Today’s men’s eight final at the Henley Royal Regatta was a ‘top of the bill’ race between the World Champions, Great Britain, and Germany, Olympic Champions.
Screamed home by the famous Henley crowd, the GB eight put in a storming performance to defend their title and win by clear water.
The British eight was super-fast out of the blocks, had built a big lead and powered over the line.
In this fascinating duel between two of the top crews in the world in the sport’s blue riband event, the score this season now stands at 2-1 to the British crew – many of whom had been following the women’s world cup football results.
New Zealand’s Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale, added a remarkable fifth Henley title to his career tally at Henley Royal Regatta this morning.
Competing in the open single scull event, the Diamond Challenge Sculls, he made this man-killing event - on one of the toughest courses in international rowing - look easy and won in 8:11 by a big margin over Hungarian International Gabor Csepregi.
“It’s a Regatta I always enjoy coming to”, said Drysdale. “It’s always great to race these guys that you don’t know much about because you never know what they’re going to throw at you and I’ve really enjoyed the Regatta”.
Mirka Knapkova, from the Czech Republic will seek to emulate Drysdale in this afternoon’s programme in the equivalent women’s event. The Olympic Champion, who based herself in Henley in the lead up to the 2012 Games, also has four titles going into the finals today.
The Great Britain men’s eight teed up the final the home crowd wanted when they beat the Australians in the semis of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta today.
Racing here as Leander Club & Molesey B.C., the British boat now face their arch-rivals Germany. This morning they made light of a swirling head-wind to come through in 6:32 against the Australian national eight freshly arrived in Europe.
GB, the World Champions, and Germany, the Olympic Champions, have raced each other twice already this season. The Germans won in Poznan to take the European title whilst the British took the honours in Varese in a thrilling world cup final 10 days ago.
Paul Bennett, a reigning World Champion, said: “I am actually really excited about facing Germany here. We obviously usually race six lanes but this will be a real side-by-side, honest battle. We have been back and forth the last few times we have raced each other, so I really don’t know what is going to happen. It’s just going to be a genuine, hard race fought tooth and nail”.
The German coach Ralf Holtmeyer, whose crew is relishing the chance to race the GB boat on their home waters, said: “We like racing here, it’s very British, it’s different to other international regattas and the boys like it. Poznan was not the normal form of the British eight. After Poznan we said the potential of the British eight is higher and Varese was the higher level. And now we see.”
Great Britain’s eight, racing here as Leander & Molesey B.C., made light of the headwind to beat Australia’s national eight comfortably in their semi-final of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
The GB eight, stacked with World or Olympic medallists such as Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, George Nash, Matt Gotrel, Paul Bennett, Mohamed Shihi and Phelan Hill, produced a rock-solid start and gradually pulled away.
Stroked by local hero Will Satch - and including for the first time this year Boat Race winner Constantine Louloudis who is back in action after his University finals – the British eight just piled on the pressure to win by a length and a quarter in 6:32.
Australia, who are coached now by the renowned Tim McClaren, challenged consistently in the second half but could not make any headway.
Experts predicted that the clash between the Universities of Washington and Princeton in the Ladies’ Challenge Plate for intermediate eights would be the match up of the day at Henley Royal Regatta.
It did not disappoint. Princeton led early but Washington battled back to take the verdict.
Remarkably the strokeman of the Princeton eight was racing for the second time that day in the same event. He had earlier raced and lost with the Princeton “B” crew but was called up only hours later into his Universities top boat because of injury to their strokeman.
19 year-old strokeman Julian Goldman therefore went into one of the biggest races of his life having already rowed Henley’s demanding course. Afterwards he said: “I’m not quite as tired as I thought I’d be now. But I know I’m going to feel it later.”
Mahe Drysdale and Mirka Knapkova, the Olympic Champions in the open single sculls for men and women respectively, both won their opening races. They are both seeking fifth titles apiece here.
It was a busy morning for the Henley Royal Regatta historians as five records tumbled during a blistering start to day three.
Scottish and Dutch crews were in celebratory mood with significant wins and records between them.
Easily the most eye-catching record was the time of 6:03 set by Dutch eight ASR Nereus in the Temple Challenge Cup – a full nine seconds faster than the previous record set jointly by Harvard University and University of Berkeley, California in 2011.
“That’s amazing, that’s almost on a par with Bob Beamon breaking the long jump record all those years ago,” said Martin Cross, rowing commentator and 1984 Olympic gold medallist.
Today, Henley Royal Regatta is incorporating the pioneering use of a drone camera in its live coverage of the 176 year-old river racing. Whilst the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in sports filming is not new, only recent developments in drone and camera technology have allowed live pictures to be incorporated into an outside broadcast.
The UAV is being flown from a purpose-built platform in the middle of the Thames adjacent to the traditional Henley racing course, and can provide previously unseen angles and views of a rowing race. For the first time, the one-on-one nature of Henley’s match racing can be seen from above.
Westminster School are still on course for the triple crown having beaten Hampton School in this afternoon’s second round of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
They are already National Schools’ and Schools’ Head winners and are seeking to add the schoolboy event title here. They won by a length and a third during the post-lunch sessions in which the USA’s huge entry began to make its presence felt.
No fewer than 23 American crews were in action as a precursor to the next two days’ racing which will see some significant US rivalries on the Henley Reach.
For the first time in almost a century two American “giants’ will go head-to-head at Henley 2015 when the Universities of Princeton and Washington race each other in the heats of the Ladies’ Challenge Plate for intermediate eights.
Number 31 Squadron is one of three operational Tornado GR4 Squadrons and is currently based at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The Squadron was formed at Farnborough on 11 October 1915 and will be celebrating its centenary later this year.
The Tornado GR4 is a two-seat, all-weather, day/night attack and reconnaissance aircraft which has been in service since 1974. Currently supporting the ongoing operations in Iraq, the Tornado has deployed all over the world with Kosovo, Chad, Afghanistan and Libya being a small selection of destinations in the recent past.
Abingdon and Shrewsbury Schools both exited Henley Royal Regatta earlier than they might have anticipated today as they were knocked out in the opening rounds of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights.
The three racing sessions also saw some clashes, a restart and a mysterious case of melting oars as well as live broadcast for the first time since 1967.
King’s School Canterbury were somewhat scuppered in their opening race of the same event when the spoon of the strokeman’s oar parted company with the shaft mid-race.
They went on to lose out to the much-fancied Westminster School who are making an assault on rowing’s hat-trick here, having already won the Schools’ Head and the National Schools Championships.
We'll send out video highlights & useful information regarding the TV coverage each day during the 2015 Regatta.