The event guide – 26 events, five classes

12 Open events

GRAND CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Eight Oars with Coxswain (M8+)

Just two boats in the oldest event, which has been dominated by international entries in recent decades and Oxford Brookes University cannot lose. It is them versus their alumni in a combined boat. Brookes, the runners up in 2019 in a combined boat with Leander Club, have been the dominant force over the last decade and more at the Regatta, and look highly likely to add this Grand silverware to their collection for the first time. 

REMENHAM CHALLENGE CUP

Women's Eight Oars with Coxswain (W8+)

The ongoing challenges of racing in these times of COVID-19, faced by competitors and organisers alike, was emphasised again with the late withdrawal of international crews such as Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus, who were entered in the Remenham Challenge Cup, the top event for women’s eights. But Hollandia Roeiclub, Netherlands, one of the favourites, are still there. Seven of their boat are the Netherlands development crew on the Olympic pathway programme to Paris and three of the crew and the cox were also in the eight that just missed out on qualification at the last Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne in mid-May. Their biggest rivals look like being Leander, who contain six of the Great Britain development squad. 

STEWARDS' CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Four Oars (M4-)

Only three entries and probably only one winner, with Oxford Brookes University given the bye to the final.

TOWN CHALLENGE CUP

Women's Four Oars (W4-)

Packed with senior world championship experience, Leander Club are favourites. Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University have some young speed and in 2021 The Tideway Scullers’ School cannot be discounted.

QUEEN MOTHER CHALLENGE CUP 

Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x)

Two boats entered. Leander Club, the winners since 2013 on their own or in combined boats, and University College, Cork & Skibbereen Rowing club, Ireland.

PRINCESS GRACE CHALLENGE CUP

Women's Quadruple Sculls (W4x)

Two standouts meet in the first round, with Leander Club a nose in front of Hartpury University after beating them at Marlow Regatta at Dorney Lake in June. The Leander crew is drawn from that victory combined with another at the Metropolitan regatta earlier in June. The combined Thames Rowing Club and Neptune Rowing Club, Ireland, is another boat of many talents including Elo Luik, who made the semi-finals of Championship Singles at the Henley Women's Regatta in June and was the first Estonian to race in The Boat Race in 2016, and Vwairé Obukohwo, a clearwater winner of the Aspirational Singles title at HWR. And, again, do not forget The Tideway Scullers’ School, winners of Aspirational Quads at Henley Women's Regatta – but neither Leander nor Hartpury were competing. 

SILVER GOBLETS & NICKALLS' CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Pair Oars (M2-)

But perhaps Morgan Bolding and Mat Tarrant, another Oxford Brookes University powerhouse crew are the ones to beat. They were both Olympic reserves in Tokyo for Great Britain (Tarrant also had to fill that role in Rio 2016), so there maybe plenty of frustration to let out. The event has opened up a bit after the withdrawal of the fancied pair of Tarczy and de Graaf, from The Tideway Scullers’ School. In the other half of the Draw, Parish and Sullivan, two Blues from this year's winning Cambridge University eight, are the other selected boat. Peters and Willis (Leander Club) look like their biggest challenge – Willis won the Fawley Challenge Cup in 2019. 

HAMBLEDEN PAIRS CHALLENGE CUP

Women's Pair Oars (W2-)

An entry beginning S. Redgrave always quickens the Regatta pulse and starts as favourite and this is no different – or relation. Samantha Redgrave and Susannah Dear (Leander Club) are the pair to beat in a small field. They won bronze at World Cup III in Sabaudia, Italy in June. The pairs from the Tideway Scullers’ School and the Leander / University of London composite could push them. 

DOUBLE SCULLS CHALLENGE CUP 

Men's Double Sculls (M2x)

All eyes will be this one with the returning Olympic champions, Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Finbarr McCarthy, fresh from winning gold in the lightweight men’s doubles sculls in Tokyo, taking on local heavyweights in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.and try to prove again that very good little’uns can beat some pretty handy big’uns. Paul and his brother Gary were losing finalists in 2018 in their only other appearance at the Regatta. 

The Irish pair will have their work cut out again and are in the bottom half of the Draw with another powerful crew from Craftsbury Green Racing Project, USA. Hedge & Pilhal won the US Rowing National Championships in 6:17 and have u23 world championship experience. But they will have to get past Copus & Antognelli, another Oxford Brookes University boat. Jamie Copus, a lightweight, missed out on qualifying for Tokyo for GB in the LM2x. In the top half, a composite crew of Meijer & Haywood (The Tideway Scullers’ School and Nottingham Rowing Club), are also heavily fancied. Both rowers look like central parts of Great Britain’s sculling future. 

STONOR CHALLENGE TROPHY

Women's Double Sculls (W2x)

Georgie Brayshaw & Jess Leyden (Leander Club) might be the ones to beat, and are another crew powered by skill, speed and Olympic frustration. Leyden was in the British women’s quadruple scull but sadly contracted COVID-19 and didn’t make the team.

The Stonor has one of the highest quality fields and in the other half of the Draw, Emily Craig and Imogen Grant (University of London and Cambridge University) were a hair’s breadth from an Olympic medal in Tokyo, finishing fourth by an agonising 0.01 seconds in the LW2x. Grant was part of the eight that won Women's Boat Race in April whilst Emily Craig became world champion in the LW4x in 2019. 

DIAMOND CHALLENGE SCULLS

Men's Single Sculls (M1x)

Graeme Thomas, the runner-up in 2012, arrives with power, experience and motivation after his fourth-place at the Tokyo Olympics. He is most decorated in the field with two world championship silvers and a bronze to his name, but he will have to face down younger guns. Watch out for Dara Alizadeh (Cambridge University), who represented Bermuda in Tokyo. Experience in the shape of Tom Graves (Long Beach Junior Crew, USA), who won silver at the US Rowing National Championships in 2019 might also tell. He has competed at Henley Royal Regatta 14 times (2021 is 20-year anniversary from his first competitive appearance).

PRINCESS ROYAL CHALLENGE CUP

Women's Single Sculls (W1x)

Another Olympic champion at the Regatta – Andrea Proske won gold in the Women's Eight for Canada in Tokyo. An experienced sculler, she will be a force to be reckoned with. Lola Anderson (Leander Club) and Pia Greiten (Ruderverein Osnabrücker, Germany) look like the other favourites in a competitive field. 

Three Intermediate Events

LADIES' CHALLENGE PLATE

Men's Eight Oars with Coxswain (M8+)

So dominant have Oxford Brookes University become that their toughest opposition comes from the best clubs. Thus, Brookes second best eight (with the top boat in the Grand), who won in 2018 and 2019 (and 2017) in combination, are vying with Leander Club (again). But such is the nature of the Draw and with only six boat entered, that they are likely to meet Leander in the semi-final and their own ‘B’ boat in the final. 

VISITORS' CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Four Oars (M4-)

Leander Club know their way around this event as winners (in a combined crew with Cambridge University) in 2019 and on their own in 2018 and 2017. They have international pedigree and James Stanhope is a three-time winner at the Regatta. Oxford University are in their half of the Draw with the eight that lost the Boat Race to Cambridge in April. With three of the eights U23 world champions in July, Blues do not extend their season together so long unless they fancy their chances highly. In the other half, Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Laga and Algemene Groninger Studenten Roeivereniging Gyas, Netherlands, have strong international experience and will be disappointed if they do not get past Oxford Brookes ‘A’, who have four doubling up from the eight in the Ladies’ Challenge Plate, which could be a stretch even for them. 

PRINCE OF WALES CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x)

Expect Craftsbury Green Racing Project, USA to be fast. Their four includes Lucas Bellows, who finished second in the M1x (single sculls) at the US Olympic Trials. They are here to win and they have much clearer path to the final than the bottom half of the draw, which includes four or five contenders. 

Leander Club are favourites to emerge from that group to reach the final. They won this event six time in a row from 2010 to 2015 and again in 2017, dipped but now look like they are rising. They have juggling crews between different events, but even if the four that emerge are not as individually fast as the American four, they know how to win here. First they have to get past the combined Edinburgh University Boat Club and Strathclyde Park Rowing Club, Hartpury University 'A', Reading University ‘A’ and the combined Twickenham Rowing Club and Belfast University, Ireland crews.

Four Club events

THAMES CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Eight Oars with Coxswain (M8+)

Thames Rowing Club 'A' (2017 and 2018 winners) and Molesey Boat Club (2016) for continuing pedigree. Henley Rowing Club (last champions in 2005) for their form this season and The Tideway Scullers’ School are the dark horses. An already strong club have been buoyed this season by top university athletes not being able to travel because of COVID-19, then forced to pivot by late changes to US citizens. They came through qualification races on the Saturday, August 7 at Dorney Lake, and are now one of the selected boats.
 

WARGRAVE CHALLENGE CUP - New

Women's Eight Oars with Coxswain (W8+)

One of the three new women’s events being introduced in 2021. The Tideway Scullers’ School as in other events are the 2021 wildcard benefitting from a bigger than usual concentration of high-performance athletes because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, with a crew rich in Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) winners and international experience. They beat pre-COVID favourites Cantabrigian Rowing Club at HWR in the first week of July. Thames Rowing Club have the strength in depth, with three boats in the Draw but their ‘A’ boat finished third behind Leander Club in the Open Eights at the Metropolitan Regatta in the first week of June.   

WYFOLD CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Four Oars (M4-)

One of the hardest events to call. The Tideway Scullers’ School have international experience and the keen edge of the 2021 environment at the club that has seen all their boats surge. Thames Rowing Club are in the mix but they have prioritised their Thames Challenge Cup eight. Northwich Rowing Club’s strong youth squad are now bearing fruit, Lea Rowing Club have two of the four that reached the semi-finals in 2019 and do not discount Upper Thames Rowing Club (winners of the Wyfold and Britannia Challenge Cup in 2014). Though traditionally less of a force, Marlow Rowing Club, with good results this season will fancy their chances with a clearer looking run in the bottom half. 

BRITANNIA CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Four Oars with Coxswain (M4+)Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 (winners of the Thames Challenge Cup in 2014) are strong on paper and would not be here if they did think they could win. We (and they) will find out how good their chances are in the first round on Thursday as they face Kingston Rowing Club, one of the four outfits who have been vying for best club coxed four this season. Also in the top half of the Draw are Molesey Rowing Club, the holders after winning in 2019 and Thames Rowing Club, the winners (over Molesey) in 2018, with part of the crew Championship Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta in June. 

Three Student events

TEMPLE CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Eight Oars with Coxswain (M8+)

Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ are the dominant force in this event having won four of the last six, but the fact that Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus, Netherlands(champions in 2015) is coming over, especially in COVID times, means they are very confident and there is international pedigree throughout their eight. But it could be Utrechtsche Studenten Roeivereeniging TritonNetherlands that are Brookes’s biggest challengers after registering some blistering times – on and off the water - this season. Triton are likely to meet Brookes in the quarter-finals with Imperial College University ‘A’ the most likely challengers in the other side of the Draw.  

ISLAND CHALLENGE CUP – New 

Women's Eight Oars with Coxswain (W8+)

One of the three new women’s events – all for eights - this event was due to be introduced in 2020, but after the cancellation will now be raced for the first time in 2021. Oxford Brookes ‘A’ will be many people’s favourites to take the inaugural title. They won the Metropolitan Regatta at beginning of June ahead of Club boats in the Wargrave Challenge Cup and were national champions at the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) at the end of June. But they might not have it all their own way. 

In the bottom half of the Draw with them are Cambridge University, including seven of the winners of the 2021 Blue boat. In the modern era, fully-formed Oxbridge crews are not normally at Henley Royal Regatta, so this could be a collector’s item. In the other half, University of London ‘A’, second at BUCS, are the most likely challengers. 

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS

PRINCE ALBERT CHALLENGE CUP

Men's Four Oars with Coxswain (M4+)

It is hard to look past Oxford Brookes University ‘A’, who last won this event in 2009, but without the likes of the holders Harvard University this year, look unstoppable. Their crew have raced in eights and fours this season and have only been beaten by their own teammates. 

The biggest challenge against them is that both Newcastle University ‘A’ (winners in 2017) and University of London have chosen to stack their best into this event. Watch out for University of Surrey, who have had an excellent season, albeit often finishing third behind two Oxford Brookes boats. 

Four Junior events 

PRINCESS ELIZABETH CHALLENGE CUP

Junior Men's Eight Oars with Coxswain (JM8+)

Eton College start as favourites. They were the winners in 2019 and, for the first time in a decade, National Schools' Regatta champions in May 2021. In the other half of the Draw, St Paul’s School, runners-up in 2019 and fearsome champions over Eton in 2018, will have to get past St Joseph’s Preparatory School, USA, the only international entry this year. St  Joseph’s has the pedigree and form – they won the Varsity Eight at the USA National Youth Championship in June at and would not be sending a boat unless they were very confident. They could meet St Paul’s in the quarter-final on Friday. But any jet lag or crabs and Shiplake College might send them home early. 

JUNIOR WOMEN'S EIGHTS – New 

Junior Women's Eight Oars with Coxswain (JW8+)

One of the three new women’s events being introduced in 2021. Headington School look like favourites to win the inaugural title after winning by a margin at the Henley Women’s Regatta in June and the British Rowing Junior Championships in July. But this is 2021 and The Tideway Scullers’ School in Headington’s half of the Draw are a force to be reckoned with across the events. In the other half, The Lady Eleanor Holles School look the most likely finalists. They won the National Schools’ Regatta in May, but Headington were conspicuous by their absence. 

FAWLEY CHALLENGE CUP

Junior Men's Quadruple Sculls (JM4x)

It is often invidious to pick out individuals in team sports, but Gabby Obholzer, the current British U18 2k record holder (5:54:7) is the powerhouse giving the Tideway Scullers’ School ‘A’ an edge. They the National Schools' Regatta in May but some of their aura was lost when The Windsor Boys’ School (winners in 2017 and 2018) beat them at the British Rowing Junior Championships in July. Leander Club, in the bottom half of the Draw with Windsor, finished third at both of the above events, but in 2019 they lost at the National Schools before triumphing in the Fawley. Also, watch out for the orange blades of Lea Rowing Club, the Hackney club founded in 1980. 

DIAMOND JUBILEE CHALLENGE CUP

Junior Women's Quadruple Sculls (JW4x)

Few event favourites this year are quite as red hot as Shiplake College ‘A’. They have sculled all before them in 2021 – winning the National Schools' Regatta in May, Henley Women’s Regatta in June, and the British Rowing Junior Championships in July. They have clearer run to final in the top half of the Draw could win Shiplake’s first Henley Royal Regatta silverware in a generation. 

The bottom half is much harder to call. Marlow Rowing Club, so often the runners-up in this event (2014, 2015 and 2018) and to Shiplake this season, could meet Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club ‘A’, who seem to be peaking just right, having taken silver at the British Rowing Junior Championships in July. But Wycliffe need to get past Glasgow Academy, another all-conquering boat but with a caveat. Glasgow are transitioning to sculling after sweeping all before them in the four. They won at both the National Schools' Regatta (by 20 seconds) and Henley Women's Regatta (by 3 lengths over The Tideway Scullers’ School). Can they do it?