Inside Lines, the daily briefing notes from the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office, will be available during the 2016 Regatta.
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Finals day at Henley, it’s what four days of intensive racing amongst a record breaking 629 crews boils down to. 40 crews, 20 races and one stunning setting with the River Thames bathed in sunshine for the final day of head to head racing on the water.
In a hugely competitive first race of the day, Headington School took on Gloucester Rowing Club who were going for their third win in a row in The Jubilee Challenge Cup. The crews were level at the end of the Island before Headington took a small lead. Gloucester clawed back to lead by a canvas at the ¾ mile mark which had stretched to a length by the time they’d reached the Regatta Enclosure. They maintained the pressure and became the first winners of 2016.
Coach Tom Pattichis said: “It feels surreal to have the hat trick of Henley wins. The last couple of years we’ve come into the Regatta trying to win as the favourites, this year we came through the qualifiers with no real expectations. The girls have just got better and better each round, it’s a bit of a surprise to win, but a very good one.”
Semi-finals day at Henley Royal Regatta is special. There’s a unique atmosphere, a sense of waiting on the edge of glory. For eighty crews who began the day with dreams intact, this could be the penultimate step on the road to victory. The only event to make its 2016 debut on Saturday was the Ladies Challenge Plate with an entry of four crews from Leander Club, A.S.R. Nereus, the University of California, Berkeley and East India Club & Martys Boat Club.
The first race of the day pitted together two of the fastest schoolgirl crews in the country as Headington, winners of championship girl’s eights at the National Schools’ Regatta, now changing boat category to line up against Warrington Rowing club, who won the quad at the same Regatta in May. Many expected Warrington, a boat with plenty of form and a Henley Women’s double scull victory under their belt, to progress in a stern cross-head wind. But it was the crew from Oxfordshire who stole the early initiative and never relinquished it, pushing out to a length around the halfway point and maintaining a safe distance between themselves and Warrington. The crew said: “We're so pumped for the final. It's gusty out there but everyone is dealing with the same conditions so it comes down to who copes with them best. That was our toughest race of the regatta so far.” For the third year in a row, it will be Gloucester Rowing Club who take the other station in Sunday’s final.
The Friday of Henley Royal Regatta saw the open categories begin in earnest as the sun began to finally impose itself upon the event. The Grand, Stewards’, Queen Mother, Remenham and Princess Royal Challenge Cups all started on Friday, whilst the club, student and junior events rolled on into the quarter finals. Holland, Italy and Spain’s men’s eights all saw action whilst selected crews were introduced into the fold in the double and pair events. Meanwhile, a two-minute silence was beautifully observed across the regatta in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Today at Henley
The second day of Henley Royal Regatta saw its fair share of controversy to match the stunning conditions and superb racing on offer. The first round of five new events, including a fiercely contested small boat contingent, saw appearances from Olympians and world champions, whilst the club, student and junior categories continued in competitive fashion. The Great Britain rowing squad for the upcoming Rio Paralympic Games was also announced as they rowed past the crowd during the lunch break.
The day began at 8:30am with a comfortable win for Fulham Reach Boat Club ahead of the opening heats of the Prince Albert, Silver Goblets & Nickalls, Double Sculls and Prince of Wales Challenge Cup.
The wet and windy weather which greeted spectators and athletes alike upon arrival at the opening day of the 2016 Henley Royal Regatta failed to detract from a superb schedule of racing. The 2112m course bore witness to the full spectrum of sporting emotion as tough conditions made for close contests.
Racing began at 8:30am with a superb contest between Waikato Rowing Club of New Zealand and London Rowing Club of Putney, London. The much-fancied Kiwis showed their class, stretching out to a few lengths advantage after the barrier and refusing to budge despite repeated and concerted efforts from London. “A win is a win and it’s a great start,” said the crew. “We’re pleased and excited to be over here racing, but we’re here to take the trophy back to New Zealand with us.”
The first day of Henley Royal Regatta sees 178 crews take to the water in a year where various records have already fallen. The event has seen a staggering 629 boat entry, eclipsing the previous record by 77, whilst 27 nations were registered for the regatta on Monday 13th June. Several notable scalps were claimed at last Friday’s qualifying races, before the regatta draw threw up some mouth-watering first-day clashes.