Race 28 will see two of the biggest junior names come face-to-face on the Henley stretch, with Eton battling it out against Hampton. Eton, semi-finalists in last year’s Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, will be looking to go one better this year in a side of the draw that also contains Bedford School and St Joseph’s College Nudgee, of Australia. Hampton’s first eight failed to make the finals at the National Schools’ Regatta but half of their crew for Henley Royal won a bronze in Championship Coxed Fours at Dorney in May.
On day one of racing, heats for The Thames Challenge Cup are sure to enthrall the expectant crowds. In race 37, Kingston ‘B’ face Thames Rowing Club ‘A’, who have won this event in two of the past three years. On the other side of the draw Leander have shown some mid-season promise.
Race 56 may well be one to watch. Washington will provide a boat for the competition made of members which formed the first, second and third Varsity crews over in the USA. They’re facing Oxford Brookes ‘B’, another strong entrant from the conveyor belt of quality that their well-established program now produces. Race 36 brings us an all-American encounter between Temple University and Yale University. Although this isn’t Yale’s Varsity Eight, the depth of their program suggests a strong showing from Steve Gladstone’s bulldogs. Namesakes Temple University haven’t raced here for a number of years but earned themselves pre-qualification due to a win at the Dad Vail Regatta earlier this season. Favourites and holders Oxford Brookes ‘A’ go off in Race 68.
Unusually, The Remenham Challenge Cup for women’s eights begins on the Wednesday. The University of Washington, a crew of internationals and NCAA championship medalists, come up against the Tideway Scullers School, who won Club Eights at Henley Women’s Regatta. Oxford Brookes and Yale will clash in race 31. Spectators will be spoiled at Henley Royal Regatta with elite level racing from day one.
From One Blade to Two
St Paul’s School are renowned for their ability in eights, having put together an unbeaten crew at schoolboy level. However, a selection of their second-crew athletes have committed to the quad and are leading the charge against Star and Arrow tomorrow. In a race that is sure to demonstrate the continued elevation of schoolboy sculling, two reserve crews go head-to-head in a battle that will surely go the distance.
The Imperial Return
The Prince Albert Challenge Cup for student coxed fours consistently produces some of the Regatta’s tightest racing. Imperial College, who lost out in the final last year by 2/3 of a length, are back in 2018 with a new-look crew and renewed conviction to take home the trophy. Their opponents, Grand Valley State University of the USA, have travelled across the Atlantic to compete on Henley waters but could be staring down the barrel of defeat as the home favourites look to flex their early racing muscles.