Welcome to Sir Matthew Pinsent’s roundup of the best action from Day 1 of Henley Royal Regatta.
It’s more than 750 days since Henley was last staged and we’re back on this iconic stretch of the River Thames. There are some differences though: where the boat tents used to be is now a Supporters’ Lawn so you can come and sit and have a beer and watch our lovely footage on the big screen.
But what hasn’t changed is what’s out there on this wonderful course, and today there were some compelling races.
Whether it’s the Olympics or Henley - and we are going to have some Tokyo Olympians competing here this week - the race can be decided in the closing stages. And if there’s controversy in a race then that’s decided at Henley by a competitor raising a hand to protest and have discussions with the umpire; a red flag can be raised and that’s exactly what happened in a heat of the Wyfold today between Upper Thames and Nottingham.
After a few minutes delay the result was upheld and victory confirmed for Nottingham.
But Henley is also about dressing up - that’s always been true - but there’s added impetus for Henley 21 because we’ve all been locked down, I haven’t worn a tie in months so all the more reason to get passionately vocal.
Winning races at Henley are all about long training programmes for months or even years and a degree of target setting and predictability over that training programme. Well, 2021 has not been predictable so hats off to all the competing crews as they face the test against their opposition.
At the last Regatta in 2019 there was a record entry for overseas crews and for obvious reasons in 2021 that was never going to happen. There are, however, three new women’s trophies and the junior women’s eights started today.
There’s nothing better at the end of a long warm Henley day than a sundown and perhaps a champagne or a Pimm’s. We will be back tomorrow for more highlights and of course more racing. See you then.