conditions: Clear, bright, only light cross headwind - the best racing conditions of the Regatta so far giving way to rain squalls in the second half of the session
The Norwegian thriller
Rain squalls notwithstanding at the end the morning heats, the racing was as hot as Wednesday night (without the collisions). At the end of the session, N.S.R. Oslo, Norway won an epic contest with Marlow Rowing Club ‘A’ in The Wyfold Challenge Cup (Club Men's Coxless Four). A year’s training came down to a metre on the line.
Marlow led by ¾ length at Barrier but Oslo surged back and it was side-by-side in the middle stretch. They were edging it by just a foot at the ¾ Mile and it remained that close all the way past a roaring Grandstand.
In the first race of the day, Thames Rowing Club came through a tricky contest against Nottingham Rowing Club in the Wyfold. Thames are holders but winning eights cannot re-enter this event so this is a new outfit. Nottingham had a marginal lead along Temple Island but Thames came through by Barrier (1:59) and then slowly extended to a two length victory.
Today was the first appearance at the Regatta of the smaller boats with the Goblets, Hambleden, Doubles, Diamonds and Princess Royals. There was sad news that Emma Twigg, the New Zealand Olympic champion, had withdrawn from the The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women's Single Sculls) for medical reasons. She had been the heavy favourite, so that has completely opened up the Draw for the rest of the field.
In the The Double Sculls Challenge Cup, Men's Double Sculls, a Regatta favourite in the crew of A.G. King and M.G. Brigham, racing for Leander Club in Race 13. Brigham, whilst still a student at Leeds University, knocked out New Zealand’s double Olympic champion and six-time Diamonds winner Mahé Drysdale by three and a half lengths in 2019 in The Diamond Challenge Sculls.
The Leander duo trailed for the first two-thirds of the race but always looked calm and controlled against A.A. Cowley and D.W.A. Jones, racing for Newark Rowing Club and Leeds Rowing Club, who were warned continually by the Umpire for erratic steering. Leander rowed through, led by half a length at the Mile and won by three lengths.
Henley tested in Prince Philip
In the only The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women's Eight) race of the morning, Henley Rowing Club, the favourites, had to expend more energy than they would have liked in the second round to beat St. Edward’s School in Race 25. St Edward’s led at Barrier (2:11) and although Henley came through with slightly superior bladework they were only ⅔ length ahead at the line and were under pressure all the way.
Conditions: Bright and slightly breezy interspersed with an invigorating downpour at 3.30pm
As if the gods of rowing were angered by the withdrawal of Emma Twigg, the heavens opened as Molly Harding (Molesey Boat Club) completed her unopposed scull over. Twigg, the New Zealand Olympic champion, had withdrawn from The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women's Single Sculls) for medical reasons. Twigg (Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand) won The Princess Royal in 2009 and 2019.
Henry charges on
Earlier, in Race 35, one of Great Britain’s rising stars Lauren Henry (Leicester Rowing Club) beat AMJ Walters (St. George’s College) easily to remind spectators of her epic run to the final last year. She will face USA’s World and Olympic bronze medallist (in the quad) Kara Kohler (Texas Rowing Center), who 15 minutes later, in Race 37, beat fellow-American Brigid Kennedy (Cambridge University).
The return of Zeidler
In The Diamond Challenge Sculls (Men’s single sculls), Oliver Zeidler, Germany’s 6ft 8in European and World Champion (racing for Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 e.V., Germany).
won his first race of The Diamond Challenge Sculls (Men’s Single Sculls) with a controlled win over Britain’s William Young (Cambridge ’99 Rowing Club).
Earlier, Ben Davison (California Rowing Club, U.S.A.) won a hard fought race against Maciej Zawojski (Poland) in Race 36. Davison, despite jumping in and out of the big boat - he was part of the USA eight that finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics last year - has too much strength for Zawojski. Davison, has talked about an American not having won this event for 17 years and clearly means business, form has continued from the bronze in the Men’s Single Sculls in World Cup II at Poznan the weekend before last.
The Windsor ‘B’oys’ are back
It was not all one-way traffic for the international entries as Gippsland Grammar School, Australia were shocked by The Windsor Boys’ School ‘B’ in The Fawley Challenge Cup Junior Men's Quad Sculls in Race 40
The Fawley was the most oversubscribed event this year with 65 entries. After 21 were pre-selected that left 44 quads fighting for 3 places at last Friday’s Qualifying Races. Losing finalists last year, The Windsor Boys School ‘A’ are red hot favourites and their ‘B’ boat are not messing around here either. Gippslands are the Australian national champions in the Schoolboy Coxed Quad and were unbeaten this year.
Headington suffer Florida Winter
There will be a new name on the Prince Philip Challenge Trophy after Winter Park Crew, USA knocked out the holders and inaugural winners, Headington School in Race 42. Winter Park from Florida came through Friday’s Qualifying Races and are flying.
Winter Park had the faster start but could not get clearwater, Headington counterattacked in the second half, but were still ¾ length behind at the finish.
Conditions: Glorious setting sunshine, breeze dropped.
Grant draws a step closer
Imogen Grant (Cambridge University) could benefit from her side of the draw opening up in the
The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women's Single Sculls) with Twigg and Lobnig withdrawing. In Race 61, Grant, who was half of a winning duo in The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women's Double Sculls) last year, had perhaps an easier win than expected over Sarah McKay (Grosvenor Rowing Club). Mckay did herself no favours by crabbing off the start, but Grant had the extra gears.
After holders Headington were beaten by an American crew (Winter Park), last year’s finalists, Surbiton High School beat a much-fancied Australian crew, Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School in a gripping Race 66. Melbourne led by half a length at Barrier (2:07), a quarter of length at Fawley (just before the halfway; 3:34), but Surbiton reeled them in slowly, passed them at The Mile and extended to win by ⅔ length.
Hinksey hearts broken
Then, an hour later Melbourne’s great rival, St Catherine’s School, Australia broke Hinksey Sculling School hearts by knocking them out of the Prince Philip in an equally fantastic Race 77. St Catherine’s led by half a length before the quarter-mile before Hinksey attacked and closed to ¼ length deficit at Barrier (2:09) and a canvas just past the halfway mark. But St Catherine’s dug deep, counterattacked and as they passed a cheering Grandstand pulled to a ¾ length win.
Shiplake trademark win
The evening session showcased the standard of girl’s rowing at this Regatta, with Shiplake College almost creating a trademark style of dominance in the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup (Junior Women's Quad Sculls). Two of their quad won this event last year and it will take something very special to stop them this year. They had too much for Bedford Modern School in Race 64 and were 4 ½ lengths ahead by Barrier (2:12).