Big Open Categories See Fierce Friday Competitive Racing at Henley Regatta

The Friday of Henley Royal Regatta saw the open categories begin in earnest as the sun began to finally impose itself upon the event. The Grand, Stewards’, Queen Mother, Remenham and Princess Royal Challenge Cups all started on Friday, whilst the club, student and junior events rolled on into the quarter finals. Holland, Italy and Spain’s men’s eights all saw action whilst selected crews were introduced into the fold in the double and pair events. Meanwhile, a two-minute silence was beautifully observed across the regatta in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Upper Thames RC beat Thames RC to get into the semi-finals of the Wyfold Cup by ⅔ length and meet Sport Imperial BC. Leander had a good day with both crews in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup getting through to the semi-finals.  Leander ‘A’ beat Tees RC easily in the Prince of Wales Cup and their crew in the Women’s Open Quadruple Scull beat Boulogne Billancourt & Encouragement by 1 length.  In the Junior M4X for the Fawley Cup Leander beat Frankfurter RG from Germany by 2¾ length. Henley RC crews went out on Friday with the Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls A crew losing to Gloucester RC by 1⅓ lengths and the in form Men’s Four losing to Grasshopper-Club from Switzerland.

Shiplake College Junior M8s lost to the in form strong crew of Westminster School by 1¼ lengths but the Junior Quadruple Sculls from Shiplake Vikings RC beat the Isle of Ely RC by 2 lengths and will meet Gloucester RC in the semi-finals.

The Grand is underway. Hollandia Roeiclub turned on the style to see off the close attentions of a Canadian U23 crew, whose journey to Tokyo 2020 begins at Henley Royal Regatta. The Italian national eight, racing as Team Italia, came from behind to beat Crefelder & Dorsten. Nautilus Rowing Club, comprising several top-end British student athletes, beat the Spanish senior eight in the first race after the tea-break. The Grand Challenge Cup received seven entries from seven countries this year; New York A.C. & California Rowing Club, USA were given a bye to Saturday’s racing.

There was late drama in the Visitors Challenge Cup. Adelaide Rowing Club of Australia were disqualified in the penultimate race of the day, having just crossed the line ahead of a composite crew from Oxford Brookes University & Proteus of the Netherlands. The Australians finished 4 feet up on the composite crew, with former British Olympian Alex Partridge on board, but were disqualified for refusing to return to their station despite warning from the umpire. Brookes & Proteus will now face the University of California, Berkeley in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Saturday’s racing promises to be some of the tightest and most competitive in recent history, with a number of phenomenal clashes lined up. Harvard and California, Berkeley face each other in a blockbuster Temple Challenge Cup contest whilst the prospective British U23 women’s eight faces Ivy League Championship winners Princeton University. Domestic interest has been slimmed in the Thames Challenge Cup, with Molesey Boat Club the sole surviving British crew; they face Roeivereeniging Willem III of Holland. The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup pits championship girl’s quad winners Warrington against the dominant force in junior women’s eights, Headington. The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, which often draws the most ardent crowds along the 2112m stretch, will see strong foreign interest from a powerful Melbourne Grammar School outfit face up against holders St Paul’s School. The top two from the National Schools’ Regatta, Westminster School and Eton College, meet in the other semi-final.

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