Morning Briefing with Sarah Winckless - Thursday

 All the things you need to know about the racing today at Henley Royal Regatta with Sarah Winckless, Race Umpire, Steward and Olympic medallist.


We’re here Thursday morning, the water is looking pretty flat and whilst there is a slight cross headwind on the flag by the church, it is fluttering not horizontal as we’ve seen in the last few days. At the moment, I would say the conditions are the best for the athletes that we’ve had and we can expect some fierce racing. 

It was hot yesterday in events in their second day, such as the Princess Elizabeth and Visitors’, we had 13 races decided by a length or less - and it’s just going to get hotter. 

What we’re wondering is how these athletes are managing their way through the Regatta. The tight races will build up on these crews, having to go into that really deep effort to win. We’ll start to look at what their experience was the day before and what happened yesterday - for instance time to Barrier (just past the quarter-mile). 

Hopefully, as Stewards we’ve created a draw that enables the fast crews to come through, however they’re going to start meeting each other now. 

The crowd will see it and the athletes will feel it too - the wall of noise that comes down the Grandstand is just extraordinary. It’s filling up already and we’re an hour and a quarter before the first race. As the crowds start to come in and they are passionate about the races you’ll start to hear that sound building. 

You can feel the passion. Both sides of the booms are becoming busy. Obviously in our Enclosures it’s fantastic to have our Members and their Guests having a great time. But one of the wonderful things about Henley Royal Regatta is that if you have a boat you can just tie it up to the booms and be right in the action. We started to see some iconic boats show up. 

As an athlete, I used to row on bow side and if you are on the Buckingham Station it’s the most extraordinary experience as you’re going towards the Grandstand because obviously you’re in the black, trying to do your best strokes and there’s somebody right there, literally. On bow side you lean out that way. It is just discombobulating because in rowing we spend all our time on big lakes in six-lane racing and it’s quite a cathedral-like experience as an athlete, here it’s like you’re in the cauldron not the cathedral.  

Today we’ve got Princess Grace, Goblets, Hambleden, Doubles, Diamond and Princess Royals in our elite categories. 

Thames, Wyfold, Prince of Wales, Island, Prince Albert, Prince Philip Fawley and Diamond Jubilee; so we’re going across the whole spectrum of the Regatta.


Race 1 - 9.30 Wyfold 366 Nottingham R.C. vs 375 Thames R.C.

These clubs have met each other twice in this event before in 2012 and 2016 and it’s one-all. They did the same time to the Barrier yesterday. Thames Rowing Club won this event last year but of course those athletes can’t come back and do the same event again.  

Race 7 - 10.05 Fawley 431 Hinksey Sculling School vs 455 St. Andrew B. C.

I umpired Hinksey on Tuesday and they rowed through their opponent. They come up against St Andrew Boat Club - which is the first time we’ll see them in the Regatta.  

Race 9 - 10.15 Doubles 648 B.L. Mulder & N.J.H. Boonstra, NED vs 645 V.V. Kleshnev & J.M. Cartwright

We’ve got the Nereus Dutch entry, good U23 athletes, Boonstra has family members who compete in the international events, so clearly good pedigree there. Kleshnev and Cartwright are Great Britain development squad. Valeri Kleshnev used to do all our biomechanics for the team - all the telemetry in the boat.

Race 33 - 2.10 Thames 28 City of Bristol R.C. vs 49 Münchner Ruderclub von 1880, GER

After lunch - both had similar time to the Barrier yesterday. 

Race 40 - 2.50 Fawley 424 Gippsland G.S., AUS vs 471 The Windsor Boys' School 'B'

Windsor Boys’ School ‘A’ are very strong in this event, there ‘B’ crew is not slow and they’re coming up agains the Australians - it will be interesting. 

Race 42 - 3.05 PP 300 Winter Park Crew, USA vs 281 Headington School

Winter Park came through the qualification then got Selected (seeded); we know they’re very quick. Headington (the holders) looked good yesterday; we know they haven’t been competing so much in the eight. I think that will be really tough draw for both of them. 

Race 67 6.35 Island 231 Yale University, USA vs 223 Univ. British Columbia, CAN

I umpired UBC yesterday and they took care of Princeton pretty well and handled the conditions well. 

Race 77 - 7.35 PP 288 St. Catherine's Sch., AUS vs 283 Hinksey Sculling School

They both had quick times yesterday. Their Director of Rowing said yesterday that they’re a light crew and get up to speed quickly, so are looking at the middle of the race more than the time to Barrier. I laughed, gently, because a light crew might go quicker in the first ten strokes, but you’re moving the boat quickly to get all the way to the Barrier (just past the quarter-mile) in a fast time. 

Clearly, the times yesterday were slow. Being able to manage your way through the second part of the race as the Regatta goes on will be critical.