7 July 2022
By Tim Koch
Tim Koch matches his pictures to the Regatta’s words.
Henley Royal Regatta’s match racing results in all twenty-six events having their final and deciding race on the last day of the now six-day regatta, thirteen in the morning and thirteen in the afternoon. A press release sums up the 2022 Regatta:
Henley Royal Regatta has never been more international in its 183-year history and in years to come the 2022 Finals Day may be remembered for establishing a new world-class pathway for the women’s eights events and the emergence of China.
The press release also quotes Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management:
This Regatta has been record-breaking from start to finish, from the number of entries from home and overseas, to new standards being set in the women’s eights events… We hoped when we created the Prince Philip (Junior Women’s Eights), the Island (Student Women’s Eights) and the Wargrave (Club Women’s Eights) that it would help establish the pathway to the elite squad, but our athletes and the rowing community have responded beyond our hopes. The depth and quality of these events already has been astounding…
The official race summaries are reproduced below in italics. Today’s post looks at the morning’s races, the next will cover the afternoon’s contests.
Thames Rowing club dominated from start to finish to win The Britannia Challenge Cup. Thames, the winners in 2018, executed their perfect final after dominating all season and going into the Regatta Week as favourites. They led London Rowing Club by 1 ¼ lengths at Barrier (2:02 – the fastest time of the week) and established clear water.
Windsor Boys’ School were guaranteed victory in the The Fawley Challenge Cup and their ‘A’ boat showed their class, winning from the front. They were two lengths clear at Barrier (1:59 – which both boats had managed on Friday, but the ‘B’ boat could not reproduce today). Windsor Boys’, the winners in 2017 and 2018 and losing finalists last year, have been unbeatable this year and showed the awesome strength of their squad by dominating both sides of the draw.
Leander Club won the first of their five finals with a commanding win over Reading University ‘A’ in The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup. Leander were 1¼ lengths up at Barrier (1:54) and stretched the lead to over five lengths. Reading may have spent themselves on Saturday in their surprise semi-final comeback win.
The USA-Australian pair of Meghan Musnicki and Jessica Morrison (California Rowing Club), put on an Olympic pairs masterclass for their young Leander Club opponents. They were 2 ½ lengths up by the Barrier (2:20) and rowed away to win easily. Australia’s Morrison won gold in the Women’s Coxless Four in Tokyo. USA’s Musnicki is a two-time Olympic gold medallist (London and Rio) and five-time World Champion.
University of Washington stayed with Brookes off the start but Brookes’ superior bladework lifted them clear to win The Temple Challenge Cup. Washington led by 2ft at Barrier (1:48) but Brookes reeled them in and were a length up Fawley (1,047m, 9m short of half way). From there they (were soon) five lengths clear by the time the Grandstand roared them home. After their shock exit on the Friday last year, Brookes’ top eight this year won the first of their university’s four finals today with great authority.
Australia’s Olympic bronze medallists, Caleb Antill and Jack Cleary won a high-quality final of The Double Sculls Challenge Cup. It was a contest between two crews who will hope to meet again in the World Championships and Paris Olympics. The Australians were ½ length up at Barrier (1:58) and had stretched that out to over a length by halfway and Great Britain’s Matt Haywood and George Bourne (racing as Nottingham Rowing Club & The Tideway Scullers School) could not find a way back.
St Catherine’s School won the race of the morning… and given the incredible depth of The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy in just its second year, can call themselves the best schoolgirl crew in the world. The Australians win was doubly impressive because their season ends by the beginning of March and so they have had to peak again.
The Australians, the national champions and with three of the national junior eight in the crew, led by ⅓ length at Barrier (2:13), but it was side-by-side against Florida’s impressive Winter Park crew all the way up the 2,112-metre Course. The lead was down to ¼ length at Fawley.
It was the raw aggression of the Australian crew versus the smooth cohesion of Winter Park, who have been flying since they came through the Qualifying Races on Friday. They beat the holders (Headington School) and the favourites (Henley Rowing Club) in a hard route to the final.
Winter Park pushed them all the way and as they entered the Enclosures (450 metres from the finish) looked like they were about to start edging past the Australians, but St Catherine’s responded in powerful fashion, upped their rate, and extended to win by ¾ length.
The Chinese National Rowing Team’s quad won their first ever men’s event… in commanding fashion over the USA composite crew (Texas Rowing Center & Vesper Boat Club). Ha Zhang, Xudi Yi, Zhiyu Liu and Sulitan Adilijian have been the dominant force this year, winning the first and second World Cups and started as overwhelming favourites. On the evidence of this year Henley may well have just crowned one of the next great forces in men’s sculling.
The Chinese quad was 1 ½ lengths up at Barrier (1:51), 2 ½ up by Fawley and then held and controlled to the line, responding to each attack before they had made an impression.
Thames Rowing Club gained revenge for their 2021 defeat in the inaugural year of The Wargrave Challenge Cup by saving the best until last. Thames blasted off the start with a higher rate and maintained it throughout, smashing every event record all the way down the Course.
Thames were a shocking 1 ¼ lengths up by the Barrier (2:00 – a record by 3 seconds), and Leander could make no impression. Thames were at Fawley at 3:23, breaking the old record by 4 seconds and produced a powerful second half on top of all that to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 7:06 (a record by 12 seconds).
Australia’s Olympic gold medallists beat Great Britain in the latest installment of one of rowing’s iconic rivalries – the coxless fours – by the smallest of margins. In one of the closest races in Henley Royal Regatta history, after 2,112 metres it came down to a foot and a photo finish…
It was heartbreak for the young GB boat, racing as Oxford Brookes & Leander, but they set a new benchmark for themselves against an Australian four with three gold medallists from Tokyo (Alex Purnell, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves). The winners of World Cup I versus the winners of World Cup II turned out to be very close indeed.
Australia were up by ¾ length at Barrier (1:53) and a length up by Fawley. The British crew launched their attack down the Enclosures in the final few hundred metres and kept closing before they ran out of water. Just.
The Brown Bears beat the Yale Bulldogs in a high-quality all-American Island final. Brown was ¾ length up at Barrier (2:00) and at a higher rate kept gradually pulling away up the Course to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Brown has been the standout eight this week in an international field of university women’s eights. They set a new record in the second year of the Wargrave, beating Oxford Brookes in the semi-final yesterday and were only a second slower to Barrier and Fawley (3:21) on Sunday.
The UW Huskies gave their huge Henley team (they brought nine crews to this year’s Regatta) something to cheer about by winning another nail biter in The Visitors’ Challenge Cup and setting a new Course record of 6:26.
The British boat, including three of St Paul’s record breakers from 2018, were a canvas ahead at Barrier (1:52) and a length ahead at Fawley, but the Huskies charged down the Enclosures.
Washington timed their charge to the line better and edged ahead at the Grandstand. The Tideway Scullers & Molesey crew timed their comeback just too late and ran out of water as they surged on the line.
This was a fantastic race between two development crews, who will be hoping to represent their countries – and renew the contest – at the U23 World Championships.
China’s women’s quad confirmed their quad sculls dominance at this Regatta by winning The Princess Grace Challenge Cup. They were pushed surprisingly hard by a young Australia quad but China always looked able to respond to attacks. They were 1 ¼ lengths up at Barrier (2:02) but Australia were able to take back ½ length by the Grandstand as they pushed hard.
China’s women’s quad became the first ever Chinese winner at Henley in 2019 and their crew included three Tokyo gold medallists – Yunxia Chen, Yang Lyu and Xiao Tong Cui. The fourth member of the crew is Shiyu Lu, who raced in the Women’s Coxless Four in Tokyo.
The next post will cover the thirteen post-lunch races. Times, verdicts etc for the finals are my recent post, “A Sustained Wish to Excel“.