5 July 2022
By Tim Koch
Some say that the purpose of Eton is to produce Old Etonians. That may or may not be true, but it is more certain that the purpose of the school’s boat club is to produce great oarsmen. This it certainly does, but by the very high standards of Eton College BC, 2022 was not one of its most successful Henley Royal Regattas. Of the last ten Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (PE) finals, an Eton crew has been in half of them and, since the PE first started in 1946, the school has won it fifteen times. However, this year the First Eight “only” won three rounds and was knocked out in the semi-finals, losing to Radley by 1/4 length.
The 2022 crew should, however, be proud of perhaps a more important aspect of its recent Henley campaign. In a very white sport and in a very white event, this year’s boat contained three (I think) boys of colour. I am particularly aware of “3”, 17-year-old Schuyler Audley-Williams. In short, Schuyler has gone from social housing on a challenging West London council estate to attending one the most famous and prestigious fee-paying schools in the world. Most credit for this journey should go to his parents, Harry and Stephanie, but rowing has also played its part. A cutting from the Sunday Times of 3 March 2019 proudly hanging in the boathouse of the charity Fulham Reach Boat Club succinctly tells Schuyler’s story.