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Inside Lines: Wednesday 2nd July, 2014

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal Regatta

Today at Henley

The opening day of the 2014 Regatta featured an 80-race programme contested under largely blue skies.  Molesey B.C’s tight victory over Norwich R.C. in the Fawley Challenge Cup for junior men’s quads was one of the races of the day.

Revenge for Nereus

Dutch crew A.S.R Nereus produced the result of the opening day at the 175th anniversary Henley Royal Regatta today when they beat the University of California, Berkeley, in the Temple Challenge Cup for student men’s eights.

The verdict reversed the result in the final of the event three years ago and the damage was done at the very start with Nereus taking an early lead before going on to win.

“There were some revenge feelings but I think we can now focus on making the weekend”, said coach Teun van der Kroef.

Crews from all over the globe have arrived in Henley for this special Regatta.  A crew from Japan were amongst 20 international crew wins today.

Technique takes Japanese crew to victory

Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University has long been a centre of rowing excellence but the award of the 2020 Olympic Games to the Japanese capital has added an extra level of motivation to both their training and racing.

“I’m very excited because the Olympic Games are coming to Tokyo and I want to row in my home Olympic Games”, explained Baku Hiraki. The six man from the Hitotsubashi crew had every right to think he might just be there after his crew had produced one of the morning’s outstanding performances to beat Cornell University’s ‘B’ crew by half a length in the Temple Challenge Cup for men’s eights.

What the Japanese crew gave away in terms of weight  to their American rivals - more than two stone a man - they more than made up for in technique. And the higher rating crew were never headed.

“I was very pleased with our race”, explained Hiraki, who is one of the three men from the Japanese crew who hopes to compete in the World Under 23 Championships for his country. “We don’t see events like Henley in Japanese rowing and being here is a very exciting experience.”

Hiraki’s crew train and race to the north of Tokyo on the course where the 1964 Olympic Regatta was held. Asked whether the Olympics might be held on the same course in 2020, Hiraki replied: “It’s a bit controversial because a new course would cost so much money but I think in the end they will build it and we can welcome the world of rowing to Tokyo.”

Former R.G.S Wycombe school boy Coaches ‘A’ crew to second round

R.G.S High Wycombe beat Wallingford RC’s ‘B’ crew in the first round of the Fawley Challenge Cup on Wednesday morning. The Junior men’s quadruple sculls is R.G.S through and through, as their coach Geoff Baker was a schoolboy there until 1953.

Baker also coaches at Leander and won a Commonwealth gold medal in the men’s double sculls in 1958. He commented on the performance of the boys after the race, saying: “The first race was really good. It was much as I expected them to row. The crew actually has two really good stroke men in it, so the rhythm is good and I was confident they would be able to maintain that all the way up the course, as they have in training”.

Baker described the preparation for Henley as “tenuous”, as the Regatta comes immediately after A-levels so it is difficult for the boys to strike a balance between racing and studying. R.G.S is a “very high achieving academic institution”, so the onus at this time of year is on results in the classroom as opposed to on the water. This did not deter the quad, however, winning by over two lengths in a time of 7:20.

It has also been a significant challenge for Baker to advance the R.G.S rowing club as the school predominantly focuses on rugby - the most recent example of the strength of the rugby club is London Wasps and England winger Christian Wade. “They aim to be the best rugby state school in the country and as a result rowing has been at a very low standing and it’s taken me ten years to get to where we are now”, said Baker.

However, the success of rowing at the school is increasing. “Boys come in at the bottom of the school now and realise that rowing can give them just as much prestige within the school as playing rugby can. It’s taken me 10 years and it’s been a struggle, but when I have a day like today it makes it worthwhile”, said Baker.

Sons of the fathers

Three of the men who won the Grand Challenge Cup at the Regatta in 1991 faced more than the usual nerves at Henley today. Martin Cross, Richard Stanhope and Jon Singfield all watched their sons compete in tough races in the opening heats. And all three dealt with the tension of watching their offspring perform in different ways.

Singfield, the coach of the St Edward’s School eight preferred not to watch his son Rupert in their tough head to head race against St Paul’s School. “I listened to the race from the boat tents”, said Singfield, who went on to explain: “It’s difficult for me because I’m his coach. I actually think he listens to me more as a coach than when he’s around the house”. After his crew’s impressive victory over the London School, Rupert Singfield  said: “ Now I’ve grown into my Dad coaching me and I can just treat him like any other coach. It doesn’t stop me from doing what I need to do, so it’s good".

Cross, working here in the Press office, watched his son, Frank, compete in a heat of the Wyfold Challenge Cup from the umpire’s launch. And there was no disguising the pride in Cross’ voice – despite the fact that his son’s four from Tideway Scullers were defeated by Cardiff RC. It felt great to see him out there on the Henley course. The important thing was that Frank and his crew performed well”, explained Cross. 

James Stanhope was the first of the trio of sons to come down the track in a heat of the Temple Challenge Cup. His Oxford Brookes’ ‘B’ eight had an extremely tough draw and acquitted themselves very well going down to a one-length defeat to The University of Michigan. James’ Dad was actually umpiring the race after the Brookes Vs Michigan contest and could therefore not watch his son’s race. But afterwards, James said: “He’s won stuff here and I’d like to emulate that, so it’s pretty cool to race here with your Dad around.” 

A Touch of Rowing Royalty

Tim Koch, author of the blog “Hear the Boat Sing”, played matchmaker for Henley Royal Regatta today when he invited as his guests daughter Sue and granddaughter Molly of Olympic medallist Bert Bushnell and Tizzy, daughter of his 1948 Olympic gold winning double sculls partner, Richard Burnell, as well as John Beresford, son of Jack Beresford who won five medals at five successive Olympic Games including three golds.

“I guess you could say we are part of rowing royalty”, quipped Sue Bushnell.  “My father had three daughters and six grand-daughters but none of  us have really turned to rowing competitively although we all rowed as a pastime”.

Oh to be a coach now Henley is here!

“My hands were shaking, I was sweating profusely and on a scale of nerves from 1-10, I think I was a 15”, said Teun Van Der Kroef.

It’s a tough job being a rowing coach. But after his A.S.R. Nereus eight beat an exceptionally strong Univ of California, Berkeley, crew in the Temple Challenge Cup, Van Der Kroef could at least draw breath. It was such an exciting race”, explained the Dutch coach, who told his crew that this would be their toughest race – if they could reach the weekend.

“In the talk before they got on the water, I told them that it was for moments like this that they had got up every morning to row at 7am.”

It was apparent to Van Der Kroef that his men were very nervous before the race but they channelled their nerves and produced an amazing start. It gave them just the edge they needed on the men from California and the Dutch were never headed. At the finish, despite repeated “Cal” attacks, Nereus secured a 3/4 Length verdict.

And there was a bit of history to add a real frisson to the contest. Three years ago, an eight from “Cal Berkeley” had beaten Nereus in the final and as Van Der Kroef explained: “There were some revenge feelings but I think we can now focus on making the weekend”.

Aussie Shake-up

“Well mate that race was a fair shake of the sauce bottle for us”, said Angus Widdicombe in a tongue in cheek verdict after his Mercantile RC crew recorded a three and three-quarter length win over Thames RC’s “C” crew.

It was a performance that more than justified his eight’s  status as one of the most fancied crews in the Thames Challenge Cup.

The Victorian crew has been together since May. Since then, in the words of their coach, Dave Fraumane: ‘We turned ourselves from a group of individuals into a close-knit brotherhood”.

In Fraumane’s eyes that cohesion was evident down the track today: “We stayed long and connected and were patient with every stroke. That’s important in the early heats because the competition will only get tougher.” Awaiting Mercantile in their half of the draw are the American and German powerhouses of Union Boat Club and Frankfurt Germania.

But Fraumane, who spent some time coxing Australia’s most famous rowing combination, “the Oarsome Foursome”, feels his men have a real heritage to draw on. “Having those guys around the club has been great for us and there’s a real model of how we want to move the boat”, he explained. Since the Victorian club arrived in the UK that slick, easy movement has been apparent in their victories at Marlow Regatta, as well as on the Henley course. It’s given them confidence, too. “We didn’t come from the other side of the world with any other intention but to win this event mate”, explained Widdicombe. It will take a very fast crew to stop the Aussies. 


Colwick Park Lifeguards to the rescue

A Warrington R.C. rower will be grateful today for the support of the Regatta’s stalwart Lifeguard service who have supported the Regatta for many years.  The Colwick Park Lifeguards leapt into action when the rower had an asthma attack part-way through the race.  He was duly rescued and taken swiftly and safely to the land-based medical centre whre he was given further treatment. 

Blue Peter in close-run race

Blue Peter, the BBC programme, decided that they would celebrate the 175th anniversary of Henley Royal Regatta with us by training to race on the world famous course.  Presenters Radzi and Lyndsey were coached for a few months by the team at Agecroft Rowing Club and took a day out to get some hot tips from the GB Rowing Team at Caversham last month.

Today they raced against each other in mixed double sculls with rowers xyz and xyz from Agecroft. Boy was it a close race! Not even their “mentor”, Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover, could have expected them to race so well. Many said it was a dead heat. To find out for certain, tune in to Blue Peter on July 17th.

And Finally…

Spotted at Henley today

Alan Titchmarsh of TV gardening fame,  “Lizzy Yarnold who won Skeleton gold at the Olympic Winter Games and, of course, those intrepid Blue Peter Presenters, Radzi and Lyndsey.

The press office at the Regatta can be contacted on: or 01491 636121

Staff on duty this year are: 

Press Assistants: Shaunagh Craig, Amy Woodman, Catherine Maude, Alicia John.
Broadcast assistant: Claire Acklng 
Inside Lines writers: Martin Cross, Matt Burrows. 
Press Officer: Caroline Searle

By John Simm
2nd Jul, 8:47pm
Revenge is sweet – three years on

Dutch crew A.S.R Nereus produced the result of the opening day at the 175th anniversary Henley Royal Regatta today when they beat the University of California, Berkeley, in the Temple Challenge Cup for student men’s eights.

The verdict reversed the result in the final of the event three years ago and the damage was done at the very start with Nereus taking an early lead before going on to win.

“There were some revenge feelings but I think we can now focus on making the weekend”, said coach Teun van der Kroef.

Crews from all over the globe have arrived in Henley for this special Regatta.  A crew from Japan were amongst 20 winners from 28 international crews in action today.

The two Olympic Champions in the single scull, Mirka Knapkova, of the Czech Republic and Mahe Drysdale, of New Zealand, will race in the events for female and male single scullers closer to the weekend.

The pick of the British-only races today came in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights. St Edward’s School crushed St Paul’s School off the start to win a first round race which had all the prior hallmarks of a potential classic.

St Edward's vs St Paul's

Molesey B.C. were involved in one of the closer races of the day when they held off Norwich R.C. to progress after a ding-dong, course-long battle in the junior men’s quadruple sculls.

Top GB names like Olympic Champions Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory will be in action starting Saturday. 

The race programme starts tomorrow at 8.30am with another 80 races in store.

Excitement is building amongst the British crowd, who today enjoyed the sunshine in their thousands on the banks of the Thames, at the opportunity to watch the “new” British four this season as well as leading GB crews in the other events featuring the men’s and women’s eights and quadruple sculls amongst others.


For further information or interviews contact Caroline Searle or Alicia John in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 636121 or 01491 413877 or

By John Simm
2nd Jul, 8:00pm
Superb head to heads in store for 175th year

Henley Royal Regatta begins today and will celebrate its 175th anniversary in style with some superb head to head racing between the world’s best rowers.

The Regatta expects hundreds of thousands of spectators across the five days of racing with the weather forecast looking favourable.

2014 Regatta

Saturday’s first appearance of the outstanding GB Rowing Team men’s four, coached by Jurgen Grobler, will be the only time the British four will race on home water this season and as such is keenly anticipated.

From internationals to schoolboys the draw for this year’s special anniversary event has ensured that there will be plenty of tight racing to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats from the first day onwards.

Wednesday will see a fantastic race in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights between the selected (“seeded”) St Edward’s School and St Paul’s. Both eights are at the top of their game and Bobby Thatcher’s St Paul’s eight are good enough to cause an upset.

GB Boats

The British four of Andrew Triggs-Hodge, George Nash, Mo Sbihi and Alex Gregory have been untouchable all season and open their assault on the Stewards Challenge Cup against the French national crew on Saturday.

If successful in their opening race, the GB boat is likely to face the fast French lightweight four in the final or a new German composite crew including two outstanding rowers in the shape of:Hannes Ocik and Lauritz Schoof. If conditions are fast the 2011 record of 6:19 may well be threatened. 

In the sculling events the competition looks even stiffer. The Double Sculls Challenge Cup has served up a peach of a competition. The GB crew of John Collins and Jonny Walton – in many ways the ‘find’ of the season  - will open their campaign on Friday but the draw has set up the prospect of a sensational Sunday final with one of the season’s stand-out crews -  the French Lightweight men’s double sculls of Jeremy Azou and Stany Delayare.

The British national quadruple sculls crew of Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins and Peter Lambert is also having an outstanding season.  They will need to be on the top of their game to win the Queen Mother Challenge Cup against four other foreign crews.

Top of the list of opponents looks set to be the Australian crew, including the excellent Chris Morgan. The South Australian won Olympic bronze and was World Champion in this event in 2011.

Outstanding contests for single sculls

Both men’s and women’s single sculls have outstanding contests lined up.

In the Diamond Challenge Sculls for men, Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale has been in outstanding form, winning the season’s second World Cup. On Friday, he may well face George Bridgewater, a fellow kiwi Olympic medalist now on the comeback trail for 2016.

The biggest threats face the Olympic singles champion on the other side of the draw where both three times Diamonds winner Alan Campbell and the Netherlands Roel Brass will duel for the potential honour of meeting Drysdale in Sunday’s final should his passage through the other half of the draw prove smooth.

In the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for female single scullers, the chance of an intriguing Saturday contest between the Czech Republic’s Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova and Britain’s 2013 World Junior Champion, Jess Leyden, looks mouth-watering.

Close contests in the eights and fours

The British men’s eight must wait until Sunday to open their account in a straight final with the French eight in the Grand Challenge Cup.

This year, the French have put all their top oarsmen in the eight and so a close contest is assured. The race will also give the British a chance to bed in their new order, announced yesterday, and including newcomers Tom Ransley, Constantine Louloudis, Matt Gotrel and Paul Bennett since the crew last raced to a medal at the world cup in Aiguebelette.

Britain’s women’s eight, with World pairs Champion Polly Swann on board, will have to race more often. A Saturday contest against Australia’s national crew will provide the British with a stern test. The winner is likely to face the fast Dutch national team in Sunday’s final.

In the club and student events the Visitors’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours has thrown two of Imperial College’s composite crews together in the first round of heats on Thursday.

Rowers walking in

The Three Oxford Brookes university crews that qualified for the Temple Challenge Cup for student eights avoided the same fate but their seeded first crew will have a tough opener against a strong Newcastle University eight.

The north-eastern club has been in sparkling form all season and their top coxed four has a great chance of going all the way in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup. They open their account against the University of Bath on Thursday.

The Ladies’ Challenge Plate for intermediate men’s eights has always been a very tough event for British crews to win, though last year an emerging GB development crew was successful.

This year strong US crews from Brown University and California “Cal” Berkley await the four British crews. First heats will take place on Friday, with the pick of a strong field looking to be the contest between Brown and the Brookes/Taurus composite crew.


For further information or interviews contact Caroline Searle or Alicia John in the Henley Royal Regatta press office on 01491 636121 or 01491 413877  or



By John Simm
2nd Jul, 9:50am
Entries 2014 Press Release

OarsThe scene is set for a high-calibre Henley Royal Regatta, celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the first Regatta in 1839, with many Olympic and World Champions from around the world taking part. 
The Great Britain Rowing Team was the top nation at the recent European Championships in Belgrade and eight of its crews will be competing in the top events at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta. 
The British Eight, racing as Leander Club and University of London, are European Bronze Medallists and will meet the French National Eight, racing as Club France in a straight final.  The winning crew will be the first to have their names engraved on the brand new base of The Grand Challenge Cup. 
At the European Championships the new British Four were outstanding, demolishing a strong field and winning comfortably. Alex Gregory, Mo Sbihi, George Nash and Andy Triggs Hodge, racing as Molesey Boat Club and Leander Club in The Stewards’ Challenge Cup, face national crews from Germany, France and China. 
In The Queen Mother Challenge Cup for men’s quads the British World and European Silver Medallists, racing as Leander Club and Agecroft Rowing Club, will face tough opposition from the national crews from Australia, France and the Netherlands. 
The Remenham Challenge Cup for women’s eights has attracted national crews from Great Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, as well as the top Varsity crew from Yale University. The British Eight will be racing as Leander Club and Imperial College London. 
M. KnapkovaOlympic Champions in Single Sculls – Mahe Drysdale from New Zealand and Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic – will attempt to regain the Henley Trophies that they have held before. Drysdale has won The Diamond Challenge Sculls three times already but could go head-to-head with Olympic Bronze Medallist, Great Britain’s Alan Campbell. This event has attracted a truly international field with scullers from Australia, Lithuania, South Africa, Israel and the U.S.A. 
The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for School Eights will see Abingdon School seeking to defend the trophy that it won for the third consecutive time last year. 
A total of 494 crews have entered this year’s Regatta, including 107 crews from 20 overseas countries. 
The Chairman of the Committee of Management, Mike Sweeney, said “This year is the 175th Anniversary of the Regatta and I am delighted to welcome so many top crews from all around the world to help us to celebrate this special occasion. “ 
Any further information required can be obtained from Caroline Searle, the Regatta Press Officer, + 44 7831 755 351 

View the 2014 List of Entries

By John Simm
19th Jun, 9:04am
Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Flypast - Saturday 5th July


Weather permitting, at 4.18 pm on Saturday 5th July there will be a flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAF BBMF).

The RAF BBMF operates from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. Their aircraft (Lancaster, Dakota, Spitfire, Hurricane, Chipmunk) are regularly seen at events commemorating World War II, upon British State occasions and at air displays throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. RAF BBMF is proud to have HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as its Patron.

The aircraft are flown today by the Officer Commanding BBMF – Squadron Leader Duncan Mason and Wing Commander Justin Helliwell. After a morning’s commitments in the Bristol area, the BBMF have included the Royal Regatta in their schedule while en-route to RAF Waddington International Airshow in Lincolnshire.

The RAF BBMF commemorate the past of the RAF's Air Combat Power - Lest We Forget.

Further information is available at  

RAF Planes

By John Simm
16th Jun, 5:46pm
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