Sunday's Racing Sessions

The Morning Session

Britannia | Thames | © HRR Photos

Lea R.C - Morning Session 27/06/2023 - The Wyfold Challenge Cup @ Ben Rodford

conditions: Bright sunshine and calm

Race 1 11.00 Britannia London R.C. 'A' vs Thames R.C.

Thames Rowing club dominated from start to finish to win The Britannia Challenge Cup (Club Men's Four). Thames, the winners in 2018, executed their perfect final after dominating all season and going into Regatta week as favourites. They led London Rowing Club by 1 ¼ lengths at Barrier (2:02 - the fastest time of the week) and established clear water.

Race 2 11.10 Fawley The Windsor Boys' School 'A' vs The Windsor Boys' School 'B'

Windsor Boys’ School were guaranteed victory in the The Fawley Challenge Cup (Junior Men's Quad Sculls) and their ‘A’ boat showed their class, winning from the front. They were two lengths clear at Barrier (1:59 - which both boats had managed on Friday, but the ‘B’ boat could not reproduce today). 

Windsor Boys’, the winners in 2017 and 2018 and losing finalists last year, have been unbeatable this year and showed the awesome strength of their squad by dominating both sides of the draw. 

Race 3 11.20 P. Wales Reading University 'A' vs Leander Club

Leander Club won the first of their five finals with a commanding win over Reading University ‘A’ in The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (Intermediate Men's Quad Sculls). Local boys Leander were 1 ¼ lengths up at Barrier (1:54) and stretched the lead to over five lengths.  Reading may have spent themselves on Saturday in their surprise semi-final comeback win.

Race 4 11.30 Hambleden J. Morrison & M. Musnicki, USA vs A.G. Campbell-Orde & S.M.A. Heath

The USA-Australian pair of Meghan Musnicki and Jessica Morrison (California Rowing Club), put on an Olympic pairs masterclass for their young Leander Club opponents. They were 2 ½ lengths up by Barrier (2:20) and rowed away to win easily. 

Australia’s Morrison won gold in the Women’s Coxless Four in Tokyo. USA’s Musnicki is a two-time Olympic gold medallist (London and Rio) and five-time World Champion. 

Race 5 11.40 Temple University of Washington, USA vs Oxford Brookes University 'A'

University of Washington stayed with Brookes off the start but Brookes' superior bladework lifted them clear to win The Temple Challenge Cup (Student Men’s Eight). The Huskies led by 2ft at Barrier (1:48) but Brookes reeled them in and were a length up Fawley (1,047m, 9m short of half way). From there they quickly snapped the elastic and were five lengths clear by the time the Grandstand roared them home. 

After their shock exit on the Friday last year, Brookes’ top eight this year won the first of their university’s four finals today with great authority. 

Race 6 11.50 Doubles M.E.C. Haywood & G.J.R. Bourne vs J.C.D. Cleary & C.W. Antill, AUS

Australia’s Olympic bronze medallists, Caleb Antill and Jack Cleary won a high-quality final of The Double Sculls Challenge Cup (Men’s Double Sculls). It was a contest between two crews who will hope to meet again in the World Championships and Paris Olympics. The Australians were ½ length up at Barrier (1:58) and had stretched that out to over a length by halfway and Great Britain’s Matt Haywood and George Bourne (racing as Nottingham Rowing Club & The Tideway Scullers School) could not find a way back. 

The Australians, both 26, started as favourites after winning bronze at World Cup II and were both members of Australia’s Olympic bronze medal-winning quad from Tokyo. Haywood and Bourne were fourth at World Cup I and are vying to be Britain’s number one boat. 

Race 7 12.00 PP St. Catherine's Sch., AUS vs Winter Park Crew, USA

St Catherine’s School won the race of the morning so far, and given the incredible depth of The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women’s Eights) in just its second year, can call themselves the best schoolgirl crew in the world. The Australians win was doubly impressive because their season ends by the beginning of March and so they have had to peak again.

The Australians, the national champions and with three of the national junior eight in the crew, led by ⅓ length at Barrier (2:13), but it was side-by-side against Florida’s impressive Winter Park crew all the way up the 2,112-metre Course. The lead was down to ¼ length at Fawley.

It was the raw aggression of the Australian crew versus the smooth cohesion of Winter Park, who have been flying since they came through the Qualifying Races on Friday. They beat the holders (Headington School) and the favourites (Henley Rowing Club) in a hard route to the final. 

Winter Park pushed them all the way and as they entered the Enclosures (450 metres from the finish) looked like they were about to start climbing past the Australians, but St Catherine’s responded in powerful fashion, upped their rate, and extended to win by ¾ length.

Bronte Cullen, the stroke for St Catherine’s:

How does it feel to cross that line first?
Absolutely exhilarating. It feels like nothing else!

You’ve come into this as national champions, was there pressure to come and face the international crews?
Obviously a lot of pressure but throughout the week we’ve tried to relax as much as possible and detach from all the extra added pressures.

How did today’s race go for you?
I’ve tried to take a step back and relax and trust the process, but today has just been amazing, our crew put our best effort forward, and we couldn't be more proud of everyone.

It’s a long long way to come, what is it about this crew, why do you feel like it’s been so successful?
We’re just the best group of 9 girls you could get. Everyone loves each other so much and it’s just amazing to have been with them. I think I owe it to them for all this.

What’s the support been at home?
I just want to say to all our parents, all our family and everyone back in Australia, thank you for all of your support, it just means the world.

Race 8 12.10 QM Chinese National Rowing Team, CHN vs  Texas R.C. & Vesper B.C., USA

The Chinese National Rowing Team’s quad won their first ever men’s event - The Queen Mother Challenge Cup - in the 183-year history of Henley Royal Regatta in commanding fashion over the USA composite crew (Texas Rowing Club & Vesper Boat Club). 

Ha Zhang, Xudi Yi, Zhiyu Liu and Sulitan Adilijian have been the dominant force this year, winning the first and second World Cups and started as overwhelming favourites. On the evidence of this year Henley may well have just crowned one of the next great forces in men’s sculling. 

The Chinese quad were 1 ½ lengths up at Barrier (1:51), 2 ½ up by Fawley and then held and controlled to the line, responding to each attack before they had made an impression. 

Xudi Yi (2 seat):

“It’s our first time racing Henley but it’s nice to be able to blend Chinese culture with Western culture and be part of this international event and there’s lots to learn from the British here. We felt confident coming into this and knew we could win it, and we executed the plan.” 

Race 9 12.20 Wargrave Thames R.C. 'A' vs Leander Club

Thames Rowing Club gained revenge for their 2021 defeat in the inaugural year of The Wargrave Challenge Cup (Club Women’s Eight) by saving the best until last. Thames blasted  off the start with a higher rate and maintained it throughout, smashing every event record all the way down the Course. 

Thames were a shocking 1 ¼ lengths up by Barrier (2:00 - a record by 3 seconds), and Leander could make no impression. Thames were at Fawley at 3:23, breaking the old record by 4 seconds and produced a powerful second half on top of all that to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 7:06 (a record by 12 seconds).

Jessica Eastwood (stroke) and Natalie Kernan (cox)

Congratulations, a new course record by 12 seconds, how was the race for you?
[Natalie] We had a plan, we stuck to the plan and we executed the plan, the girls gave 110% and it all went well!
[Jessica] Nothing more to add there really! I think we were so hungry for it and executed the plan the best we could. The race of our season.
[Natalie] The race of our lives!

Obviously you girls would’ve known you were fast before this, but is this the result you were expecting? And by that margin?
[Natalie] The margin was a great surprise but the girls did exactly what we planned to do and knew anything was possible! They’re incredibly fast.

Jessica, just how satisfying is it beating Leander, especially having been on the losing side in this final last year?
[Jessica] Amazing! Credit to them, they’re a brilliant club. They are fast and amazing but we went in there hungrier than ever. 7 out of the 9 of us were in the same crew last year so we couldn’t have wanted it more.

And just put it into perspective, you all have full time jobs - how does training around that work?
[Jessica] It’s quite frantic actually! There’s people in our Henley accommodation writing PhDs and catching up on emails, massive amounts of juggling but it’s so rewarding.
[Natalie] When everyone is in the same boat as each other, having to work, it makes us so much more tolerant of each other - because we’re all working together for the same thing, it all makes it worth it.

Race 10 12.30 Stewards' Oxford Brookes University & Leander vs Club Rowing Australia, AUS

Australia’s Olympic gold medallists beat Great Britain in the latest instalment of one of rowing’s iconic rivalries - the coxless fours - by the smallest of margins. In one of the closest races in Henley Royal Regatta history, after 2,112 metres it came down to a foot and a photo finish in The Stewards' Challenge Cup (Men’s Coxless Fours).

It was heartbreak for the young GB boat, racing as Oxford Brookes & Leander, but they set a new benchmark for themselves against an Australian four with three gold medallists from Tokyo (Alex Purnell, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves).  The winners of World Cup I versus the winners of World Cup II turned out to be very close indeed. 

Australia were up by ¾ length at Barrier (1:53) and a length up by Fawley. The British crew launched their attack down the Enclosures in the final few hundred metres and kept closing before they ran out of water. Just. 

The Australians, with three gold medallists from Tokyo (Alex Purnell, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves), are the clear favourites. The young British crew were fast in Belgrade but it will take something extraordinary to beat the Olympic champions. 

Race 11 12.40 Island Brown University, USA vs Yale University, USA

The Brown Bears beat the Bulldogs in a high-quality all-American Island final. Brown were ¾ length up at Barrier (2:00) and at a higher rate kept gradually pulling away up the Course to win by 1 ¾ lengths. 

Brown have been the standout eight this week in an international field of university women’s eights. They set new record in the second year of the Wargrave, beating Oxford Brookes in the semi-final yesterday and were only a second slower to Barrier and Fawley (3:21) today.

Race 12 12.50 Visitors' University of Washington, USA vs Tideway Scullers' Sch. & Molesey B.C.

The Huskies gave their huge Henley team (they brought nine crews to this year’s Regatta) something to cheer about by winning another nail biter in The Visitors' Challenge Cup (Intermediate Men's Coxless Four) and setting a new Course record of 6:26. 

Washington timed their charge to the line better and edged ahead at the Grandstand and The Tideway Scullers & Molesey crew timed their comeback just too late and ran out of water as they surged on the line. 

This was a fantastic race between two development crews, who will be hoping to represent their countries - and renew the contest - at the U23 World Championships. After Race 10, it was a tough morning for Great Britain’s men’s coxless fours, development and senior.

The British boat, including three of St Paul’s record breakers from 2018, were a canvas ahead at Barrier (1:52) and a length ahead at Fawley, but the Huskies charged down the Enclosures. 

Race 13 13.00 P.Grace Rowing Australia, AUS vs Chinese National Rowing Team, CHN

China’s women’s quad confirmed their quad sculls dominance at this Regatta by winning The Princess Grace Challenge Cup (Women’s Quad Sculls). They were pushed surprisingly hard by a young Australia quad but China always looked able to respond to attacks. They were 1 ¼ lengths up at Barrier (2:02) but Australia were able to take back ½ length by the Grandstand as they pushed hard.

China’s women's quad became the first ever Chinese winner at Henley in 2019 and their crew included three Tokyo gold medallists - Yunxia Chen, Yang Lyu and Xiao Tong Cui. The fourth member of the crew is Shiyu Lu, who raced in the Women’s Coxless Four in Tokyo.

The Afternoon Session

CONDITIONS: oVERCAST becoming sunnier

Race 14 2.30 PE Radley College vs St. Paul's School

St Paul’s will have their name on the The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eight) again after holding off the comeback kings from Radley College. 

The two outsiders have grown in confidence during the week, but Radley College had produced one of the shocks of the Regatta after rowing through Eton in Saturday's semi-final.

Radley’s small army of supporters kept waiting for the same to happen but St Paul’s have also been faster in the second half of the Course during this Regatta and held Radley off. 

The much higher rating St Paul’s, the finalists last year and record-breaking winners in 2018, led by ½ length at Barrier in 1:49 - the fastest time of the week and were a length up just past the halfway mark.

Radley looked calm and executed their plan. They pulled back to a canvas behind as they approached the Grandstand, but St Paul’s responded and won by ⅓ length. 

Radley have a young eight, but St Paul’s are even younger with two J16s and a world-record holding J15 - thought to be the first J15 ever in the St Paul’s eight. Both crews could be dominant for the next few years. 

Sebastian Marsoner (6 seat):

"I’ve dreamt of this since 2018 when I was in my first year in school and the older guys set the course record (2018) and since then I’ve wanted to be that, and having just done that is truly the best feeling, given the loss in the final last year.
There's been just 2 returners from last year’s crew and I think this may be the youngest winning crew of the PE.
Henley is 90% recovery, it’s about making sure you’re well rested, well slept, I can probably bet that we have slept the most out of any other crew in this regatta!

Race 15 2.40 PRCC K.M. Kohler USA vs I.D. Grant

The top openweight beat the top lightweight. USA’s Kara Kohler (Texas Rowing Center) beat Imogen Grant (Cambridge University) in The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women's Single Sculls). Kohler was 1 ¼ lengths up at Barrier (2:23), 2 ½ at Fawley and then controlled from the front, keeping an eye on Grant’s trademark fast finish and responding. 

Kohler (Texas Rowing Center), who just won bronze in the Women’s Double Sculls at World Cup II was an Olympic bronze medallist in the quad (London 2012) and won World Championship bronze in the single (W1x) 2019. Grant stroked the women's Blue Boat to victory this year, along with winning the LW1x at National Trials and placing 2nd overall. She is a Tokyo 2020 Olympian and won the LW2x at World Cup I in Belgrade in May.

Race 16 2.50 Wyfold Thames R.C. vs N.S.R. Oslo, NOR

Three finals won, one to go for Thames Rowing Club after they beat N.S.R Oslo in The Wyfold Challenge Cup (Club Men's Coxless Four). Given their similar times during the week it was surprisingly comfortable for Thames as they led by 1 ¼ lengths (1:56) and kept extending and kept pushing and they won easily. 

Race 17 3.00 Remenham Rowing Australia, AUS vs Imperial College London & Leander

Great Britain’s new women’s eight struck a blow back for earlier defeats in the day and week in beating an experienced Australia boat including two Tokyo gold medallists in The Remenham Challenge Cup (Women’s Eight). Great Britain, racing as Imperial College & Leander Club,  a combination that won in 2014 and were runner’s up in 2015 and 2019, were a length down at Barrier (1:55). But GB put in a huge push just before Remenham and continued it through the second part of the race as they left Australia behind to win by 1 ⅓ length. 

Henley Royal Regatta was GB’s debut as an eight. Three of the eight were in the Leander Club boat that won last year. 

Rowing Australia were considered marginal favourites. They had four of the eight that were fifth at the Tokyo Olympics. They have two of the four (W4-), Lucy Stephan and Annabelle McIntyre. who won gold in Tokyo.

Race 18 3.10 Diamonds D.A. Bartholot, AUS vs O. Zeidler, GER

The 6ft8in German World Champion, Oliver Zeidler, won The Diamond Challenge Sculls (Men’s Single Sculls) for the second time dominating Australia’s David Bartholot from start to finish. He was ¾ length up at Barrier (2:09) and two lengths up just past halfway. But Bartholot forced Zeidler to keep racing much deeper into the Course and the German was nearly a minute faster than in the semi-final.

Race 19 3.20 Stonor M.M. Reckford & M.A. Sechser, USA/USA vs A.L.C. Reardon & L.J. Coleman, AUS

Two international lightweight crews and a great contest in The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women’s Double Sculls). The Australia double led by ½ length at Barrier (2:14) but the Americans, racing for Sarasota Crew and Cambridge Boat Club,

U.S.A. attacked repeatedly and eventually broke their rivals. During level at Fawley and then pulling away in the second part of the race.

Race 20 3.30 Grand Oxford Brookes University & Leander Club vs Rowing Australia, AUS

Great Britain’s eights have struck back in the afternoon against Australian domination earlier in the day, as the men’s eight backed up the win by the women in the Remenham. It was much less of a surprise, with the British crew starting the week as favourites. 

The Great Britain eight, racing as Oxford Brookes University & Leander Club were matched off the start but led by ¾ length at Barrier (1:43) and were two lengths up by the Mile as they rowed away with The Grand Challenge Cup, the oldest Cup in the Regatta, first raced for in 1839.

GB had two of the boat that won the for Oxford Brookes University last year, but this is the first win by the Great Britain eight at Henley since 2015. 

GB had form, experience and local knowledge. They had a commanding win by more than 10 seconds over the Netherlands and China at World Cup I in Belgrade at the end of May and four of the eight that won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Race 21 3.40 Town Danmarks Rocenter, DEN vs Waiariki R.C., NZL

A first victory for New Zealand at the Regatta this year in The Town Challenge Cup (Women's Coxless Four). The Danes, a new crew who were second at World Cup I in May, were ½ length up at Barrier (2:06), but the more experienced NZ four, racing for Waiariki Rowing Club, started a push at Fawley, were a canvas ahead at ¾ Mile and gradually pulled away to the finish. The NZ four includes Beth Ross, who won a silver medal with the NZL eight in Tokyo.

Race 22 3.50 Ladies'  Leander Club vs Univ. of California, Berkeley, USA

Twenty minutes after the Grand, Leander Club put their name on the next fastest eight event,  The Ladies' Challenge Plate (Intermediate Men’s Eight) for the first time since 2016 by beating many people’s favourites, University of California, Berkeley.

Leander led the Golden Bears from start to finish. They were ½ length up at Barrier  (1:45) and steadily extended through the Course to win by a length. 

The relatively comfortable win was a surprise because Cal started the week as hot favourites after a dominant season and emphatic win at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships at the beginning of June. Cal has eight of the nine athletes from their Varsity 8 that beat Yale into second by over two seconds, and included two Tokyo Olympians.

Race 23 4.00 Jubilee Claires Court School vs Redwood Scullers, USA

Claires Court backed up their incredible win over holder Shiplake College in their semi-final on Saturday by beating the unbeaten USA quad, the Redwood Scullers, to win The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup (Junior Women’s Quad Sculls) for the first time. 

Redwood led by ½ length at Barrier (2:12) and a length past Fawley, but like on Saturday, Claires put in a huge push and were just a canvas behind at The Mile. They were roared home through the Enclosures to win by ⅔ of length and their astonished joy after crossing the line told the story of the miraculous week. 

Race 24 4.10 P. Albert Univ. of California, Berkeley 'A', USA  vs Oxford Brookes University 'A'

Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ won the The Prince AIbert Challenge Cup (Men’s Student Four) inflicting a second defeat on University of California, Berkeley, USA in the space of twenty minutes.

Cal led by a length at Barrier (1:59) but Brookes started remorselessly reeling them in from before Fawley, had taken the lead by Remenham and were ¾ length ahead at The Mile. They held Cal over the last quarter and were cheered through the Grandstand as they won by a length. 

Race 25 4.20 Goblets O.H. Wynne-Griffith & T.J.E. George vs M. Macdonald & T. Mackintosh, NZL

Matt Macdonald and Tom Mackintosh, racing as Waiariki Rowing Club, won New Zealand’s second event of the day.

Britain’s top pair, Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George, racing for Cambridge University, were part of the Cambridge eight in the Boat Race this year and the Olympic bronze medal-winning boat in Tokyo. Macdonald and Mackintosh were part of NZ’s Olympic gold medal-winning eight from Tokyo. The New Zealand pair won World Cup II, beating the Netherlands pair by a similar margin to the one the British pair managed in World Cup I.

Race 26 4.30 Thames Molesey B.C. 'A' vs Thames R.C. 'A'

Molesey Boat Club gained revenge for defeat in the final of The Thames Challenge Cup (Club Men’s Eight) last year to Thames Rowing Club in a tight race to close Finals Day. It was a first win for Molesey since 2016 and the first defeat for Thames in four finals today. 

Thames led along Temple Island, but Molesey had drawn level by Barrier (1:46) and were ½ length by Fawley. Thames kept attacking but Molesey held them at bay. Tom Worthington made it back-to-back Henley wins after winning the Prince Albert last year and Ollie Salonna added it to his Wyfold win.

Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup | St Paul's School | © HRR Photos

Diamonds | Ollie Zeidler | © HRR Photos