Henley Sunday: A Sustained Wish To Excel

The Thames Rowing Club coach, Jeroen van der Kall, sees his boys out for their race against Molesey Boat Club in the final of the Thames Cup (Men’s Club Eights). Sadly for them, they lost by 2/3 length – though Thames did win three other Henley events that day.

4 July 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch finds that Henley Sunday is not a Day of Rest.

In the 1977 anthology My Oxford, Nigel Nicolson wrote:

I spent happy hours (rowing) on the Isis but the best was at Henley. There we were in competition with the finest crews of several nationalities and at no moment in my life have I experienced so sustained a wish to excel.

For those few days we lived in dread of the next race, discussing tactics, grooming the boat, eating enormously, sleeping long – and then the last terrified backward glance down the course before the race began in distant privacy to end… minutes later between banks of parasols and to tumultuous acclaim.

Those were ecstatic moments.

Even those of us whose Henley racing efforts always ended in the Fawley Bar on the first day will recognise Nicolson’s “ecstatic moments.” How much greater must they be for those who reach the finals – or even win?

I have returned from Henley’s finals day with a blazer that needs to go to the dry cleaners and an SD card containing about 800 photographs. While the former can wait, sorting, editing and captioning the latter will take some time. For now, here are the results of the finals and just a few pictures that I hope capture the spirit of this wonderful and unique occasion. More to follow.

All twenty-six final races were on Sunday. Here in the Stonor (Open Women’s Doubles) Reckford and Sechser of the United States are beating Reardon and Coleman of Australia. They won by 2 1/2 lengths.
You win some: St Catherine’s triumphant in the Prince Philip (Women’s Junior Eights).
You lose some: Winter Park defeated in the Prince Philip (Women’s Junior Eights).
Twenty-six trophies were awarded – including the Temple (Student Eights) to Brookes.
Some numbers from the Regatta.
Alcohol was popular with both winners and losers – as demonstrated here by two winners of the Town Cup (Women’s Open Fours) from Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand.

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