Finals, Part I
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Men’s Club 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.
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.
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.
In Part II: The Open Events for Men.