Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) came to a close on Sunday with a series of tense and exciting finals.
Leander, Shiplake College and Henley Rowing Club all won trophies with Upper Thames missing out in the final of the Aspiration Club Fours.
Leander rowers won three trophies. Vwaire Obukohwo from Leander Club with K George from Twickenham RC won the Championship Doubles by 1 length against a composite Strathclyde Park/Twickenham RC crew. In the Championship Quadruple Sculls Leander beat Molesley BC by 1 3/4 lengths and in the Championship Fours they beat Durham University. Abigail Topp from Leander with Phoebe Snowden from University of London lost the Championship Pairs losing to Imperial College/University of London crew by 3 1/4 length in the final. Susie Dear of the Leander quad said afterwards: “It was a really good regatta, the first time
I’d raced at Henley Women’s since 2019 so it was good to be back. “That headwind caught us out a little bit, the classic Henley headwind, but it’s a different kind
of racing altogether with the one-on-one. Really good fun.”
Shiplake College’s Jess Weir who won in the Junior Quadruple Sculls in 2022 won the J18 single sculls beating E Etherington from Wycliffe Junior easily by 3 1/3 lengths with her coach Mr Safdari winning getting a third win in three years.
The Henley Junior U16 crew of Jess Mack, Freya Smith, Nicolette Pagdin and Lilya Wild won the Nina Padwick Cup for J16 4x beating Putney by 1 length. Henley missed out on winning another trophy in the J18 eights by a length in the final against Headington School.
In the Aspirational Club Fours, Upper Thames were beaten by Worcester RC in the final by 1 1/4 lengths.
The prizes were handed out by New Zealand Olympic champion Grace Prendergast, who said: “We don’t have regattas quite like this [in New Zealand]. It is for the rowers but it’s also for the spectators. I think people on the bank have just as much fun: the families, the coaches, the people that know essentially nothing about rowing will come along and support as well, and as an athlete, I think you want the people watching you to be having just as much fun as you are having out there. I think that’s what makes these regattas truly special, and coming from someone who didn’t have these growing up, I hope you’ll realise how amazing it is even competing. If you won or if you haven’t, just being here and embracing the atmosphere is incredible.”
“I do want to reiterate to you all that you are in that fun stage. You don’t always have to think about what is next. Some of my best teams I have ever been with, I didn’t really embrace it and enjoy it while I was doing it because I was already thinking about the next stage. So enjoy it, because before you know it you’ll be standing here like me, retired, or that chapter has shut, and wishing you were back at that stage and having those moments again because it is truly special. The friends you make, the community you build, is like no other sport I can think of.”
Chair Naomi Riches added, “”The last three days have been so inspiring, not just for those new to rowing but also to those who have been rowing for years, decades. Watching the talent coming through in our sport is just incredible. Off the water, the atmosphere has been friendly, supportive – the camaraderie has been amazing – and on the water, intensely competitive at every moment. It’s a unique regatta. I heard it said that it’s one of the few regattas were the spectator is closer to the spoon than the rower! We had a record number of entries this year, a record number of crews entering this regatta from the UK and around the world.”
On Sunday morning, volunteer Liz McVeigh was presented with a special oar award for her dedication and commitment for ‘Friends of HWR’ who will be stepping down after 10 years of service.
Oxford Brookes University took the final win of the day, beating Thames Rowing Club by two lengths in the Ron Needs Cup for championship eights. Brookes added the Colgan Foundation Cup for aspirational academic eights with victory against Newcastle University.
Although Thames lost the Ron Needs Cup, they did defend the Copas Cup for aspirational club eights in a repeat of the 2022 final against their Putney neighbours Vesta Rowing Club.
Cornwall’s Greenbank Falmouth Rowing Club won their first-ever HWR title, as Sarah Lewis and Issey Barnes defeated Dutch crew DSRV Laga in the Rosie Mayglothling Trophy for aspirational double sculls.
Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club were also first-time winners, adding the Bea Langridge Trophy for junior quadruple sculls to their National Schools Regatta title.
Overseas winners included Australia’s Sydney Rowing Club, taking the Rayner Cup for junior double sculls and Cara Grzeskowiak of Canberra Rowing Club, who won the George Innes trophy for championship single sculls; Radcliffe College of the USA, winning the Parkside Trophy for championship lightweight pairs with a win over compatriots Princeton; USR Triton of the Netherlands, taking the Chairman’s Trophy for aspirational quadruple sculls.