It was a good morning for any Etonians lining the bank, as two of their crews successfully navigated the heats of the Princess Elizabeth and Temple Challenge Cups. In the event for schoolboy eights, Eton saw off fierce rivals Hampton School, striding away from the barrier with a clear advantage and never relinquishing the lead. Eton’s second eight, who impressed by qualifying for the competition as schoolboys, maintained their strong domestic form by beating a student crew from Newcastle University in the Temple Challenge Cup.
The Wednesday of Henley Royal Regatta brought a substantial number of closely contested races, with some thrilling comebacks to keep the crowds on their feet. In the re-rowed Wyfold Challenge Cup encounter between Stratford Upon Avon Boat Club and Swan River of Australia, the verdict was four feet whilst St Neots Rowing Club ‘B’, who were only called up for the Regatta yesterday after a late withdrawal, edged out Worcester in the Wyfold Challenge Cup by a foot. In one of the final races of the day, the National University of Ireland, Galway overtook A.S.R. Nereus in the closing metres to win by a canvas in an opening heat of the Prince Albert Challenge Cup.
2018 marks a historic first for The Remenham Challenge Cup, the event for premier women’s eights, racing on day one. Domestic opposition fell short however, as Yale University, recent finalists at Henley Women’s Regatta, dispatched a tidy outfit from Oxford Brookes University. Roeivereniging Silvia of the Netherlands beat Newcastle University, the University of Iowa defeated a Molesey and Edinburgh composite and the University of Washington saw off the attentions of a strong Tideway Scullers School club crew.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Bedford School’s contest with Monkton Combe School was plain sailing, with the former running out as comfortable winners. For those watching the crews however, the reality was anything but. Bedford got out to a strong start, backed up by a successful season of racing at First Eight level, and led the race by a substantial margin at the Fawley marker. However, disaster then struck, as the seven man caught a boat-stopping crab which halted their charge. Bedford recovered to take the win but may not be afforded such mistakes in the future.
The Temple Challenge Cup regularly produces some of the Regatta’s most exciting racing, and it began with a bang as Bath University came from behind to defeat the University of Bristol by 2/3 of a length during the morning session. An all Holland-affair saw A.S.R. Nereus upset the Stewards’ form book to knock out selected boat Proteus Eretes in a statement of intent. American student crews are often considered amongst the finest in the world, and there were wins for Yale, Princeton, Brown, Syracuse and Washington Universities along with Orange Coast College of California.
Thursday will bring second contests for some and debuts for others, as a selection of smaller-quota events get started. The Britannia, Visitors, Goblets, Diamond Sculls, Diamond Jubilee and Prince of Wales all begin tomorrow, whilst the match-ups created by some excellent racing on Wednesday promise further excitement. The armada of American eights in the Temple Challenge Cup will look to overturn a run of winless appearances dating back to 2012, whilst the selected crews in the Fawley Challenge Cup enter an already crowded fray. We will also see St Paul’s School, reigning national champions and reputed to be one of the fastest junior eights ever, make their Henley debut as the Stewards chose to seed them through to the Thursday.