Finals, Part III
14 July 2018
Tim Koch is still reporting from Henley – where he is now living under a bush in Butler’s Field.
2018 was the second year in which there was gender parity in Henley’s Open Events, but was the first in which trophies of equal merit to the men’s were awarded for all the top women’s races.
The top women’s eights event was a hard-fought race between members of the British and Australian Squads racing as a Leander Club/University of London composite and as The Georgina Hope Rinehart National Training Centre (Henley likes to maintain the fiction that it is only open to club crews, the rest of us play along). The Australians led all the way, equalled the record to the Barrier and won by 2/3 length in a time of 6:36, knocking two seconds off the old course record.
The official press release reports:
In yet another record-breaking race, Molesey Boat Club lined up against the GB squad boat comprising University of London and Leander Club. It was a tough race for Molesey who found themselves down from the start and struggled to make any significant impact on the crew who broke both the Barrier and Fawley records by two seconds each.
Not wishing to be churlish, but I am not sure of the significance of breaking records in a race that was first run last year.
Racing as Cambridge University and Imperial College, it was little surprise that the GB Senior Women’s crew were not troubled by the Norwegians from Christiania Roklub, Oslo.
The Hambelden Pairs is another event started only in 2017. The competitors in the final, Long and Scott of Marlow Rowing Club and Bann Rowing Club against McKellar and Taylor of Leander Club, are examples of interesting developments in both Under-23 rowing and in academia. All four are British women who attended, or are attending, American Universities. The number of students from the UK attending College in the U.S. has been rising steadily since the increase in UK tuition fees. For rowers, there is the attraction of potential rowing scholarships combined with first-rate facilities and coaching. In the long term, UK rowing can only benefit from this. There were six Britons in the Varsity Crews in this year’s Harvard – Yale Race.
The Hambelden Pairs proved to be an exciting race which featured some erratic steering from both crews, though, despite their greater experience, McKellar and Taylor probably suffered more from problems in keeping their boat straight in the windy conditions, something that may have cost them the race.
Now in its second year, the Stonor Challenge Trophy for Women’s Double Sculls saw a contest between the Great Britain Under-23 heavyweight and lightweight crews. The heavyweights, racing as University of London & Nottingham Rowing Club, established an early lead against the double from Exeter University. They never relinquished their advantage and equalled both the Barrier and Fawley record.
Eventually, this ‘David and Goliath’ contest had Gmelin enjoying the same success as the boy with the sling, with Edmunds (in the role of the one who stood four cubits and a span) unable to match her opponent. The Swiss equalled the barrier record, broke the Fawley record by three seconds and smashed the course record (set by two greats, Maria Brandin and Mirka Knapkova) by four seconds.
Part IV will cover the Student and Junior events.