Thousands of Rowers Don’t Make The Final Cut at Qualifiers

On Friday there was so much at stake for so many at the Qualifying Races for Henley Royal Regatta with 2,323 athletes in 440 crews rowing with only 772 in 130 crews going through to join those pre-qualified for Regatta week.

“Some go home happier than others, but for many Qualifying Race day at Henley is the biggest race of their lives,” Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management said. “Some of our athletes tell us that this is their final, which gives an idea of the stakes.

“We’ve had a record number of domestic Entries this year and with the women’s Entry doubling since 2019 we can see the increased standard and pressure in those events, particularly the Prince Philip (Junior Women’s Eights), the Island (Student Women’s Eights) and the Wargrave (Club Women’s Eights) in 2021.”

At least one family thrived on that pressure, as the Cassidy sisters both qualified in their respective boats in the afternoon; elder sister, Isabella, in The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup (Women’s Pairs) and Olivia in The Wargrave Challenge Cup (Club Women’s Eights). They have a strong rowing heritage as the daughters of Adrian (former Great Britain rower) and Siobhan Cassidy (Stroke for Cambridge in the 1995 Boat Race).

Unlike the head-to-head contests on the 2,112-metre Course in Regatta week, Qualifying is all about A-to-B speed, with crews racing in a time-trial format (with 45 seconds between eights and 30 seconds between the smaller boats).

Photo credit: James Finlay


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