Henley records fall as Chinese flex their quads on Finals Day

Henley Royal Regatta has never been more international in its 183-year history and in years to come the 2022 Finals Day may be remembered for establishing a new world-class pathway for the women’s eights events and the emergence of China. 

Henley Royal Regatta has never been more international in its 183-year history and in years to come the 2022 Finals Day may be remembered for establishing a new world-class pathway for the women’s eights events and the emergence of China. 

"This Regatta has been record-breaking from start to finish."

“This Regatta has been record-breaking from start to finish; from the number of Entries from home and overseas, to new standards being set in the women’s eights events,”  Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, said. “We hoped when we created the Prince Philip (Junior Women’s Eights), the Island (Student Women’s Eights) and the Wargrave (Club Women’s Eights) that it would help establish the pathway to the elite squad, but our athletes and the rowing community have responded beyond our hopes. The depth and quality of these events already has been astounding and the winners can call themselves the best in the world. 

“We had a record overseas Entry this year, but the best thing for the event is to have new names from the USA, Australia, China and New  Zealand, and all winning races - this is part of what makes Henley so special.” 

“This is the first six-day Regatta and we have not staged anything this size since 2019, so I would like to thank all our athletes, our Members and Volunteers for making it possible.”

After a week in which the records for The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy were repeatedly broken, St Catherine’s School from Victoria, Australia beat Winter Park Crew, Florida and can call themselves the best schoolgirl crew in the world. Winter Park have been flying since they came through the Qualifying Races on Friday and beat the British holders (Headington School) and the favourites (Henley Rowing Club) in a hard route to the final. But St Catherine’s held off their trademark late charge in impressive fashion. 

It was part of a golden morning for Australian crews. Their Olympic four, including three Tokyo gold medallists,  also won The Stewards' Challenge Cup (Men’s Coxless Fours) in a new record of 6:26. They beat Great Britain in the latest installment of one of rowing’s most iconic rivalries by the smallest of margins . In one of the closest races in Henley Royal Regatta Finals history, 2,112 metres of gladiatorial racing came down to a foot and a photo finish.

“Obviously, it’s a lot of pressure but throughout the week we’ve tried to relax as much as possible and trust the process, but today has just been amazing,” Bronte Cullen, the stroke for St Catherine’s, said. “We’re just the best group of nine girls you could get. Everyone loves each other so much and it’s just amazing to have been with them. I think I owe it to them for all this.

I just want to say to all our parents, all our family and everyone back in Australia, thank you for all of your support, it just means the world.”

Twenty minutes later, Thames Rowing Club ‘A’ gained revenge for their 2021 defeat in the inaugural year of The Wargrave Challenge Cup (Club Women’s Eight) by scorching past Leander Club. Thames blasted off the start and smashed every event record all the way down the Course. 

“Seven out of the nine of us were in the same crew last year so we couldn’t have wanted it more,” Jessica Eastwood, the Thames stroke said, explaining how they juggled full time jobs. “It’s quite frantic actually. There’s people in our Henley accommodation writing PhDs and catching up on emails, massive amounts of juggling but it’s so rewarding.”  

Chinese Quads

The Chinese National Rowing Team’s quad won their first ever Henley Royal Regatta men’s event - The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Quadruple Sculls) - in commanding fashion over the USA composite crew (Texas Rowing Club & Vesper Boat Club). 

"It's our first time racing Henley, but it's nice to be able to blend Chinese culture with Western culture."

“It’s our first time racing Henley but it’s nice to be able to blend Chinese culture with Western culture and be part of this international event and there’s lots to learn from the British here,” Xudi Yi, the 2 seat for the Chinese quad said. “We felt confident coming into this and knew we could win it, and we executed the plan.” 

Just under an hour later, the Chinese women’s quad confirmed their quad sculls dominance at this Regatta by winning The Princess Grace Challenge Cup (Women’s Quad Sculls), winning through a tougher than expected final against Rowing Australia. 

The women’s quad had become the first ever Chinese winner at Henley in 2019 and their crew included three Tokyo gold medallists - Yunxia Chen, Yang Lyu and Xiao Tong Cui. 

Great Britain eights 2 - Australian eights 0 

If the morning belonged to Australia and China - and Thames Rowing Club, Great Britain’s international eights struck home in the afternoon, winning both contests against Australia. 

Great Britain’s new women’s eight - making its debut  - struck a blow back for earlier defeats in the day and week in beating an experienced Australia boat including two Tokyo gold medallists in The Remenham Challenge Cup (Women’s Eight). For the more junior women’s eights that had gone before them this race is where the pathway may lead to. 

Great Britain, racing as Imperial College & Leander Club,  a combination that won in 2014 and were runner’s up in 2015 and 2019, were a length down at Barrier (1:55). But GB put in a huge push just before Remenham and continued it through the second part of the race as they left Australia behind to win by 1 ⅓ length. 

Half an hour later, the Great Britain eight, racing as Oxford Brookes University & Leander Club were matched off the start but led by ¾ length at Barrier (1:43) and were two lengths up by the Mile as they rowed away with The Grand Challenge Cup, the oldest Cup in the Regatta, first raced for in 1839.

Read about all action on the water here.

Other highlights include:


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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