Henley: Onboard The Umpire’s Launch

Lea Rowing Club boating for a heat of the Thames Cup. Lea was formed in 1980 by the amalgamation of several former tradesman’s clubs based on the Spring Hill site on the River Lea in East London. The club has won at Henley Royal Regatta on six occasions.

5 July 2017

Clive Radley.

Clive Radley writes:

I have been attending the Henley Royal Regatta as a spectator for many years and have always wanted to follow a race in the umpire’s launch. This year, my wish was fulfilled when Sally Lawrence of the Lea Rowing Club kindly invited me to watch Lea’s First Eight compete in Henley’s club eights event, The Thames Cup, from the umpire’s launch on the regatta’s opening day. The opposing crew was from Tim Koch’s club, Auriol Kensington, and he sat opposite me taking photographs of the race.

Lea on the start.

I tell the story of my family’s connection with what is now Lea Rowing Club and their ownership of the neighbouring boatyard at Spring Hill in East London in my book, The Radleys of the Lea. I am a social member of the club and support them financially in a small way.

A few strokes into the Lea (left) – Auriol Kensington (right) race.

While I was in the bows of the launch with the umpire and representatives of both Lea and Auriol Kensington, in the stern sat the timekeepers but also Sir Steve and Lady Redgrave, the latter now also a Henley Steward.

Approaching the finish, Lea heads for a decisive victory.

Lea took an early lead and gradually eased away to a comfortable distance which they maintained to the finish, much to the delight of myself and the coach. The verdict: three lengths. Sadly, the next day, Lea lost to Agecroft RC from Manchester by just three-quarters of a length.

Clive and the Lea crew.

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