Henley Wednesday: Form on the 4th of July

On Wednesday, two American Universities, Cornell (‘Big Red’) and Syracuse (‘The Orange’), met in a heat of the Temple. Red and Orange are two colours that clash, and in this clash on 4th July, Syracuse declared itself independent of Cornell. Here, the Syracuse ‘3’ man is in a reflective mood on the start.

5 July 2018

Tim Koch is on the Berkshire Station.

Lack of time and an attack of the Pimm’s prevents me from producing much original text on Henley’s opening day. Fortunately, the Regatta Press Office was not so afflicted, and I reproduce their excellent report below. Sir Matthew Pinsent was another clearly off the Pimm’s, and his Day 1 highlights programme is on YouTube. As I devoted the day to socialising, I did not take many pictures, but the best of what I did capture is reproduced below.

Thames are the current holders of the Thames Cup, a prize that they won in a remarkable Thames ‘A’ v. Thames ‘B’ final in 2017. Here, Thames ‘A’ win their opening race against Kingston ‘B’ by 4 1/4 lengths.

It was a good morning for any Etonians lining the bank, as two of their crews successfully navigated the heats of the Princess Elizabeth and Temple Challenge Cups. In the event for schoolboy eights, Eton saw off fierce rivals Hampton School, striding away from the barrier with a clear advantage and never relinquishing the lead. Eton’s second eight, who impressed by qualifying for the competition as schoolboys, maintained their strong domestic form by beating a student crew from Newcastle University in the Temple Challenge Cup. 

The view from the Umpire’s launch. In a heat of the Wyfolds, the Germans of Rudern, Tennis Und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen were on the Berkshire station…
… and the Nottingham Rowing Club ‘A’ Crew were on the Buckinghamshire Station. The Brits lost by two lengths.

The Wednesday of Henley Royal Regatta brought a substantial number of closely contested races, with some thrilling comebacks to keep the crowds on their feet. In the re-rowed Wyfold Challenge Cup encounter between Stratford Upon Avon Boat Club and Swan River of Australia, the verdict was four feet whilst St Neots Rowing Club ‘B’, who were only called up for the Regatta yesterday after a late withdrawal, edged out Worcester in the Wyfold Challenge Cup by a foot. In one of the final races of the day, the National University of Ireland, Galway overtook A.S.R. Nereus in the closing metres to win by a canvas in an opening heat of the Prince Albert Challenge Cup.

Watching Stowe Sculling Club in practice during the Tea Interval. They are passing Fawley Court, the half-way point.

2018 marks a historic first for The Remenham Challenge Cup, the event for premier women’s eights, racing on day one.  Domestic opposition fell short, however, as Yale University, recent finalists at Henley Women’s Regatta, dispatched a tidy outfit from Oxford Brookes University. Roeivereniging Silvia of the Netherlands beat Newcastle University, the University of Iowa defeated a Molesey and Edinburgh composite and the University of Washington saw off the attentions of a strong Tideway Scullers School club crew. 

Passing Temple Island, Durham University ‘A’ (left) race University of California, Irvine, USA (right) in a heat of the Prince Albert. Durham won by 1 1/4 lengths.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Bedford School’s contest with Monkton Combe School was plain sailing, with the former running out as comfortable winners. For those watching the crews, however, the reality was anything but. Bedford got out to a strong start, backed up by a successful season of racing at First Eight level, and led the race by a substantial margin at the Fawley marker. However, disaster then struck, as the seven-man caught a boat-stopping crab which halted their charge. Bedford recovered to take the win but may not be afforded such mistakes in the future. 

In a heat of the Thames Cup, Bonner Ruder-Gesellschaft E.V. from Germany (nearest the camera) beat City of Bristol by 3/4 of a length.

The Temple Challenge Cup regularly produces some of the Regatta’s most exciting racing, and it began with a bang as Bath University came from behind to defeat the University of Bristol by 2/3 of a length during the morning session. An all Holland-affair saw A.S.R. Nereus upset the Stewards’ form book to knock out selected boat Proteus Eretes in a statement of intent. American student crews are often considered amongst the finest in the world, and there were wins for Yale, Princeton, Brown, Syracuse and Washington Universities along with Orange Coast College of California. 

More Cornell and Syracuse. A Cornell man is eyed by a spectator, who has seen it all before.
An Orangeman at ease.

Thursday will bring second contests for some and debuts for others, as a selection of smaller-quota events gets started. The Britannia, Visitors, Goblets, Diamond Sculls, Diamond Jubilee and Prince of Wales all begin tomorrow, whilst the match-ups created by some excellent racing on Wednesday promise further excitement. The armada of American eights in the Temple Challenge Cup will look to overturn a run of winless appearances dating back to 2012, whilst the selected crews in the Fawley Challenge Cup enter an already crowded fray. We will also see St Paul’s School, reigning national champions and reputed to be one of the fastest junior eights ever, make their Henley debut as the Stewards chose to seed them through to the Thursday. 

A Pimm’s related postscript:

Information on prices sent out to members of the Stewards’ Enclosure in 1954.

The above prices are in ‘old money’, the currency used in Britain until 1971. The first number shows shillings (each equating to today’s five pence) any second number is old pennies (twelve to a shilling). Thus a small Pimm’s at 4 shillings and 6 pence is about 23 new pence. The average weekly wage in Britain in 1954 was equal to £9.41, so a small Pimm’s cost 2.44% of this. This year, a small Pimm’s is £5.50. As a percentage of the current average weekly wage of £550, this equates to 1%.

In 1954, the deferential custom of assuming that the ruling class where totally trustworthy still held sway at Henley. Members of Stewards’ purchased drinks during the Regatta using vouchers, and a respectful request to settle their account was sent to them later.

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