The best known regatta in the world
Regatta
starts in
Grand finale in store

The scene is set at the 164th Henley Royal Regatta for a Grand Challenge Cup final to savour.

In today’s semi-finals the University of Washington beat the Polish National eight racing as WKS Zawisza & RTW Lotto and will now meet the Great Britain men’s eight racing here as Leander Club & Molesey B.C.The Grand Challenge Cup

The British combination, stroked by double Olympic champion, Andrew Triggs Hodge, overcame the Poles by a very narrow margin a fortnight ago in the World Cup at Eton-Dorney.  Since then the Olympic men’s four champion Alex Gregory and the Olympic men’s pair bronze medallist George Nash, have joined the crew.  So a close race is predicted.

GB Rowing Team Men’s Chief Coach Jurgen Grobler said:  “Fourteen days ago, we were just ahead of the Poles and here Washington beat them by over a length. But we’ve made some changes in the eight and the guys have been going well.”

Washington coach Michael Callaghan said:  “We knew the Poles would be pretty quick off the start and we tried to stay with them. But it was in the middle part of the course that we took some really solid strokes.”

Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell, Scott Durant, Matt Tarrant and Alan Sinclair will feature in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours, having beaten a strong New Zealand outfit today.

They now face three of the crew from South Africa who won gold at the London Olympic Games in the lightweight four. Again a close encounter is in prospect.

Tideway Sculler and Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell could have mixed emotions as he goes to the start line of tomorrow’s Diamond Challenge Cup for men’s single scullers.  He faces Aleksandr Aleksandrov who was fifth in the Olympic final and the two men are close friends who teamed up to race the Head of the River recently.

Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan today toppled Luka Spik of Slovenia in the semi-finals.  He created a modest lead early in the race and then had enough power and pace to move out to victory in the final phase of the race.

New Zealand’s Olympic champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, as expected, are in the final of the Silver Goblets for men’s pairs.  They were comfortable winners against South African opposition today.Murray & Bond

Britain’s inaugural female Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover will also feature on the race-card tomorrow.  She is racing with twice Olympic silver medallist Frances Houghton plus GB newcomers Vicky Meyer-Laker and Polly Swann in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup as a Leander Club & Bath Minerva composite.

Somewhat against the form guide, they will race the crew from California Rowing Club in tomorrow’s final who overcame the GB squad quadruple scull in today’s semis.

There was heartache today for Thames R.C. in the Thames Challenge Cup, they lost to Griffen B.C. by a mere canvas.

Packed enclosures today witnessed a sensational schoolboy race between Hampton School and St Edwards’ School.  Eventually the latter proved too strong and will now race Abingdon School who, in the style of the British Lions, won today against Australian opposition from Scotch College, Melbourne.

Latymer Upper School set a record in winning their Junior Women’s Quadruple Scull semi-final against Gloucester R.C and now race Headington School in tomorrow’s final.

Earlier in the day Bill Lucas and Matt Langridge showed the progress they have made since coming together for the Eton Dorney World Cup just two weeks ago when they handed a heavy defeat to the Chambers brothers in the Double Sculls Challenge at Henley Royal Regatta this morning.

The margin of victory over the Chambers siblings – Peter and Richard  - who are representing Leander Club here but who more usually compete as the GB Rowing Team lightweight men’s double, was bigger than expected.

Coach Mark Banks was delighted with his open-weight charges and says they are looking forward to a close final tomorrow with New Zealanders Arms and Manson as the opposition.

Saturday crowdsA Leander-Molesey composite club eight featuring many of those hoping to emerge into the national squad put in a great performance to row through the University of Washington junior varsity eight to gain a place in the final of the Ladies’ Plate.

“Rowing at bow I was the only one in the boat who could see Washington at the Barrier but our rhythm was so good, I knew we would come through”, said University of London’s Oliver Cook.

A tinge of drama marked a race umpired today by Olympic legend and Regatta Steward Sir Matt Pinsent.  A clash between the two Visitors’ fours from Harvard ‘B’ and Thames R.C. during which the latter crew broke a blade has meant a re-row which Harvard ‘B’ won. They will now race Harvard ‘A’ days after the death of their legendary coach Harry Parker.

“They seemed to come into our water and Sir Matt may have been warning them but anyway we broke a blade and we must race this evening”, said Thames R.C.’s Pete Randolph.

Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova is through to tomorrow’s final, overcoming local favourite and former GB Olympian Debbie Flood who is this year’s Leander Club captain.  She will meet New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, fourth in the London Games final, who beat another Leander rower and current GB international Vicky Thornley.

Twigg said:  “I expected Victoria to be pretty strong opposition, she did well in the World Cup at Dorney. I expected her to go out fast which she did. It was a matter of staying relaxed, composed and rowing through.'

'It's been a busy few weeks for me. I was in Amsterdam last week and I'm doing four regattas in four weekends, which is challenging. So it's all about recovering and making the most of what we're doing before the World Championships in South Korea.'

Legendary British coach Mike Spracklen was named recently as the new Russian NationalCoach and takes up his duties next season. He took the opportunity at the Regatta this morning to watch as the students from St Petersburg Universitywere beaten by a strong crew from the Netherlands, D.S.R. Laga.

Racing starts tomorrow at 11.30 with 20 races scheduled. Prize-giving will be at 16.30.

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For further information contact Caroline Searle or Miranda Edwards in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 572153 or 01491 571147 or press@hrr.co.uk or 07831 755351

By John Simm
6th Jul, 7:15pm
Lucas and Langridge win battle of the weights

Bill Lucas and Matt Langridge showed the progress they have made since coming together for the Eton Dorney World Cup just two weeks ago when they handed a heavy defeat to the Chambers brothers in the Double Sculls Challenge at Henley Royal Regatta this morning.

The margin of victory over the Chambers siblings - Peter and Richard  - who are representing Leander Club here but who more usually compete as the GB Rowing Team lightweight men’s double, was bigger than expected. Lucas & Langridge

Coach Mark Banks was delighted with his open-weight charges and says they are looking forward to a close final tomorrow with New Zealanders Arms and Manson as the opposition.

A Leander-Molesey composite club eight featuring many of those hoping to emerge into the national squad put in a great performance to row through the University of Washington junior varsity eight to gain a place in the final of the Ladies’ Plate.

“Rowing at bow I was the only one in the boat who could see Washington at the Barrier but our rhythm was so good, I knew we would come through”, said University of London’s Oliver Cook.

A tinge of drama marked a race umpired today by Olympic legend and Regatta Steward Sir Matt Pinsent.  A clash between the two Visitors’ fours from Harvard ‘B’ and Thames R.C. during which the latter crew broke a blade has meant a re-row scheduled later today.

“They seemed to come into our water and Sir Matt may have been warning them but anyway we broke a blade and we must race this evening”, said Thames R.C.’s Pete Randolph.

Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova is through to tomorrow’s final, overcoming local favourite and former GB Olympian Debbie Flood who is this year’s Leander Club captain.  She will meet New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, fourth in the London Games final, who beat another Leander rower and current GB international Vicky Thornley.

Twigg said:  “I expected Victoria to be pretty strong opposition, she did well in the World Cup at Dorney. I expected her to go out fast which she did. It was a matter of staying relaxed, composed and rowing through.'

'It's been a busy few weeks for me. I was in Amsterdam last week and I'm doing four regattas in four weekends, which is challenging. So it's all about recovering and making the most of what we're doing before the World Championships in South Korea.'

Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan is also in tomorrow’s finals in the Diamond Challenge Cup for male single scullers.  He toppled Luka Spik of Slovenia in today’s semi-final.  Aleksandrov created a modest lead early in the race and then had enough power and pace to move out to victory in the final phase of the race.

Legendary British coach Mike Spracklen was named recently as the new Russian NationalCoach and takes up his duties next season. He took the opportunity at the Regatta this morning to watch as the students from St Petersburg Universitywere beaten by a strong crew from the Netherlands, D.S.R. Laga.

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For further information contact Caroline Searle or Miranda Edwards in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 572153 or 01491 571147 or press@hrr.co.uk or 07831 755351

By John Simm
6th Jul, 3:26pm
Inside Lines: Friday 5th July, 2013

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Headlines

On the sunniest day yet at the 164th Henley Royal Regatta an Olympic champion fell by the wayside during a scintillating day of racing.
 

Olympic champion finds his comeback tough

All the leading British crews moved safely through their opening rounds at Henley Royal Regatta on a day when New Zealand’s top boats met mixed fortunes.

Olympic Champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray continued their peerless run since 2009 in the men’s pair by winning their heat of the Silver Goblets Challenge Cup but by the time they went to the start their fellow 2012 Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale had been knocked out.

Drysdale found the going tough on his competitive return to international racing, suffering defeat to Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan in the Diamond Challenge Cup for men’s single scullers

The New Zealander took a break from training after winning gold in London and tried his hand at triathlons and other endurance events.  Aleksandrov was fifth in that Olympic final but won with something to spare today.

“I hate losing but I am actually quite pleased with the standard I am at now.  This sport is so hard it would be crazy to come back with only a month’s training and beat the top guys”, said Drysdale.

“Mahe is a hero of mine. He’s a great guy with a big heart and I still feel really confused as to how I beat him”, said Aleksandrov who will now race the experienced and multi-medal winning Luka Spik of Slovenia, a potentially gripping encounter.

Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell progressed safely in the same event despite one false start. 

Mirka Knapkova, the Olympic women’s single sculls champion, is also through in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup. In the other half of the draw Vicky Thornley of GB will now race Emma Twigg in the semi-finals. This will be an experience for Thornley who has gone solo this year after racing variously in quadruple sculls and women’s eights in the past two or three years.

The British women’s eight, competing here as Leander Club & Oxford Brookes University was comfortable in victory in front of the packed and at times vocal enclosures, against a crew composed of Newcastle University and ASR Nereus from Holland.

Olympian Beth Rodford said:  “I think Henley is a really important part of our season but we will always respect the opposition. It’s a good feeling when you get up on a crew but you never know what’s going to happen and those booms can be scary places at times”.

Olympic Champion Helen Glover is racing here in a Leander-Minerva Bath crew in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for women’s quadruple sculls.  The crew also includes twice Olympic silver medallist, Frances Houghton and recent world cup gold medallists Polly Swann and Vicky Meyer-Laker.  They came safely through their heat as did the Chambers brothers from Northern Ireland racing here in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.

Swann said:  “Jumping from a pair into a quad is a bit of a shock to the system but I am getting lots of technical tips which are a big help”.

The closest race of the morning session was probably that between Molesey B.C. and Vesta in the Remenham Challenge Cup with the former taking victory against the selected crew. 

One of Britain’s strongest University crews, Oxford Brookes, were defeated today by the Dutch students from D.S.R. Laga from the Netherlands in the Temple Challenge Cup.

In the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights, Hampton School took revenge by three-quarters of a length at the finish against their 2012 nemesis, Radley College, and now progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

In the Visitors’ Challenge Cup  for men’s fours Thames R.C. put in a magnificent effort to defeat Cambridge University, featuring four Blues.

There was a big upset in the Fawley Challenge Cup when the juniors of the strong favourites, Leander Club, caught a crab and broke a blade, just after the start and were unable to complete the course. Their opposition from Maidenhead RC now progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Today’s results have thrown up a potentially fascinating encounter in tomorrow’s Double Sculls Challenge Cup with the GB lightweight sculling Chambers brothers, Peter and Richard, facing the GB open-weight double of Bill Lucas and Matt Langridge.

Tomorrow also looks set to produce a blistering semi-final in the Grand Challenge Cup in predicted soaring temperatures between the University of Washington and the Polish national eight as well as tantalizing action in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours in which the GB four take on New Zealand and South Africa meet NZ’s other crew in the opposing semi-final. The South African crew contains three of the four rowers who won Olympic lightweight men’s gold in London.

In the always hotly-contested Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights the semi-final between Hampton and St Edwards should raise the noise level along the banks.
 

A wobble before a win

You’re sitting on the start at Henley Royal Regatta and about to go head to head with Georgi Bozhilov, one of the world’s fastest scullers. Your nerves are on edge – and have been now for a few days about a contest that you know will go all the way. The Umpire calls: “Attention” but the wait for the “go” seems to take for ever. So you take matters into your own hands – a little ‘squeeze’ off the start never hurt anybody…

Well for Alan Campbell, the Olympic bronze medallist in single sculls, it nearly spelt disaster. The stake boat boy holding his stern did not let go. So instead of moving off at his normal blistering pace, he completely lost his balance. His rigger dipped below the water. “I very nearly fell in.” explained the Ulsterman. “Bozhilov went off the start ahead of me. But then the umpire called us back and awarded me a false start. I’ve got no complaints about that. It was my fault”, said Campbell.

But on the restart, it was another matter. “I was really pleased with the middle of my race. I’d give it an 8/10. But I felt I could move whenever I wanted”, he said of his win by three lengths. Campbell revealed that he had been concerned about racing Bozhilov for some time. “Henley’s so different to the World Cup, where you only find out who you’re racing the night before. But here I’ve known about this race for a long time.”

Nerves apart, Campbell was unapologetic about being on the ‘easier’ side of the draw. “I’ve definitely got the easier side of the draw this year. But in 2009 I had to race Olaf Tufte, the Olympic Champion in the semi-final and then Mahe Drysdale, the World Champion, in the final and that was tough.”

Drysdale was defeated today by Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbajan whom he described as a “good, young talent”.

And Drysdale went on to give Inside Lines a unique insight into how the rest of the season might pan out for him. “Look I’m not even selected for the Worlds yet. I’ve got trials back home at the end of July. But if I do get selected, realistically my aim will be to make the final and just be around the medal zone. That way I’ll be in good shape for Rio.”
 

Multi-tasking – men can’t do it?

“Multi-tasking: men can’t do it”.  That was the confident riposte from Zoe De Toledo as the cox of the British women’s eight swapped her lycra for a long dress and moved seamlessly from a heat of the Remenham Challenge Cup to the Henley press box.

The former Oxford cox is tweeting and writing copy for Rowing Voice here at Henley and confessed to being: “quite interested in journalism as a potential career.”

On the water, De Toledo’s crew seemed to have an easy task and won their heat comfortably. But there was no underestimating the importance of the race both for the 25 year old cox and the British women. “What was interesting was that a couple of the girls said they were quite nervous at the start. That’s Henley for you”, explained De Toledo. “ But with no eights race at the Dorney World Cup, this regatta takes on a real significance for us – especially with Lucerne next week.”

And De Toledo candidly explained that after her experiences in the 2012 Boat race, she was now more calm. “ I’m pretty relaxed around racing. The Boat Race stuff was such high pressure and with it going so badly wrong afterwards, I’ve learnt to be more relaxed in the coxing seat.”

And what does her crew think about her multi-tasking? “You’ll have to ask them but rowing exercises one part of my brain and I need something like this to keep me on my toes. Particularly if - fingers crossed - I will be coxing up until Rio.” She smiled.
 

Watkins enjoys as she expects

Another British rower – or more accurately currently former British rower - with a smile on her face at Henley was Anna Watkins. The woman who together with her partner, Kathernine Grainger, thrilled the British public by winning Olympic Gold at Dorney Lake last year, was taking time out at the Royal Regatta. “ It’s really lovely being on the other side. I’ve never taken it in properly as a spectator”, explained the 30 year old.

Watkins, who is expecting her first child in September, sneaked into the press box to watch her former teammates from the British women’s eight race down the course and said: “When I was a student I came here to watch James Cracknell and Matt Pinsent race here in the pair. But that was before I was so immersed in the world of rowing.”

Watkins is not the only 2012 Olympic medallist to be expecting a baby in 2013. “Both Julia Michalska and Fie Udby Erichsen are pregnant too. You can imagine as the three of us rowed together in the Head of the Charles last October there were some wry comments.” 

Watson is uncertain if she will return to the sport in time for Rio “Goodness knows what I’m going to be feeling in six months time”, she said.
 

The Colour Purple?

Dutch rowing is going through a purple – or should we say orange (?) – patch at the moment. They have won a hatful of medals in the recent European Championships and have some very fast crews at Henley Royal Regatta. One of the most impressive performances here so far has come from the students of Laga. The Delft-based crew scored a narrow victory over an exceptionally strong Oxford Brookes eight in the Temple Challenge Cup.

“It was our best race of the tournament so far”, explained Aschwin Brandt, the Laga strokeman. “We just kept really relaxed the whole way down the course, even though Brookes were putting us under enormous pressure.”

Brandt was under no illusion as to why his crew was going so fast. “We haven’t had a single day off in the last six weeks. More than that, we are trying to emulate the USA’s training methods. Previously, Dutch crews have been known more for their good technique than their physical condition. But we are trying to change that.” On Saturday, the Dutch will face the Russians from St Petersburg in the semi final.
 

Rowing for enjoyment

One of the closest and most exciting races of the Friday programme came early in the day when the women’s eights from Vesta and Molesey went head to head in the Remenham Challenge Cup. There was only ever a few feet between the two crews and the lead changed hands several times. At the finish, it was the Molesey who prevailed by just a quarter of a length.

That result was an upset, as Vesta were a selected crew. But it was a thrill for the 18 year old Lily Cocks. “I’m exhausted but so happy”, said the Esher College student.

“I’ve learnt to row at Molesey as part of their junior scheme, so to get to the Saturday at Henley in the Remenham is a really big deal.” On Saturday, Molesey will face a crew from Tees and Agecroft rowing clubs. But Cocks was not at all fazed by that challenge: “Winning close races gives you so much confidence. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
 

A doubles delight in store

One of the most exciting races on Saturday’s card looks like being the semi final of the double sculls between two top British crews. The open weight double of Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas will go head to head against Peter and Richard Chambers: their lightweight team-mates.

Matt Langridge explained that neither expect any quarter to be given: “It’s always a little bit more tricky as heavyweights because you’re kind of expected to win but it’s going to be a tough race, we know they’re a quick double.”  The Chambers brothers have genuine pace and led the final of the Dorney World Cup until the final stages. So a good result at Henley is really important for them as well.

So for both British crews, it’s more than ‘bragging’ rights that are at stake. And Langridge’s final comments reflected that. “Obviously it’s always a good match putting heavyweights against lightweights but we’re definitely looking forward to it.” And with half a smile on his face, the Olympic bronze and silver medalist added: “We want to put them in their place!”


More multi-tasking women?

Another group of multi-tasking women at this year’s Regatta includes Olympic women’s pair champion Helen Glover.  She is better known for her rowing rather than sculling skills. But here she is racing in a quadruple scull, together with Polly Swann, her regular pairs partner, and the British women’s double of Frances Houghton and Victoria Meyer-Laker. On Friday, they comfortably beat their opposition from Nottingham Rowing Club.

But as far as Glover is concerned rowing in a quad could really help her speed in the pair. “We’ve hardly been in the quad at all. It’s actually really good for us though because we need to be versatile, I think it improves the boats that we go back into. The change can help me really improve, so that’s very exciting” she said.

And for Glover it was important to get as much out of the first year of an Olympic cycle as possible. “To row Henley we had to do it in a quad and this year was the only year we could do it, because obviously come Olympic year you don’t want to be switching around boats. It was a good opportunity to do something a bit different and the coaches are open to us becoming more rounded athletes”.
And the Olympic champion was excited to sample the atmosphere around the Royal Regatta too. “There’s lots of posh dresses! I feel really under-dressed coming here in my tracksuit. No it’s really nice. It’s very different to the international rowing world and it’s really new to me so I’m kind of getting used to it - the fact that there’s lots of tradition, and things you should and shouldn’t do. And with the weather, it’s a weekend everyone looks forward to”.
 

Under the radar but a real success story

One of the main success stories of this year’s Regatta has gone very much under the radar. Will Miller of Northeastern University suffered two broken elbows in a horrific bicycle accident on his way to work late last year. Miller, the Boston born boy, was hit by a car which pulled out in front of him only a few minutes from his work place. He was able to get to work after the accident and told me how he thought he had only hurt his right arm a bit, so tried to use his left arm to type and work with. Fortunately for Miller, he did later check himself into hospital to find that he had in fact fractured both of his elbows.

Miller told Inside Lines: “It took time to get over and I’m still kind of nursing the right one a little bit and it really was a rough time, as you can imagine, but I think they’re healing up fine. Obviously I had to take a bit of time off from rowing so they could heal properly which was frustrating for me”.

In terms of the race itself, Miller and his team were unable to beat a very strong ‘Harvard B’ crew but he thought that his team “got off to a pretty quick start, we got up and that’s maybe where we could have used a bit more training together as a boat because that’s where the wheels fell off a little bit, but it was fun. Fun to get out there and have a go at it”

‘Harvard B’ now go on to race in the semi-finals tomorrow and, very gracious in defeat, Miller has described them as a “very good crew” along with wishing them “all the best for the rest of the Regatta”.
 

And, finally, what is it like racing two icons of the sport?

For a mere mortal racing against New Zealand’s Olympic Champion men’s pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond must seem like the equivalent of racing Usain Bolt in the 100m sprint.

They are arguably the best rowing pair in the world at the moment and Inside Lines caught up with British duo Matthew Bedford and Wilf Kimberley who described their loss to the Kiwis today as “inevitable” but nevertheless gave it a really good go and were at one stage leading the race.

Describing the race Bedford went on to say: “They rowed through us but we thought to ourselves, we probably won’t beat them, so we’d have them to the Barrier and see what happens after that.”

“It’s pretty intimidating at the start when you’re lined up next to them, but yeah, they’re great guys. Really friendly off the water and at the start of the race, saying hello and good luck and that sort of stuff, although they’re intimidating they really are nice guys”.

The losing team were also very quick to praise the crowds watching them stating “even when you’re four lengths down going past the Stewards, they still clap for you and shout praise which is really nice”

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For further information contact Caroline Searle or Miranda Edwards in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 572153 or 01491 571147 or press@hrr.co.uk or 07831 755351
 

By John Simm
5th Jul, 8:55pm
Drysdale out but Bond and Murray continue their run on a day when all the leading GB boats progress.

All the leading British crews moved safely through their opening rounds at Henley Royal Regatta on a day when New Zealand’s top boats met mixed fortunes.

Olympic Champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray continued their peerless run since 2009 in the men’s pair by winning their heat of the Silver Goblets Challenge Cup but by the time they went to the start,their fellow 2012 Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale had been knocked out.Murray & Bond

Drysdale found the going tough on his competitive return to international racing, suffering defeat to Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan in the Diamond Challenge Cup for men’s single scullers.

The New Zealander took a break from training after winning gold in London and tried his hand at triathlons and other enduranceevents.  Aleksandrov was fifth in that Olympic final but won with something to spare today.

“I hate losing but I am actually quite pleased with the standard I am at now.  This sport is so hard it would be crazy to come back with only a month’s training and beat the top guys”, said Drysdale.

“Mahe is a hero of mine. He’s a great guy with a big heart and I still feel really confused as to how I beat him”, said Aleksandrov.

Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell progressed safely in the same event despite one false start.

Mirka Knapkova, the Olympic women’s single scull champion, is also through in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for female single scullers. In the other half of the draw GB’s Vicky Thornley is through to race experienced Emma Twigg of New Zealand. This will be an experience for Thornley who has gone solo this year after racing variously in quadruple sculls and women’s eights in the past two or three years.

Four of GB’s world cup gold medallists have combined here in a women’s quadruple scull – Helen Glover, Polly Swann, Frances Houghton and Vicky Meyer-Laker – and were dominant today.  The former duo have moved into the quad from the GB pair and the latter from the GB women’s double scull.

Swann said:  “Jumping from a pair into a quad is a bit of a shock to the system but I am getting lots of technical tips which are a big help”.

In the Visitors’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours Thames R.C. put in a magnificent effort to defeat Cambridge University, featuring four Blues.

There was a big upset in the Fawley Challenge Cup when the juniors of the strong favourites, Leander Club, caught a crab and broke a blade just after the start and were unable to complete the course. Their opposition from Maidenhead RC now progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Today’s results have thrown up a potentially fascinating encounter in tomorrow’s Double Sculls Challenge Cup with the GB lightweight sculling Chambers brothers, Peter and Richard, facing the GB open-weight double of Bill Lucas and Matt Langridge.Chambers & Chambers

Tomorrow looks set to produce a blistering semi-final in the Grand Challenge Cup for men’s eights in predicted soaring temperatures between the University of Washington and the Polish national eight as well as tantalizing action in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours in which the GB four take on New Zealand and South Africa meet NZ’s other crew in the opposing semi-final. The South African crew contains three of the four rowers who won Olympic lightweight men’s gold in London.

In the always hotly-contested Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights the semi-final between Hampton and St Edwards Schools should raise the noise level along the banks.

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For further information contact Caroline Searle or Miranda Edwards in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 572153 or 01491 571147 or press@hrr.co.uk or 07831 755351

By John Simm
5th Jul, 7:28pm
Olympic Champion Drysdale makes shock exit from Henley Royal Regatta

Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale found the going tough on his competitive return to international racing at Henley Royal Regatta today, suffering defeat to Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan in the Diamond Challenge Cup for men’s single scullers.

The New Zealander took a break from training after winning gold in London and tried his hand at triathlons and other enduranceevents.  Aleksandrov was fifth in that Olympic final but won with something to spare today.M Drysdale

I hate losing but I am actually quite pleased with the standard I am at now.  This sport is so hard it would be crazy to come back with only a month’s training and beat the top guys”, said Drysdale.

“Mahe is a hero of mine. He’s a great guy with a big heart and I still feel really confused as to how I beat him”, said Aleksandrov.

Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell, also had a rocky opener today. He almost toppled in during a false start before recovering and winning on the re-start against Giorgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria, a world cup finalist 10 days ago.

“I was nervous for the race”, explained the popular Campbell who is renowned for his love of the Regatta. “The starter held us for a long time and I went before the “go” and because the stake boat boy didn’t let go I very nearly fell in.  Luckily I was just given a false start.  But I was very pleased with what I was doing race-wise in the middle of the course”.

Many of Britain’s other top guns also had their first outings since the London Games on the sun-basked, world-famous course today.

The British women’s eight, competing here as Leander Club & Oxford Brookes University was comfortable in victory, in front of the packed and at times vocal enclosures, against a crew composed of Newcastle University and ASR Nereus from Holland.

Olympian Beth Rodford said:  “I think Henley is a really important part of our season but we will always respect the opposition. It’s a good feeling when you get up on a crew but you never know what’s going to happen and those booms can be scary places at times”.

Olympic Champion Helen Glover is racing here in a Leander-Minerva Bath crew in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for women’s quadruple sculls.  The crew also includes twice Olympic silver medallist, Frances Houghton and recent world cup gold medallists Polly Swann and Vicky Meyer-Laker.  They came safely through their heat as did the Chambers brothers from Northern Ireland racing here in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.Remenham Friday
Swann said:  “Jumping from a pair into a quad is a bit of a shock to the system but I am getting lots of technical tips which are a big help”.

The closest race of the morning session was probably that between Molesey B.C. and Vesta in the Remenham Challenge Cup with the former taking victory against the selected crew.

One of Britain’s strongest University crews, Oxford Brookes, were defeated today by the Dutch students from D.S.R. Laga from the Netherlands in the Temple Challenge Cup.

In the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboyeights, Hampton School took revenge by three-quarters of a length at the finish against their 2012 nemesis, Radley College, and now progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

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For further information contact Caroline Searle or Miranda Edwards in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 572153 or 01491 571147 or press@hrr.co.uk or 07831 755351

By John Simm
5th Jul, 3:12pm
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