Six weeks later than normal Henley Royal Regatta, welcomed back competing crews and spectators to the opening day today (Wednesday). With the sun making intermittent appearances throughout the day and with a slight headwind, it was deemed to be the perfect day for racing. The crowds on the towpath for the first day seemed larger than normal with plenty of boats on the river too.
The first race of the 2021 Regatta was Tyne ARC against Molesey BC ‘B’ in the Thames Cup (Men’s Eight) with Molesley BC beating Tyne ARC by 3/4 length.
The local crews kicked off their competition with Upper Thames RC having a mixed first day. They were being beaten in the Wyfold (Men’s 4) by Nottingham RC in the last stretch by 1/3 length after starting off strongly. The red umpire’s flag was waved but the result was kept. In the Thames Cup (Men’s Club Eight) The ‘A’ crew were beaten by London RC ‘A’ by 2/1/2 lengths however the ‘B’ crew won their first round race beating Northwich RC by 2/3 length. Shiplake College had a good first day winning both the Junior M8 against a strong Radley College in the Princess Elizabeth Cup by 3/4 length and the Student M8 in the Temple Cup beating Shrewsbury School easily by 3 1/2 lengths
The first of three new women’s events started today, the Junior Women’s Eights with Enniskillen and Shrewsbury the first crews to kick off the heats. Henley Rowing Club won their first heat against Putney High School quite easily by 1 3/4 lengths. Henley RC also had a good first race in the Thames Cup (Club M8+) beating Tortoise Club easily!
For Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management for the Regatta, it was another reminder of what having the event back means to people. “The first day of the Regatta is always special, but 2021 is particularly so after the cancellation last year and stories like Tyne’s keep motivating everyone,” he said.
“Everyone who comes to the Regatta is on a different part of their own curve of learning. Jack Beaumont, a silver medallist in Tokyo, was here today and will be racing on Sunday. He honed his skills as a junior at the Regatta and imagine how inspirational that was for the boys from his school, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School (Marlow) racing in front of him this afternoon.”
Beaumont, the 27-year-old local hero, won silver in the men’s quadruple sculls in Tokyo, and will be racing with two of that crew, Harry Leask, Tom Barras and a teammate from Leander in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Quad) on Sunday.
“It’s been so exciting to come back here,” Beaumont and. “It’s something I dreamed about when I was learning to row in Maidenhead. I think I’ve been back to Henley 12 times now. I’ll be particularly keeping an eye out for how my school is doing.