Off the Water Raw – Saturday


Laura – you’re now one step closer to Sunday, you’re in the final now. Talk me through the race, Oxford Brookes were coming right back at you. 

Fintan – yeah, I feel like they got a few good lengths, but we got into a rhythm and it was all good after that. 

Laura – yes we were talking about how it was your first Regatta, what is this experience like? You’ve come straight from the Olympic games, and now you’re here at a very different sort of event. 

Fintan – yes it’s cool, totally different experience to normal racing, it’s like a minute and a half longer than we’re used to. But I’m having a lot of fun thankfully. 

Laura – Paul, how did find the race today with Brookes charging back on you a little bit? 

Paul – yes we had an interesting race, with Fintan doing a bit of a triathlon – fishing, swimming and rowing. And then Brookes had an excellent start, but then Fintan set his eyes on rowing again and laid down the power there thankfully. I think it was all for the showbusiness really, he did it for the crowds to keep things interesting. But Brookes put up a big fight and we were sprinting at the finish, but we had a bit of a lead to hold on. 

Laura – your opposition is yet to be decided as well – how are you feeling ahead of tomorrow?

Paul – there are some strong double sculls out there, so whoever makes it to the final will be tough opposition, and we’re really looking forward to taking them on. This is the event we’ve targeted all year. 

Laura – this one, not Tokyo, is the one it’s all about! 

Paul – yes this one is what it’s all about

Laura – and Fintan, this is your first Regatta, you’ve got to come away with a win right?

Fintan – yes, you know, we’ve had a few good practice runs so looking forward to getting it done tomorrow. 

Laura – talk me through the preparation you’ve had for the Henley Royal Regatta

Fintan – a lot of rest since the Olympics really, a bit of training. Just trying to keep sharp, you know. 

Laura – any celebrating?

Fintan – ah, you know, it was nice to win Tokyo but we’ve got our eyes set on tomorrow now. It should be good! 


Laura – you’ve just won this epic race against Hollandia Roeiclub, Netherlands – what was going through your minds? 

Jess – we just thought, we don’t know what speed they’re going to be, we know how fast we can go so we just trusted that at the beginning. I could see them when we were just about half way and I said ‘Georgie, we’re coming back, trust me!’

Laura – what was the call, on your bow seat? 

Jess –  I was just like, ‘I’m on their stern, we’re coming through, trust me, trust you’ and she did it. 

Laura – and Georgie’s come out covered in blood. Honestly, rowing, hard as nails. The call from Jess then, ‘trust us, trust the boat, trust this process’, how inspiring was that for you coming through? 

Georgie – Jess is so experienced, she’s been rowing so so many years at international level, and I just know she can do it. I trust absolutely everything Jess says behind me. We’ve only been in this double for three weeks, but we’ve both come on so far. I’ve learnt how to stay loose in wind, before I thought I was really scrappy. But I thought you know what, what we’ve done in the last few weeks has just made us faster, and then Jess said ‘we’re on their stern’ and I thought, yes, oh my god we can see them! 

And I was just like, trust everything Jess says, she’s the best partner ever. 

Laura – let’s talk about tomorrow, you’ve got the GB lightweight double Olympic sculls, you’ve got Grant and Craig tomorrow potentially if they win after lunch. Talk me through that. 

Jess – well we know Georgie and Imo so well, we’ve trained with them for the past 5/6 years, they’re great girls, they’re so experienced . It’s just great to see them out from Tokyo and race them again. 

Laura – Jess, can I have a word from you on Tokyo, we know how difficult it’s been for you, with contracting Covid and having to miss the Tokyo game. Does this feel like some sort of redemption, burying it in anger? 

Jess – I’m not really racing in anger, like Georgie said, we’ve just really enjoyed ourselves, and we’ve just worked on ourselves and each other. We’ve got back to the club, I’ve recovered from Covid and just really happy to be here and be racing. 

Laura – do you dare to dream about winning tomorrow? 

Georgie – well yeah, why wouldn’t we? If we stick to exactly what we did today, stay loose, anything could happen! 

Susie Dear & Sam Redgrave (Leander Club & university of london) - the Hambleden pairs challenge cup; WOMEN’S PAIR OARS (race N°12 Winners)

Laura -  congratulations, a win today of course in the women’s pair. You were actually racing crews that also boated for Leander as well. It was a bit close for comfort at the start wasn’t it?

Sam – it’s always a bit awkward racing your crew mates, but it was still awesome to be able to do that, to race with someone you’ve been racing with, it was a privilege. We didn’t necessarily have the best of starts, but we had it under control and we managed to lengthen it out and get out clean. 

Susie – it’s always a bit daunting steering on the course, so I think our focus was to get out clean, get out straight. Then once we were on the boom safely, and have a bit of a rhythm reset and go from there really. It was my first time in a cox’s boat at Henley Royal Regatta, Sam’s first run down the track, so I’m pleased we managed to go from A to B with no hiccoughs in the steering.  

Laura – you’re actually doubling up so you’re racing in the Remenham, obviously no steering for you in the elite women’s eight, so it’s a heavy old day for you both?  

Sam – it is yes, but this is what we’ve been prepping for in the future, being able to race multiple times a day. We’re excited for the Remenham, that’s been our focus for a big chunk of the season, so really looking foward to it. 

Laura – Susie, we saw your mum when the race was on, and she said ‘I can’t watch, absolutely can’t look at the screen’, she gets so nervous for you. She also mentioned that you burnt your neck on your hair straighteners and that was the biggest drama of the day! 

Susie – it is a big drama of the day! I was thinking of putting a plaster over, but that would look even more suspect so I just left it. 

Laura – so your mum, the support you get from friends and family is now coming through the pandemic and everyone’s back at the Regatta it must mean so much you being back on the water. 

Sam – it’s awesome. Being able to hear people on the bank has been just so special, you never really get that when you’re training here and to experience it for the first time is just insane. We really appreciate all those people who’ve stuck by us, especially through lockdowns, my housemates had to put up with erging in the living room, weights in the living room. The erg – that horrible noise!

Susie – yes I feel really lucky to have such awesome friends and family, it’s been hard for everyone this past year. I feel like what we do isn’t just for us but also the supporters. 


Friday, 13 August: Everyone’s rushing to the banks because they want to see the newly crowned Olympic champions. 

Paul – the last time I came here it was not long after we had won a silver medal at the Olympics with my brother. This time I’ve changed partners, I’ve got Fintan McCarthy. And we won a gold medal fortunately a couple of weeks back in Japan. I think the Tokyo experience was really good. 

Fintan – everyone was really happy, I thought that was nice, to put rowing on the map a bit. 

Paul - Since 2019 we’ve been rowing double sculls together because we’ve come first and second in the doubles trials at home so I think forming a partnership with Fintan has been working well so far. So when I raced with my brother we made the finals at the double sculls and unfortunately we got knocked out on the Sunday which was really very silly of us. If we had known that was going to happen we would have probably got knocked out on the Friday maybe to enjoy the event a bit better. 

Fintan, it’s his first time, and he’s really naïve and wanted to go training here. I told him, this is not the type of regatta you go to go training at Fintan, this is serious business. 

Fintan – as you can tell, Paul’s been around the block at Henley so he knows exactly what’s going on. Everyone always raves about it, it’s a great atmosphere and all that. 

Paul – I’ve really realised that winning is better than not winning, and that’s what we’re going to try and do this weekend. Rowing often doesn’t draw massive crowds, but Henley does every year. So it’s really great that they’ve been able to have it again this year. Fintan is looking forward to that experience and getting some cheers from the bank. 

Fintan – yes, it’s been a while.

Paul – this is the big event for us, and the one that we’ve focussed on all year, and put all our attention to detail towards. Hopefully we are going to peak just in time and put in our best performance this weekend. I speak nothing but the truth I’ll let you know. 

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Seb Devereux (Leander club) - the Diamond Challenge Sculls; men's single sculls (Race n°3 Winner)

Laura – Seb has just beaten Dara Alizadeh of Cambridge University. A brilliant Saturday semi-final for you. Talk me through, it was a tough race wasn’t it?

Seb – it was tough, I was quite pleased to have an early start time because in a single it can get choppy out there  with the wind and the boats going by so we had slightly nicer conditions. I was able to get off the start quite quickly. 

Laura – it was a healthy margin of victory as well – he is an Olympian – did you expect that? I’m sure you hoped for it.

Seb – yes well you can never really tell with Henley, with the wash and the wind, so you have to treat every athlete and every race with respect. You’ve seen people catch crabs, and with the Oxford Brookes Race yesterday it went down to the line and they got rown through. So you never know, are never quite comfortable and so I approached him with respect and I knew he was going to do the same for me and it was quite a battle, I was fortunate to come out on top. 

Laura – Graeme Thomas awaits tomorrow, fresh from Tokyo. How do you feel about that?

Seb – so last time Graeme and I raced it was at Olympic trials in 2020 and he just got me by a length or so definitely a wrong to be righted there, I’m looking forward to meeting the challenge tomorrow. It’s very different side by side racing compared to six abreast. 

Laura – finally we’re back here at Henley after a year away – how good is it to be back?

Seb – it’s amazing. My first race on Friday (not including the rowover on Thursday) was the first in 18 months. I’ve done some rehab on my back, but training in a single has been quite a lonely existence, as it always is for single scullers, and without any races. But it’s great to be back. Such a major event, so it means the world.