Henley Royal Regatta 2019: Checked and Approved

Boat checking before Henley 1930.

3 July 2019

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch investigates the preparations for a rowing event to be held in a small Oxfordshire town.

HTBS Types will probably have noticed that Henley Royal Regatta starts today, Wednesday, 3 July. On their behalf, I spent yesterday checking that the Stewards have got everything right. I am pleased to report that they seem to be on top of things, and I am reasonably sure that the races will run to time, that dozens of spectators will be on the banks, and that most competitors will be trying quite hard to win. A regatta press release, reproduced below in italics, seems very confident. It is interspersed with some pictures taken by me on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before the start of the 170th Henley Regatta.

Boat checking before Henley 2019.

Henley Royal Regatta is breaking records again this year with 660 entries, an increase of almost 100 on the benchmark set in 2018, with 159 overseas crews representing 17 nations, around 1900 athletes.

Highlights of the 2019 entry include the mixed military crews of the King’s Cup, strong international representation including the first-ever entry from Saudi Arabia and the return of a number of past champions in several highly competitive events. The record entry emphasises the prestige and popularity of the Regatta but, with only 340 crews able to compete due to the tight schedule, almost half the entrants will, unfortunately, be heading home after competing in qualifying races and will not be racing at the event itself.

Two popular pre-Henley activities: worrying and stretching.

The King’s Cup commemorates the Centenary of the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta. Crews from the original six nations of Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, will be joined by Germany and the Netherlands, to compete in a knock-out format over the final three days of the 2019 Regatta.

The Shores of Tripoli are a long way from the riverbank of Henley-on-Thames but this U.S. Marine member of the American Armed Forces Crew for the King’s Cup does not seem worried.

An extensive international entry sees strong national crews from the Netherlands, New Zealand and China competing head-to-head for many trophies, particularly in the women’s events. A robust selection of schools, universities and clubs from the USA are joined by crews from Argentina, Canada, France and Germany, as well as Saudi Arabia, which further strengthens the competition in categories across the board.

More pre-Henley activities: rowing talk and boat pampering.

Mahé Drysdale will return to Henley Royal Regatta as a six-time winner of The Diamond Challenge Sculls, after equalling Stuart Mackenzie’s record last year. Aiming to go one step further, 2019 will see Drysdale competing in two events. There is a possibility that he will meet World Champion Kjetil Borch who will be seeking revenge after the dramatic Final of The Diamond Challenge Sculls last year. Doubling-up, Drysdale will also compete for the New Zealand national team against Great Britain in The Grand Challenge Cup. The New Zealand eight will also include two-times Olympic Gold medallist and multiple Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup winner, Hamish Bond, who has returned to rowing as stroke after a sojourn in cycling where he won a Bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games in the time-trial.

Going for a paddle.

Other past winners include Lisa Scheenaard from the Netherlands who could be taking on Emma Twigg from New Zealand in The Princess Royal Challenge Cup. Scheenaard will also double-up and could compete against Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe, New Zealand, who return as part of a strong entry, racing for The Stonor Challenge Trophy after winning the inaugural event in 2017.

Legs and arms.

In The Double Sculls Challenge Cup, John Storey and Chris Harris from New Zealand will return to the scene of their 2017 victory, while Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, also from New Zealand, do the same in The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup.

The bow pair of the Thames Cup Crew from Royal Chester RC, a club from England’s wild (North) West.

Last year’s record breakers, St. Paul’s, will return to defend The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, but this year they are likely to face stiff opposition from the likes of Eton, Radley and Shiplake, as well as US crews from St. Joseph’s Prep School and Kent School.

Lawrenceville School from New Jersey, USA, hopefuls in the Princess Elizabeth.

Perennially popular trophies, The Thames Challenge Cup, The Wyfold Challenge Cup and The Britannia Challenge Cup, have multiple entries from Thames Rowing Club, with two wins in the last three years. 

Everyone has their own warm up.

The Remenham Challenge Cup again has three strong entries from the national teams of Great Britain, New Zealand and the Netherlands, while The Temple Challenge Cup sees Oxford Brookes and Nereus presenting stiff opposition. Meanwhile, The Stewards’ Challenge Cup will pitch GB crews Leander against Leander & Oxford Brookes, European Championship winners three weeks ago.

Henley is ready.

All five days of the Regatta can be watched live and on-demand on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/HenleyRoyalRegatta. The 2019 Entry List can be found here.

From @HenleyRegatta

All the King’s Cup entrants.
The Regatta Draw on 29 June at Henley Town Hall.
The Chairman, Sir Steve Redgrave, draws the crew names from the Grand Challenge Cup.
Competitors view the proceedings.

Back to Richard Way’s Bookshop

After my recent piece on Richard Way’s, the Henley bookshop with a specialist rowing book and print section, here is further proof of the value of supporting proper independent bookshops. Proprietor, Diana Cook, has a basket of old post-1960 Henley programmes available ‘free to good homes’. She asks ‘take what you need and please bring your spares for others’. This is not a service offered by Amazon.
Diana told me that it is amusing to see former competitors showing their children programmes in which their names and weights are included as proof that they were once thin. Looking at my entry in a 2002 programme, I was really too heavy for a cox (though we still beat Thames). Strangely, after returning to training last year, I am now 7 pounds / 2.5 kgs lighter than when I steered 17 years ago (sadly, this may no longer be the case by the time Henley finishes next Sunday).

Wednesday’s timetable is here.

In the unlikely event that more is needed to get you into the Henley mood, watch this short video, ‘2112m of pain for a lifetime of glory’, on the regatta’s YouTube’s Channel.

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