Henley’s Sabbath: Not A Day of Rest – and Hot as Hell

Finals, Part I

How it feels to win at Henley – elation combined with relief. In the Wyfolds (Club 4-), Molesey Boat Club “A” (pictured) beat Mercantile Rowing Club, Australia, by 1 1/2 lengths.

11 July 2018

Tim Koch is between Heaven and Hell.

When rowing people gather in future years, I imagine that the conversation will eventually turn to Henley 2018. Certainly, there will be anecdotes about the temperature. Men were given permission to remove their jackets in Stewards’ for an unheard of four days in a row; at 3.30 pm the first time, going down to 11.00 am on the final day. Water was poured onto the tarmac outside the Enclosure’s main entrance to stop it melting. Losing coxswains pleaded with their crews to be thrown into the river. Men considered identifying as women as to be able to drape themselves in something cool, diaphanous and flowing. However, I hope that the rowing will not be forgotten. A tailwind and lack of rain resulted in 12 full course records being equalled or beaten on finals day alone. We saw at least one legend whose career must be near the end – but saw several others starting out on the road to greatness. Despite the low turnout of Internationals for the men’s bigger boat events, much of the racing was ‘world-class’, not something that Henley always delivers. Yes, Henley 2018 was the sort of occasion that will be fondly remembered – even by those who were not there.

Henley 2018: No jacket required. The Regatta saw the third-largest entry on record, with 565 boats divided up into 454 domestic and 111 overseas crews.

Sir Matt’s Pick of the Finals Day is on YouTube and Daniel ‘Fatsculler’ Spring has a nice roundup on the excellent WEROW.

I am going to produce four reports on the Henley finals, one each on the six Open events for men, the six Open events for women, the six events covering the Intermediate and Club levels, and the five events covering Student men, Junior men, and Junior women. Strangely perhaps, my first report is on the Intermediate and Club finals. This is because I feel that most rowing people who attend Henley are – or were – around ‘club level’, and it’s these events that they have the greatest affection for (I competed in the Thames Cup for two years, won a round once, and have since deluded myself that the Thames is ‘my’ event).

Men’s Intermediate Events

Ladies’ Challenge Plate (M8+). Times and YouTube.

The winning Brookes crew console the losing Brookes & Edinburgh crew.

The remarkable Oxford Brookes essentially produced both crews in the final of the Ladies’, the crew the eventually lost by 4 1/2 lengths containing just one member rowing as Edinburgh University. Despite the fact that the all-Brookes crew won, equalled the record to the barrier, broke the Fawley record by one second and equalled the course record of 5:58, the finish was initially a downbeat affair, the victors taking no pleasure in defeating their friends in this famously tight-knit club.

Eventually, both crews celebrated a victory for Brookes together – there were no losers in the 2018 Ladies’ final.

Visitors’ Challenge Cup (M4-). Times and YouTube.

Leander finishes two lengths up on the University of London in the final of the Visitors’ Challenge Cup.

More records were broken when Leander beat the University of London in the Visitors’. The winners broke the barrier record by one second, the Fawley record by four seconds and the course record by two seconds.

The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (M4x). Times and YouTube.

The students from Skøll (left) lead their opposition from Edinburgh University and Nottingham Rowing Club in the last few strokes of the Prince of Wales.

To quote the official press release: The Prince of Wales provided the regatta with its first international winners. A.A.S.R. Skøll, hailing from the Netherlands, dominated the competition since their first race on Thursday. Their British counterparts were the provisional U23 crew but (they) couldn’t match the power of the Dutch who won by a length.

Skøll enjoy their moment of victory.

Men’s Club Events

The Thames Challenge Cup (M8+). Times and  YouTube.

Thames Rowing Club had previously won two of the past three Thames Challenge Cups. In 2017, Thames ‘A’ beat Thames ‘B’ in a famous final. This year, TRC retained their title in this, perhaps the most popular of Henley events.

If it needed confirming, the strength and depth of the current Men’s Squad at Thames was clear with the first of the club’s two wins at this year’s Henley Royal. The eight was never seriously challenged throughout the competition, its shortest winning distance was one length. In the final, Thames were in complete control of the race from the beginning, beating the Norwegians from NSR Oslo by 2 3/4 lengths.

The Thames cox raises her arms in victory while Oslo still rows for the line.
Celebrations in the Thames boat. I am not sure what happened to 3’s blade but it was pointing the right way during the race.

The Wyfold Challenge Cup (M4-). Times and YouTube.

Molesey head for victory.

Molesey last won the Wyfolds in 2015 and knew that Mercantile Rowing Club were going to be tough opponents but, by Fawley, they seemed in control of the race, finally finishing 1 1/2 lengths up on the Australians.

Mercantile race for the line.
Molesey victorious.

The Britannia Challenge Cup (M4+). Times and YouTube.

Thames race Molesey in The Brit. The 1 Mile and 1 1/8 Mile markers tell the story of the 1/2 length win by Thames.

The Thames Brit Crew pushed all the time by the young Molesey boat, equalled both the Barrier and Fawley records as well as breaking the course record by one second. It was TRC’s second win at Henley 2018.

Thames stroke, Trevena, and 3 man, Cox (the only Cox to weigh in at 15 stone 6 pounds).
A group hug.
A celebratory splash.
Finally, has Leander become more inclusive in its crew selection policy? Not quite, the boat and blades are Leander’s, but the crew are the 1968 winners of the Princess Elizabeth, JEB Stuart High School, Virginia, USA, rowing over the course to mark the 50th Anniversary of their win.

In Part II: The Open Events for Men.

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