Agony and ecstasy at Qualifying for Henley Royal Regatta

With 387 crews competing for just 88 places, the strain on the water and cries of encouragement from the banks of the River were more intense than ever at the Qualifying Races for Henley Royal Regatta today (Friday).

"For many people I meet, rowing at the Qualifying Races is the highlight of their career."

“The Qualifying Races for Henley Royal Regatta is a unique day for all those involved with its mixture of elation and disappointment, and that has rarely been more true than with the record entry we have had this year.” Sir Steve Redgrave, chairman of the Committee of Management said. “For many people I meet, rowing at the Qualifying Races is the highlight of their career. We’re delighted to have Qualifying back on the Course today. It’s a taste of where all the crews would all like to be on Tuesday - but of course not all of them can make it through.”

Those 88 will join the 331 pre-qualified in the Draw tomorrow (Saturday).

This is not the biggest Qualifying in terms of numbers, but it is the toughest in percentages; in 2019, 422 crews raced for 116 places and in 2016, 402 crews raced for 99 places. In heavily oversubscribed events, such as The Fawley Challenge Cup (Junior Men's Quad Sculls), 44 crews were racing for just 3 places.  

Unlike the head-to-head contests of Regatta week, Qualifying is all about A-to-B speed, with crews racing in a time trial format (with 45 seconds between eights and 30 seconds between the smaller boats).

The sense of occasion has been magnified by qualification being staged on the Regatta Course for the first time since 2019, after the Regatta was cancelled in 2020 for the first time outside of the World Wars, and qualification was hosted at Eton Dorney last year because of COVID constraints.


Notes to the editor


Henley Royal Regatta, founded in 1839, is the best-known rowing regatta in the world, renowned for its match-racing.  It is one of the highlights of the summer sporting and social calendar in the UK, as well as the rowing calendar internationally.  Nearly 400 races are staged at the Regatta, featuring Olympians and emerging stars from around the world.

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