6 July 2018
Tim Koch keeps buttoned up.
On the Regatta’s second day, possibly the biggest cheer from the crowd – sorry, from Members and their Guests – was not for any race won by three feet, or even by Radley supporting parents, it was for the tannoy announcement at 3.30 that gentlemen in the Stewards’ Enclosure could remove their jackets. I am glad to report that many of us did not make use of this privilege (the Stewards themselves always remain in full kit). If we did not enjoy discomfort, most of us would never have taken up rowing in the first place.
Once again, the (italicised) race reports below are from the Press Office, a place manned by hardy souls, who spend the entire regatta in the airless structure that was once called the Press Tent, but which is now some sort of ridged construction mounted on a floor above the crews’ Enquiry Office, weighing room and medical centre. The old Press Office had a hatchway into the bar next door, but that was a legacy of the time when there was a rowing press, a body comprised of old gentlemen banging away at typewriters and dictating their copy over the telephone (‘Is there a girl available?’). Nowadays, photographers dominate, and the remainder are young men and women Tweeting and Twittering, sustained only by ginless gin and tonic.
The opening race of the day, a Prince of Wales contest between Reading University ‘C’ and a Thames/London composite, went the distance as both crews pulled on every sinew of muscle and mental fortitude to scrap their way down the course. In the end, the composite crew prevailed by three feet in a race that set the tone for the remainder of the day.
On another picturesque day at Henley Royal Regatta, various intermediate records fell in the morning session. St Paul’s School, widely reputed as favourites for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, broke the record to the Fawley marker, covering the distance in three minutes exactly. A.A.S.R Skoll set new records to the Barrier and Fawley in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup for Intermediate Quads, clocking 1:50 and 3:05 respectively.
Shiplake’s red-hot domestic form may have marked them out to most as a sure thing in their second-round contest for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. However, Brunswick clearly hadn’t got the memo and stole a march on their opponents off the blocks. In the end, Shiplake overhauled the stubborn resistance of an American unit determined that if they must return home prematurely they wouldn’t do so without a fight. Elsewhere, Radley College eased past who won by five lengths. Pangbourne whilst Eton College and St Joseph’s College Nudgee of Australia beat King’s College, Wimbledon and St Edward’s School respectively to set up a Friday showdown.
Henley Royal Regatta is famed for its global appeal and the international crews present at this year’s event continued to make themselves heard on day two. Wairau and Petone took a strong win in the Visitors Challenge Cup, whilst Sydney Rowing Club impressed in the Diamond Jubilee to defeat Sir William Perkins School. Montclair Mounties Rowing Club continued their remarkable assault on the Thames Challenge Cup with a solid victory over London Rowing Club, whilst RTHC Bayer Leverkusen also won their second heat of the Wyfold Challenge Cup against Putney Town Rowing Club.
It took all of Nuno Mendes’ wily experience and sprint speed to overturn a spirited effort from Sam Bannister of Cardiff University Boat Club, but the Portuguese sculler eventually rowed down his opponent with single-figure strokes left.
In the first race after the tea break, spectators were greeted to a superb evening opener as Imogen Grant and Alice Baatz battled their way down the Henley straight. Baatz, who was led by Grant approaching the line, fought back to claim the win by three feet.
(Friday) sees the heavyweights swing into action in the small boat events, whilst two of the three newly named women’s events begin. Mahe Drysdale, Jeannine Gmelin and the Sinkovic and O’Donovan brothers begin their campaigns tomorrow, whilst we see an increase in intensity across the club, student and junior events.
Henley, Past and Present: