Committee of Management announces intention to stage 2021 Regatta at Henley-on-Thames during the week of 9 August

Last month, the Committee of Management announced deferral of the 2021 Regatta, subject to the outcome of a programme of stakeholder engagement which began with a survey of our Members earlier this year.  The UK Government, public health authorities, local agencies and communities, contractors and rowing clubs, domestic and overseas, have all been consulted.  The Committee has met regularly in the last six weeks to consider the findings of this consultation, as well as to evaluate operational issues central to our planning for the 2021 Regatta.

Our ambition remains to stage the best Regatta possible this summer in the context of the ongoing pandemic, with the health and safety of all those involved in the event, as well as wider public health remaining our highest priorities.  These are followed by our continued desire to offer the competitive pinnacle for the sport that Henley Royal Regatta represents, and to which athletes and coaches can aspire as our sport emerges from lockdown.  Based on our consultation, we are now cautiously but actively working towards staging of the 2021 Regatta at Henley-on-Thames during the week commencing 9 August as the primary planning scenario.  We will include all 26 events in the programme, including those planned to be newly introduced in 2020 and in 2021.  However, the Regatta will most likely be staged with limited site infrastructure and reduced spectator attendance.  In line with Government and public health guidance, the introduction of infection control measures will form part of our planning.  

We regret that these dates in August present an insurmountable challenge to some school and university boat clubs, and in particular to athletes aspiring to international representation at the Junior World Rowing Championships, currently due to be held in the same week.  However, given a wide range of factors, including the pre-existing schedule of other events due to be staged in Henley and the Thames Valley during the summer, the second week in August is the only practical option to accommodate a deferred Regatta.  We wish all those athletes selected to compete at the Junior Worlds the best of luck, and look forward to welcoming them to race at the Regatta in future years.  

Staging the Regatta in Henley-on-Thames on these dates is contingent on a number of factors, including the UK Government continuing to ease restrictions in accordance with its published Roadmap out of lockdown.  Critically, it is also subject to the results of the scientific Events Research Programme.  This programme will assess the impact of certain major pilot events of similar spectator scale to the Regatta, being staged through the spring and summer, such as the FA Cup Final at Wembley in May.

Given these dependencies, ultimate feasibility will remain uncertain for some months.  So the possibility remains that staging the Regatta at Henley this year may not be possible, and in the worst case scenario, the risk of outright cancellation remains.

Nonetheless, for now, we are focused on preparations for a Regatta in Henley commencing in the week of 9 August.  Decisions in respect of exact dates of racing, spectator access, numbers and facilities lie ahead, and will only be possible in the early summer after further engagement with the Government and local authorities.  In the meantime, the Qualification and General Rules will be amended to address eligibility issues caused by the new dates.  We will issue guidance for Clubs on the implications of these amendments shortly, and the essential intent will be to ensure that any athlete who would have been eligible to race on the original dates of 29 June to 4 July, will remain eligible on the revised dates.  

Until then, we reiterate our ongoing gratitude to the rowing community, our Official Partners, and especially our Members, for their continued and passionate backing and engagement.    

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