Since the foundation of the Regatta in 1839, four different courses have been used:

  • The Old Course, in use from 1839 to 1885, started on the Berkshire side at the upstream end of Temple Island, and extended upstream for about 1 mile and 550 yards to finish near Henley Bridge.

  • The New Course was inaugurated in 1886 and, at the same time, the number of crews in a heat was reduced to two. The New Course started on the Buckinghamshire side near the downstream end of Temple Island and finished at Poplar Point. It was piled and eventually boomed throughout and included two slight angles.

  • The Experimental Course - the first to be in a straight line - was only 1 mile and 440 yards in length and was tried in 1923. The Start was on the Berkshire side of the Island and the Finish a short distance upstream of Poplar Point.

  • The Straight Course, first used in 1924, required the removal of part of Temple Island and part of the opposite Berkshire bank. This Course is the same length as the Old and New Course. It is 80 feet wide and runs straight from below the Berkshire side of Temple Island to finish at Poplar Point. It is the Straight Course which is still in use today.


The traditional length of the Course is 1 mile 550 yards (2,112 metres), which was the longest distance of open water that could be obtained in 1839 on the Henley Reach.

  The Barrier Fawley The Finish
The Start 2089 feet 3435 feet 6930 feet
The Barrier   1346 feet 4841 feet
Fawley     3495 feet


The length of the second part of the Course from Fawley to the Winning Post thus remains sixty feet longer than the first part from the Start to Fawley.

The Course in 1987