” w Grudziądzu, Poland, by 1­­­­­ length, time 7 minutes 27 seconds.

The crew that were the commentators’ nightmare are the reigning U23 World Champions but, in a tough race, were unable to sustain their pushes against the Reading/Leander composite.

Leander President, Jeremy ‘Rass’ Randall and the Reading and Leander composite. He greets all winning LC Henley crews with a bottle of Champagne.
Leander President Jeremy ‘Rass’ Randall and the Reading and Leander composite. He greets all winning LC Henley crews with a bottle of Champagne.
No fizz for the defeated Polish crew.
No fizz for the defeated Polish crew.

The Remenham Challenge Cup (Women’s Open Eights)

Draw here. Video here.

Princeton Training Center, USA, beat Leander Club and Tees Rowing Club by 4 3/4 lengths, time 7 minutes 0 seconds.

The strength and depth of U.S. women’s rowing was demonstrated by the Princeton Training Centre (PTC) crew who dominated this event despite the fact that they were made up of those who did not make the Olympic boat.

An unhurried PTC crew cross the finish line.
An unhurried PTC crew cross the finish line.
The British composite – brave but outmuscled.
The British composite – brave but outmuscled.
The PTC crew with some compensation for not going to Rio.
The PTC crew with some compensation for not going to Rio.

Part II will cover the Intermediate and Student finals and Part III will look at the results for Club and Junior events.

© Photography: Tim Koch

One comment

  1. Tim,
    Spot on with your comments re Diamonds race ( and subsequent predictions for Rio ). The race was one of those ‘ Henley Moments ‘ that will stay in the memory for ever.
    Look forward to what you have to say about the Visitors and Ladies results.

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