Mahe Drysdale

Inside Lines - Thursday 30th June 2016

Today at Henley

The second day of Henley Royal Regatta saw its fair share of controversy to match the stunning conditions and superb racing on offer. The first round of five new events, including a fiercely contested small boat contingent, saw appearances from Olympians and world champions, whilst the club, student and junior categories continued in competitive fashion. The Great Britain rowing squad for the upcoming Rio Paralympic Games was also announced as they rowed past the crowd during the lunch break.

The day began at 8:30 am with a comfortable win for Fulham Reach Boat Club ahead of the opening heats of the Prince Albert, Silver Goblets & Nickalls, Double Sculls and Prince of Wales Challenge Cup.

Sydney Sorrow

Clashing has become an occupational hazard for crews confronted with the two-lane course, and Sydney Rowing Club came unstuck after failing to abide by their station. The Australian crew, racing for a quarter-final place in the Thames Challenge Cup, were disqualified on the course by the umpire for fouling their opposition, N.S.R Oslo. The latter crew will race against SeeClub Luzern tomorrow.  See the race here.

Teddies triumph against old rivals

St Edward’s School produced a remarkably resilient performance to see off repeated challenges from Hampton School and book their place in Friday’s quarter-final. The public school from Oxfordshire were considered underdogs going into this morning’s race, but delivered a race of maturity and composure in the face of intense pressure to beat Hampton by 2/3 of a length. Head coach Jonny Singfield said: “The boys rowed very maturely and kept their heads under a lot of pressure. They really opened up in the last minute of the race to pull through and secure the win.”

Steering Issues

The Henley headwind has been wreaking havoc with crews throughout the first two days of the Regatta, as boats struggle with steering off the start. In a heat of the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, Christiania Roklub of Norway rowed headlong into the booms, leaving home favourites Leander Club to paddle away for an easy victory. St Petersburg University also had trouble with their steering against Harvard University in the Temple Challenge Cup, although it failed to deter an impressive crimson crew who will surely now be considered one of the favourites for the student eights event. Coach Patrick Lapage acknowledged the aggressive style of the Russians. “We knew they would be fast off the start and so it proved,” he explained. “We were ready to absorb the pressure and were in control in the last 300-400 meters but it was a tough contest.”

Near disaster for Drysdale

The star attraction at this year’s Regatta might not have made it to Henley at all after his plane was forced to re-route minutes before landing. Mahe Drysdale, Olympic champion and five-times winner of the Diamond Challenge Sculls, was dropped at Luton airport instead of Stansted after potholes on the runway forced a quick rethink from cabin crew. Thankfully, the New Zealand born sculler made it to Henley and secured a comfortable opening victory against Cedric Berrest in his 2:50 pm heat.

London Calling in the Wyfolds

When the Tideway Scullers School ‘A’ boat lines up on the start for their Wyfold Challenge Cup quarter-final tomorrow, they will see a crew they know all too well opposite them. Due to the depth of the squad, they’ll be up against the Tideway Scullers School ‘B’ in a clash which is sure to split fans of the famous London club.

Somme Memorial Planned

Tomorrow will see a two-minute silence observed across the Regatta at 11.00 am in commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1st July 1916. The battle, which was fought between British, French and German armies, killed or injured over a million men and lasted until 18th November 1916. The remembrance will take place in the Stewards’ Enclosure, with the remaining Regatta areas also invited to observe the silence, which will commence with The Last Post.