Thursday's Racing Sessions

The Morning Session

Newcastle University ‘A’ defeat the Dutch to set up a quarter-final grudge match against Durham University © HRR

Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ reaching the finishing line as winners of their round of The Island Challenge Cup ( Student Women's Eight ) © Ben Rodford

conditions: Brightening, with a light tailwind

A tailwind in the emerging sunshine produced record-breaking conditions and the women’s events, getting stronger every year, delivered in style. 

Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ showed the power of the women’s programme is matching their men’s, with new records in the Island as they beat Edinburgh University ‘A’. Brookes set new records to the Barrier and Fawley of 1:58 and 3:19 respectively. 

Newcastle University ‘A’’s romantic run continues. After shocking Princeton - doubly so because it was so comfortable - on Wednesday, they looked just as good beating the Dutch boat, R.S.V.U Okeanos on Thursday morning in Race 9. Newcastle were in control from the start and were a length up at the Barrier and looked superior in technique and power as they moved clear. Newcastle’s form this season has given little indication of such a run and they needed to come through Qualifying on Friday. 

Just over an hour later,  in Race 22, Durham University set up a grudge match quarter-final against Newcastle as they beat Harvard’s Radcliffe Crew ‘A’, USA in even more emphatic fashion having opened a four length lead by the Barrier. Durham, also a Qualifier but given a bye yesterday -  looks to have the edge over Newcastle. They were just a second slower than Brookes to both the Barrier and Fawley and were being pushed much less hard. 

Two races later Tyne A.R.C made it another great day for the northeast with a controlled win over London Rowing Club in the Wargrave - the Club Women's Eight, pathway event from the Island.

Prince Philip records shattered

The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women’s Eight) was arguably the most competitive event of the 2022 Regatta and once again it is the international entries setting an ever faster pace. 

Winter Park, USA, who have five of the eight that lost the final last year, looked formidable as they beat a strong Hinksey Sculling School in Race 15. With Hinksey pushing them all the way, Winter Park, from Florida, set a new record to the Barrier of 2:05 and Fawley, 3:29, where they led by 1 ¼ lengths, and finished in a new Course record of 7:13 (beating the record set last year by a huge 8 seconds). And there is more to come because their bladework and steering might have been tidier. 

One record lasted an hour and a half as St. Catherine’s School, AUS - a different St Cats from the ones who beat Winter Park in the final (this one is from New South Wales not Victoria) took up the challenge as they beat Tideway Scullers’s School in Race 30. St Catherine’s broke Winter Park’s record to the Barrier by a second with 2:04 and were 2 ½ lengths clear. They equalled 3:29 to Fawley before finishing in relatively relaxed fashion in 7:20 (which would have been a new record but for Winter Park’s earlier mark). 

Conditions on the Henley Course change from session to session and year to year but this was as reliable a form guide as we can get and all the remaining crews will be acutely aware of the challenge they face. 

Closest races of the morning:

Race 3 - In an early race tipped to be a possible upset in Sarah Winckless’ ‘Ones to Watch’, Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club ‘B’ staved off Marlow Rowing Club’s top quad in the Diamond Jubilee (Junior Women's Quad Sculls) to take the win by ⅔ of a length. With Wycliffe taking an early lead, Marlow were able to reduce Wycliffe’s advantage to just a single foot by the Mile, forcing Wycliffe’s hand to produce a dominant final few hundred metres to confidently take the win.

Race 13 - Following sunnier spells and a light headwind flowing down the course, boats started to set some quick times, with one of the best pushed races coming in the Diamond Jubilee, in which St Edwards School ‘A’ were drawn against Oregon Rowing Unlimited, USA. The British crew took an early lead, leading the illustrious Oregon crew to the ¾ mile by ¼ length with records falling, at which point the Americans found some more speed and went on to win the race by a length. Oregon are proving their speed on British water after having won at US Rowing’s Youth National Championships over a month ago.

Race 16 - Sarah Winckless called a close one in her Morning Briefing and so it proved as Grzeskowiak, the Australian Henley Women's Regatta winner, was reeled in by Hodgkin Byrne (Upper Thames) before re-taking the lead right at the end through the Stewards’ Enclosures in the Princess Royal (Women’s Single Sculls). Grzeskowiak led a length at the ¼ Mile but they were level just before Remenham before Hodgkin Byrne  began eking out a lead of ½ a length before she was caught, passed and lost by a length. 

Race 28 - In another ‘A’ vs ‘B’ crew contest, Leander ‘B’ faced Hinksey Sculling School ‘A’, and although the Leander crew were gutsy off the start, Hinksey always had contact with the crew even with some inconsistent steering. Hinksey were able to move through from the Remenham and took the race by ¾ of a length.

The Afternoon Session

CONDITIONS:  Sunny with patchy clouds and a light tailwind

Brookes go three for three

Oxford Brookes continued to turn the Thames burgundy in the afternoon session, winning in races across the Town, Prince Albert, and Island events. Their clear early leads in the first two events particularly, beating Wallingford Rowing Club and U.S.R. Triton, NED, meant that both the Town and Prince Albert crew’s true speed is unknown over this 2112m course.

A Hoop and a holler 

In a rematch of a Wyfold race in the morning session, Tyne Rowing Club were once again drawn against K.A.R.Z.V. De Hoop, NED. Determined to avenge their club mates, Tyne’s Thames Challenge Cup crew went out with a fury, but lost contact with the Dutch past the Temple Island and were unable to reel them back in. De Hoop were met by the clamour of the large Dutch contingent present in the Stewards’ enclosures.

Slick Wycliffe

Racing against Sir William Borlase’s Girl School in the Diamond Jubilee, Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club ‘A’ showed why people are sitting up from their deckchairs and taking note of this Junior Women's Quad Sculls crew. After having dominated the domestic scene over the last few weeks, winning at National Schools Regatta and Henley Women’s Regatta in quick succession, they made light work of their opposition, taking a lead of three lengths by the Barrier and turning to a polished square blades drill to send themselves down the course.

Closest races of the afternoon:

As predicted by Sarah Winckless in her ‘Ones to Watch’, today’s afternoon showcased some brilliant rowing, but few races which were hard fought. Rather, this afternoon offered some fast racing conditions, with a rippling tailwind and flatter water. Thursday introduces a number of events as yet uncontested (Town, Princess Grace, Hambleden, Stonor, and the Princess Royal), and as such showcases new talent at the regatta up against often unseeded competition. There was one race which bucked this trend however:

Race 59 - Giving the crowds a final burst of adrenaline before the close for Tea was a match up between University of Pennsylvania ‘B’ from the USA and Oxford Brookes University ‘B’ in The Island Challenge Cup. This battle of the ‘B’ crews showed how each programme has fielded incredible depth at the Regatta this year, with Brookes maintaining less than a length lead throughout the race. Although Pennsylvania attacked through the Enclosures, the win was ultimately taken by the Brookes crew, by just ½ a length.

Skilful Wycliffe Rowing Club ‘A’ making the most of the flat water with a square blades drill down the course © HRR Photo

K.A.R.Z.V. De Hoop, NED knock out the north-east, defeating Tyne A.R.C. in both the Wyfold (Men's Club Fours) and Thames Challenge Cup (Men's Club Eights, pictured) © HRR Photo

The Evening Session

Northeastern University celebrating victory in The Island Challenge Cup © Ben Rodford

D.C.R. Hannover, GER secured a comfortable win against The Tideway Scullers’ School in Thursday's last race in The Thames Challenge Cup ©HRR Photo

conditions: Sunny with patchy clouds and a lighter tailwind

Thames Fantastic Four

If weight of numbers is a guide, Thames Rowing Club, the Wargrave (Club Women’s eight) champions, are the club to beat again this year. Watching their women’s ‘D’ boat, yes that is a ‘D’, comfortably beat Upper Thames R.C. ‘B’ in Race 63 at the beginning of the evening session was astonishing, especially for Course club Upper Thames, for whom it was a double Thames blow. In Race 41 before tea, they had also seen the Thames’s ‘B’ boat look effortless in knocking out their ‘A’ boat. Thames ‘C’ were equally solid in winning the final race (60) against Mortlake Anglian & Alpha B.C. before the tea interval. Thames ‘A’ completed the quartet in suitably emphatic fashion near the end of the evening by beating Molesey Boat Club. 

The vagaries of the Draw means all four have ended up in the bottom half, so it is Thames ‘A’ v ‘D’ and ‘B’ v ‘C’ in the quarter-finals. 

Hannoverian Success

D.R.C. Hannover, Germany, the combined German-Ukraine eight, looked strong and controlled as they led from start to finish and knocked out Lea Rowing Club in the Thames Challlenge Cup (Club Men’s Eight). 

Northeastern power

Not more Newcastle-Durham action this time but Northeastern University, USA, whose women won both of the first two races of the evening session in the Island and the Town. 

Penn pushing

The American boats have not had it all their own way in this Regatta, especially in the Island, but it is a title they are not going to relinquish easily and University of Pennsylvania ‘A’ looked formidable as they beat Nottingham University. Penn got to the Barrier in 2:00, just two seconds slower than the new record set by Brookes in the morning, and with a lighter tailwind (albeit flatter river state).

Closest races of the afternoon: 

It was an evening of controlled domination in most of the races, but two stood out. 

Race 66 - The Princess Royal (Women’s Single Sculls) got going today with some very close races. In another classic, Georgie Robinson Ranger beat Germany’s Marie-Sophie Zeidler, who is still trying to qualify for the Paris Olympics after ill health. She is the younger sister of Oliver Zeidler, the men’s single sculls world champion and Henley 2022 champion who was looking on before his first race tomorrow. 

Robinson Ranger, who was a finalist in the Henley Women’s Regatta almost a fortnight ago, learnt to row at Upper Thames and then moved to Henley Rowing Club (and is now at University of London) so knows the water well and had plenty of local support. It may have helped as Zeidler, after biding her time at a length down until Remenham, attacked again and again, closing the gap to a foot past the Mile. Robinson Ranger responded calmly and pulled away in the last 12 strokes to win by a length. 

Race 81 - Leander Club ‘B’ charged back to knockout Reading University in the Princess Grace (Women's Quad Sculls) after a hard fought race all down the Course. Reading were two feet up at the Barrier and although Leander ‘B’  came through by Fawley they never got clear as Reading chased them to the line.