Henley Finals Day 2021 – Part 1

Victory Rolls for Leander, Brookes and Thames

During lunch on Sunday, a Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight made three passes over the course.

17 August 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch is on the finish line of the world’s most famous regatta.

Henley Chairman, Sir Steve Redgrave, surrounded by the glittering prizes. Leander had eight wins in eleven events, Brookes was victorious in six out of seven finals and Thames won two of its four Sunday races.

To accompany my pictures, I have added the brief race reports from the regatta website, some of which I have edited slightly.

PRINCE ALBERT CHALLENGE CUP
(MEN’S STUDENT FOUR) 
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON V NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY ‘A’

University of London won this from the start. They pulled out ¾ of a length early on and by the Barrier they were a length up, 2 up by Fawley. Their lead was pulled back half-a-length, but a row through by Newcastle never looked likely. UL responded at the mile marker, winning by 2 ¼ lengths.

Before the final of the Prince Albert, University of London supporters seemed confident.
UL lead Newcastle home.
The victors and the vanquished.

WYFOLD CHALLENGE CUP 
(MEN’S CLUB COXLESS FOUR)
LEA ROWING CLUB V THAMES ROWING CLUB

A strong start by both, Thames on Bucks station corrected their course from the Island and settled into a long, powerful rhythm. They steadily pulled clear of their opponents. Lea maintained a high rate, but Thames were more efficient and finished 2 ½ lengths clear.

The Wyfolds viewed through a long lens. Thames is on the left, Lea on the right.
Thames lead passing the progress board, ten strokes from the finish.
The first Thames victory of the day.

LADIES’ CHALLENGE PLATE 
(MEN’S INTERMEDIATE EIGHT) 
OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY ‘A’ V MOLESEY B.C & TWICKENHAM R.C.

The third race in a row dominated by one crew taking an early lead. Brookes soon pulled out to a ½ length lead. They were 1 ½ lengths up at Barrier, 3 at the mile and nearly 4 at the finish. Brookes underlined the power of their eights rowing – this is their second eight, their first is in the Grand. Four of their boat will go in the Visitors’ (Men’s Intermediate Quad Sculls).

Brookes in control. Brookes were victorious in six out of the seven finals they were in.
Disappointment for Molesey and Twickenham.

QUEEN MOTHER CHALLENGE CUP 
(MEN’S QUAD SCULLS)
LEANDER CLUB V UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, CORK & SKIBBEREEN ROWING CLUB (IRELAND)

Straight to a final with only two boats entered, but what a final. A huge battle all the way. Leander, with three of Great Britain’s Olympic silver medal winning crew in the Men’s Quad in Tokyo three weeks ago, took an early lead. Jack Beaumont, Harry Leask and Tom Barras were joined by Rory Harris in the bow seat. But the Irish boat was also packed with Olympic and world championship experience – Gary O’Donovan, the stroke, will watch his brother in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup later – and an attack was always coming. Leander led by a length at Barrier but that was whittled gradually to 2/3 of a length at the Mile. Leander responded and finished 1 ½ lengths up.

The heavyweights of Leander.
The lightweights of Cork.
Leander has won the Queen Mother every year – alone and combined – since 2013.

DIAMOND JUBILEE CHALLENGE CUP 
(WOMEN’S JUNIOR QUAD SCULLS) 
SHIPLAKE COLLEGE ‘A’ V MARLOW R.C.

Shiplake were favourites after sweeping everything before them so Marlow Rowing Club, celebrating their 150th anniversary, did what they had to do and front loaded the race, hoping to upset Shiplake’s race plans.  Marlow led by ¾ length at Barrier, but from there Shiplake had a majestic 500 metres, settling into their rhythm and pulling back remorselessly. A foot separated them at halfway, but Marlow had nothing left to give and Shiplake passed and pulled away to a 2 ¾ length win. Having only just started the women’s rowing programme at Shiplake College and with such a small pool to choose from, this is a high-quality quad and a very mature execution of a race plan. 

Shiplake – mature.
We did it!
Not difficult to smile for the camera.

THAMES CHALLENGE CUP 
(MEN’S CLUB EIGHT)
MOLESEY B.C. ‘A’ V 41 THAMES R.C. ‘A’

A close race over the whole course, but Thames took the lead, never lost it and always looked the stronger. They led by a length around halfway at Fawley, but had moved to the centre of the course and were warned several times. Molesey, winners in 2016, kept pushing and attacked powerfully at the end, but they ran out of distance and were still accelerating as they finished half a length behind. Molesey appealed at the finish, but the umpire ruled quickly that there had been no interference.

Thames winning the Thames.
Rather pleased.
Picture this!

STONOR CHALLENGE TROPHY 
(WOMEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS)
J.M. LEYDEN & G.M. BRAYSHAW (LEANDER) V E.E. CRAIG & I.D. GRANT

A supreme race by Emily Craig and Imogen Grant (University of London and Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club). Jess Leyden and Georgina Brayshaw, two Great Britain heavyweights, coming back from COVID and injury that kept them from going Tokyo, have metronomically hunted down faster starters in the previous rounds. But Craig & Grant, who led their lightweight women’s double sculls final at the Tokyo Olympics for 500m before finishing fourth by 0.01 seconds and were only 0.5 seconds off gold, were able to respond. They were half a length up by Barrier, a length up at Fawley around halfway. Leyden & Brayshaw came again and cut it to ½ a length at the mile, but Craig & Grant had more gears when they needed them. Both were beaming as they came off the water, admitting that as lightweights they didn’t think they would ever have a chance to win a Regatta title.

Little ‘uns beating big ‘uns.
Craig and Grant put the Stonor Trophy to practical use during a passing shower.

DIAMOND CHALLENGE SCULLS
(MEN’S SINGLE SCULLS)
G.E. THOMAS (AGECROFT) V S.J. DEVEREUX (LEANDER)

Another fourth-placed finisher in Tokyo with plenty of motivation at the Regatta, Graeme Thomas was forced to work hard all the way by Seb Devereux, a Great Britain U23 world champion. Both stormed off the start and Devereux led by a foot at the Quarter Mile. But Thomas then asserted himself and, underrating Devereux with longer more efficient strokes, was a length up just past the halfway mark, nothing in these little boats, but it seemed to be going only one way. He was 2 ½ lengths up by the Mile and won by 2 ¼ lengths.

Thomas in action. It’s always good to see a provincial club winning at Henley, beating the usual suspects.
At the finish.
Thomas was a losing finalist in the 2012 Diamonds.
Thomas, along with some other Tokyo athletes, had to leave before the prize giving to attend a Team GB dinner. His mother, Christine, stood in for him at the prize giving. She confirmed to me that Graeme was “a big baby” at birth.

TOWN CHALLENGE CUP 
(WOMEN’S COXLESS FOUR)
LEANDER CLUB ‘B’ V LEANDER CLUB ‘A’

Leander ‘A’ were stronger and more efficient off the start and were 2 lengths up at the Quarter Mile and 3 ½ up at the Barrier. They extended to 4 lengths just past halfway and then relaxed to conserve energy as the whole four was due to race in the Remenham three hours later.

Cerise v Cerise.
The winners – Team Cessford.
Pashmina power.

GRAND CHALLENGE CUP
(MEN’S EIGHT)
OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY V TAURUS B.C. & TYRIAN CLUB

The event went straight to a final because many international crews, who have come to dominate it in recent decades, could not travel because of COVID. The race was no contest, as Oxford Brookes’ top eight won easily against a crew featuring many of their old boys. It encapsulated the feeling that this was a victory built on the work of generations since Brookes began transforming their programme in the 1990s. The Brookes eight, part of Great Britain’s Paris 2024 Olympics programme, were in their own race as they streaked away.

Brookes’ finest.
Tarus and Tyrian come in second, a not unexpected place.
It is the first time Brookes have won the Grand.
Cox Smith downs Champagne probably laced with a little silver polish.

Part 2 covering the remaining sixteen events will be posted tomorrow. The highlights programme from finals day is on the HRR YouTube channel and detailed times are on the official website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.