1 July 2020
By Tim Koch
Tim Koch marks the fact that today should have been the first day of Henley 2020.
A not unexpected press release was issued by Henley Royal Regatta on 24 March:
With much sadness and regret, the Committee of Management has unanimously agreed that the 2020 Regatta must be cancelled. We have also ruled out the possibility of staging the Regatta at a future stage this year.
All this adds to the feeling that the entire year has been cancelled. However, the Regatta has survived two World Wars and numerous economic depressions and it will survive this. Referring to the next regatta in 2021, Henley ended its announcement by saying:
The grass in the Enclosures will be as green as ever, the racing as excellent as ever and with your support, the event as strong as ever.
To paraphrase a quote commonly attributed to Gustav Mahler, ‘Tradition should be used, not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the flame.’ This ‘transfer of fire’ is something that Henley Royal Regatta, in many ways the epitome of tradition, does very well. Henley manages to be both an Edwardian Garden Party and a relevant 21st century sporting event. Admittedly, in many of the 191 years since its inception, HRR has not always responded quickly or well to social, economic and sporting changes. Sometimes it was cussed for the sake of it, sometimes it yielded to conservative voices that had agendas other than sporting ones. Things began to change during the years that Peter Coni was Chairman and today the thriving event is run by young(ish) and innovative men and women who recognise that the only way for an institution such as Henley to appear to be unchanging is to constantly evolve. Were proof needed of this, the following pictures show that the more that Henley Royal Regatta changes, the more it stays the same.
Below Henley Bridge
Checking the boat
Visitors from Connecticut
Signs of the times
On the start
Last few strokes
Celebrating a good year
Going for silver