conditions Conditions: Clear, bright, building cross headwind
Brookes’ Dutch Revenge
The Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ gained revenge for being knocked out of The Temple Challenge Cup (Student Men's Eight) last year by Utrechtsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Triton, winning their semi-final in Race 9 in emphatic fashion.
Triton, who are many people’s favourites after the times and wins in the Netherlands this season, shocked the home crowd last year, breaking Brookes in the quarter-finals with one of the great Henley comebacks. This time Triton, with seven of the eight returning, were fast off the start and led by a foot at Barrier (1:53), but were quickly overhauled by Brookes, who had a reconfigured eight from their incredibly deep squad. Brookes pulled away again in the middle part of the Course and were two lengths up at The Mile.
Brookes will face The University of Washington, USA, who had earlier won a much closer semi-final (Race 2) against Durham University ‘A’.
Durham flew off the start, but Washington gradually climbed past them and were ⅓ length up at Barrier (1:56). Durham have had two hard races this week and it looked like that was perhaps in their legs, but they pushed again and there was only a canvas in it at the ¾ Mile.
Durham held and it was side-by-side through the middle, but an impressive Washington with tighter bladework went again as they entered the Enclosures with 500m to go and won by ⅔ length.
Reading University ‘A’ produced the shock result of the morning session by beating Danske Studenters Roklub, Copenhagen, Denmark in the The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (Intermediate Men's Quad Sculls) in Race 4. They had similar times in Friday’s quarter-finals but Reading have never won this and the Danes had U23 World Championship athletes in their crew. The Danes had a storming start, led by ⅔ length at Barrier (2:03) and looked like they might blow Reading away in the headwind.
But Reading, coached by Will Rand (son of the British Olympian, Sid Rand), calmly held and then edged back seat-by-seat until they were only a canvas behind just past Fawley (9m short of halfway) of the 2,112-metre Course. And then the Danes were broken as Reading remorselessly extended away to win by 2 ¾ lengths.
An international Prince Philip
The strength of the record overseas entry to the Regatta this year was underlined by the semi-finals of the The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women's Eight) which produced an Australian - USA final.
The schoolgirl eights have shown it is not just about the international Olympians and the standard and excitement of the racing of the Prince Philip, in just the second year of the event, has been phenomenal, the Course record was broken three times in succession at the quarter-final stage on Thursday.
St Catherine’s, Australia
Saturday, with the strong cross-headwind was not a day for records, but in Race 7 St Catherine’s School, Australia, the national champions, led from start to finish against last year’s finalists, Surbiton High School - and there was room for improvement. St Catherine’s were quick but scrappy off the start, led by a canvas at Barrier and until the Mile. Surbiton kept their cool and stuck to their race plan, but unlike their quarter-final win against the other powerful Australian crew, Melbourne Girls' Grammar School, Australia, they could not row through.
Perhaps learning from watching that race, St Catherine’s put in a huge push at the start of the Enclosures, 500 metres from the finish, and pulled ¾ length clear - and then finished two lengths clear.
A Henley Winter
In Race 15, the final race of the morning session, Winter Park Crew, USA were more dominant in beating Henley Rowing Club, many people’s favourite for the Regatta after sweeping all before them this year. Winter Park, from Florida, had to come through Qualifying Races on Friday and have been flying ever since.
Winter Park had a fast start and despite steering troubles all the way up the course, had a length lead at halfway. They could never break the elastic, but Henley could never make a push count. They were a length down as they entered the roar of the Enclosures and with 500 metres to go took back a few seats, but it looked like Winter Park had them covered.
It was a tough day for lightweights in the strong cross-headwind and GB heavyweights Matt Haywood (111kg) & George Bourne (88kg) racing for Nottingham Rowing Club and The Tideway Scullers’ School had too much power for the USA lightweights Jasper Liu & Zachary Heese (Texas Rowing Center, U.S.A.) in Race 6.
No Olympian trouble
The Chinese quad, featuring three Tokyo gold medallists, gave another masterclass in The Princess Grace Challenge Cup (Women's Quad Sculls) beating the Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand in Race 10
Even when one Australian crew struggled they still managed to win. The USA-Australian pair of Meghan Musnicki and Jessica Morrison (both Olympic gold medallists), racing for California Rowing Club, beat the Australian pair of Mitchell & Gleeson (Rowing Australia) in Race 12.
The Australian pair had terrible steering trouble, first off the start and then around Fawley (halfway) as they caught a crab and then veered alarmingly across the course from their Bucks station to end up behind their opponents far on the Berks side. But in truth they were always behind.
CONDITIONS: Clear, bright and strong cross-headwinds
Radley knock Eton out
The afternoon session saved the best until last, with Radley College producing the shock of the Regatta by beating the apparently unbeatable Eton College crew. Eton were heavy favourites to win The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eight) for a third year in succession.
A capacity crowd in the Enclosures roared the Radley comeback home as they rowed through Eton in stunning fashion in the penultimate race of the session (Race 29). Eton led by ¾ length at Barrier in a stunning time of 1:49, given the conditions, and it looked like it might become another procession. They were still ⅔ length up past the halfway at Fawley, but Radley began to climb the ladder. It seemed like Eton must respond, but, already rating consistently higher, they could not, and Radley came through under the Grandstand to win by ¼ length.
Radley, who last won the PE in 1998, had not looked like challengers until they created a stir at the Marlow Regatta a fortnight ago. Both crews pushed each to greater heights than they reached all season, the question now is can Radley do it twice?
St Paul’s beat King’s
Radley joined St Paul’s, the winners in 2018, who knocked out King’s College School, Wimbledon with a similar but not such an unexpected comeback, and in a significantly slower time.
St Paul’s trailed by ¾ length at Barrier (1:57) and did not pull through in the third quarter of the race - like Kara Kohler in the race before them. But at The Mile they drew level and rowed through King’s who could not respond. St Paul’s finished ¾ length clear.
People have been talking about this St Paul’s boat with two excellent 16-year-olds and one phenomenal 15-year-old as a great boat of the future, but that future might yet start on Sunday.
GB v Australia in the Grand
Immediately after, the most senior men’s eights completed the lineup in the The Grand Challenge Cup (Men’s Eight). In Race 30, the final one of the session, Great Britain’s new eight booked their place in the final by winning in considerably less dramatic fashion, controlling the USA eight from the front. They will face Rowing Australia in the final, who won a considerably easier semi against the China National Rowing Team.
That continued Australia’s semi-final success. Earlier, in Race 16, the first of the session, Anneka Reardon and Lucy Coleman (Rowing Australia) - the mighty lighties - knocked out another heavyweight crew in the shape of the Poland/Ukraine double of Olena Buriak and Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska in The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women’s Double Sculls).
Oliver Zeidler, Germany’s 6ft 8in European and World Champion single sculler was stretched a little more by Monégasque sculler Quentin Antognelli (Oxford Brookes University). Antognelli, who raced in the Tokyo Olympics in more tricky conditions than this, led Zeidler (racing for Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 e.V., Germany) off the start, but was calmly reeled in. Antognelli, striking at a higher rate all the way down the Course, could not make an impression on the giant German.
China have arrived with two formidable international quads and the men’s crew followed their women into the finals as they beat the Great Britain quad, racing as Leander Club and Tideway Scullers in a close Race 19 in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Quadruple Sculls).
Leander have had their name on the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Quadruple Sculls) for ten of the last eleven years (either alone or in composite) but not this year.
This Chinese quad could become the first Chinese men’s crew to win at Henley ever - following the women’s quad, who won in 2019.
The Great Britain quad, which includes two Olympic silver medallists, should be too unhappy. They have had a difficult start to the year, have shuffled a rebuilding boat before this Regatta and pushed a Chinese quad that dominated World Cup I and II in the last two months.
With contrasting styles in the big headwind, the Chinese set off at an extremely high rate 41 vs 36) and were always higher throughout. They only led by a canvas at Barrier (1:57), but slipped ½ ahead through the first half and were able to respond to each British attack.
Windsor Boys’ Quad Double
The Windsor Boys’ School showed their complete domination of junior men’s sculling this year as their ‘A’ boat beat Scotland’s last crew in the Regatta - St Andrew Boat Club easily in Race 17 in The Fawley Challenge Cup (Junior Men's Quad Sculls). They were followed into the final less than an hour later by their ‘B’ boat, who also led from start to finish in a tighter race with Claires Court School. They controlled from the front and won by 1 ¼ length on the line.
The Kohler comeback
Some comebacks at Henley are epic, adrenaline-fuelled charges like Radley’s, some just look like perfectly, ruthlessly executed race plans. USA Olympic bronze medallist, Kara Kohler’s looked like the latter as she showed a stunning burst of speed in Race 20 and rowed through experienced Diana Dymchenko, the Ukrainian racing for Azerbaijan, in a matter of seconds in the third quarter of Race 20 in The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women’s Single Sculls).
Kohler will meet Britain's Olympic lightweight, Imogen Grant (Cambridge University), who won The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women's Double Sculls) here last year. She was part of Cambridge University’s winning eight in the Women’s Boat Race this year. She missed a bronze medal by 1/100th of a second at the Tokyo Olympics and won World Championship bronze medals in 2018 and 2019.
CONDITIONS: INVIGORATING SHOWERS GIVING WAY TO A LIGHTER CROSS-HEADWIND AND EVENING SUN
Bulldogs, Bears and Huskies
In the evening session the big American colleges - the “Bulldogs” from Yale University, the “Huskies” from University of Washington, the “Brown Bears” from Brown University and the “Golden Bears” from University of California, Berkeley, missing from the Regatta since 2019 - flexed their muscles.
The Island Challenge Cup (Student Women’s Eight), also in its second year, has felt like a university world championship. Yale produced a stunning second half to beat University of London ‘A’ in Race 32. UL led by ¾ length at the ¼ Mile before the Bulldogs began biting at their heels. They closed to ½ length at Barrier and they were level at Fawley (9m short of halfway). And then Yale came through steadily and held on to win by half a length.
In the next race (Race 33), the Visitors' Challenge Cup (Intermediate Men's Coxless Four), University of Washington kept surprising people in an event that has been hard to call. They led the Thames Rowing Club & Leander Club from start to finish and though the lead was cut to ½ length at The Mile, the Washington Huskies - at Henley with nine crews - had them covered.
Brown University, aka the Brown Bears, made it an all-American final in the Island by winning Race 39 with a quicksilver higher-rating start that put them a length up at Barrier (1:59) over Oxford Brookes University ‘A’. Brown rated consistently higher and were able to respond to Brookes pushes.
University of California, Berkeley, USA, aka the Golden Bears, beat Dartmouth College, aka the Big Green, by just ⅓ length after being pushed all the way. Cal led by ½ length at Barrier but were side-by-side racing the whole way down the 2,112-metre Course. They will meet Leander Club in the final, who earlier overpowered Yale.
Great Britain’s women’s eight will face Australia in the final of The Remenham Challenge Cup (Women's Eight) after they held off a series of charges from USA’s eight in Race 35. Australia had an easier time beating China’s eight an hour later by 1 ¾ lengths.
Claires Court shock Shiplake
After Radley College’s epic PE shock, Claires Court School caused similar reverberations in the final race of the day (Race 44) by beating the holders and huge favourites Shiplake College in the The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup (Junior Women's Quad Sculls).
The holders Shiplake College, with two of the quad that won last year, were fresh from victory in Henley Women’s Regatta, and another all-conquering season. It looked like business as usual as they took a ½ length lead at the ¼ Mile, but they could not resist a huge push by Claires Court around halfway at Fawley. Claires led by a length at The Mile and though Shiplake kept pushing as they passed the Grandstand in the final hundred metres Claires held them off.
They will face Redwood Scullers, USA, who are unbeaten in the USA in 2022 and had a more comfortable beating Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club ‘A’.