Henley Regatta Finals: Leander Win Hat-trick of Trophies

With the rain with thunderstorms impending, racing was moved to an earlier start at 9:30 am on finals day. The rain was intermittent throughout the day but luckily, it cleared up for prize giving and the winning crews remained dry.

Leander had 6 boats racing in the finals and 4 crews came out on top. The final of The Double Sculls Challenge Cup between Leander and the USA created some excitement in this morning’s racing. Starting sharp, Gare and Dafydd led the Americans from the end of the island. Despite an aggressive attack from Cunningham and Fuller at the Mile to narrow the gap, Leander responded and continued to move away. After the race, bow man Jamie Gare said “I feel so happy about winning, we sort of just got up on them and stayed up on them.” And that’s exactly what they did as they came away from this contest as victors by two lengths.

An epic encounter, this race kept spectators on the edge of their seats in The Town Challenge Cup (W4-). A fast start gave Leander a third of a length advantage into the Quarter Mile and within the next one hundred and fifty metres, they had extended this to three quarters of a length. Thinking they were secure, Leander held Canada until the Three Quarter Mile, but at Remenham the Canadians began to hunt down Leander’s lead. Drawing level at the Mile and One Eighth, audiences in the enclosure were treated to a show. Upping their rate beyond forty, Canada dug deep and sprinted to the line, winning The Town Challenge Cup on most of the crew’s Henley debut.

In race 13 of the day for The Visitors’ Challenge Cup (Club M4), firing off the blocks, this race started out tight with only two feet separating the two crews at the Quarter Mile. From here, Leander drew ahead, bolstered by the Blue Star bow seat, Bruce Turnell’s ‘beautiful steering’. Meanwhile, Oxford Brookes fought hard but received repeated warnings for their steering and couldn’t catch the boys in pink. In the end, Leander Club claimed victory in The Visitors’ Challenge Cup by one length.

A tidy start allowed the German quad to lead until the Barrier, Leander trailing ¼ length behind. Approaching Fawley, Leander made a sustained push, which inched them up to 1 ¾ lengths in front of the Germans by the Mile. In a desperate bid to reclaim their advantage, the Braunschweig & Magdeburg crew dashed towards the line and recovered the best part of a length, but unfortunately they came up short, and Leander triumphed in The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (M4x) to secure their third win of the day. Tobias Schroder said “It was tough but we expected it to be tough, we knew they would have a really good start but we trusted that we would be able to win it in the middle and luckily we were able to do that.”

It was a match between St. Paul’s School and Shiplake College in the Final of The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (JM8+). St. Paul’s led early off the start and maintained the ⅓ length lead at the Quarter Mile to ¾ of a length at the barrier. Shiplake reduced the lead slightly at Remenham with a later burst of pace, but St. Paul’s never looked like relinquishing their lead and held off the sprint to win their third PE title in four years by ¾ of a length at the finish.

With two very evenly matched crews, this Final of The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (Club M4x) treated spectators to an enthralling spectacle. Leander took a small lead off the start, but by the Barrier, Skoll closed the gap, and the crews drew level. Stroke for stroke, the two quads matched each other in length and power, holding each other until Fawley. Neither crew managed to pull ahead until the Three Quarter Mile when Leander made a decisive move and progressively pulled away from the Dutch. Into the enclosures, the Dutch steering proved an obstacle too big in the fight to cross the line first, and Leander declared victory for the fourth consecutive year.

In a straight Final in The Stewards’ Challenge Cup (M4-), there was no race data available for these crews to pick a clear favourite from. It looked as if Leander were going to continue the advantage that they had held for the first two kilometres into the enclosures, but Brookes were determined to take this lead from Leander’s grasp. Appearing as though they had teased their opposition into thinking they would win, Brookes flipped a switch through the Stewards’ Enclosure, quickly claiming dominance and snatching the victory from their competition. Defeated, Leander conceded to the crew, who had also won The Grand Challenge Cup earlier in the day.

Before the trophies were presented to the winning crews,  Chair of the Committee of Management for Henley Royal Regatta said “A special welcome to our overseas competitors and guests. This year, breaking the 200 barrier of 218 crews and records from the USA, Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany. The quest to try and get one of these red boxes for next year starts tomorrow. But this year, that dream started a year ago. At the time they got to qualifiers, ten days ago, there was 4,340 athletes trying to bring that dream alive. Here on finals day, that was down to 274, trying to keep that dream going. And now today, we’re presenting those trophies to 137, that have achieved that. The regatta this year obviously has had some challenges, mainly from the weather.  Right the way from August through to spring, it’s rained and rained and rained. In April this site was flooded. Even now, the sky’s open, we get rain. Rain, wind, mud and sunshine. But our members still turn out, huddled together in the rain in the bars and restaurants and enjoying the racing. Without our members, we could not put on this show. Thank you to you all.”

Prince Albert II of Monaco was prize giver who was visiting for the third time.  The last time was in 2004 where he was our prize giver presenting a new trophy in his mother’s name, Princess Grace.  The first time was in 1981 when he visited with his mother when she was the prize giver. He has been member of the IOC since 1985 and Chairs the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Programme. Prince Albert has competed in five Winter Games. Calgary, Albertville, Lillehammer, Nantigo and Salt Lake City in bobsleigh, competing for Monaco. He comes from a great rowing Olympic pedigree. His grandfather Jack Kelly won three Olympic gold medals, one in the single, two in the doubles, in Antwerp in 1920 and in Paris in 1924.

Prince Albert said, “Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear competitors, it’s an incredible pleasure for me to be back here and having this beautiful event. We’ve had some wonderful, now beautiful weather, and we’ve had some liquid sunshine also, which is absolutely marvellous. I’m extremely happy and proud to be here with some of my family members. It’s been a very special day and I’m extremely proud to be able to present these trophies, especially the Princess Grace Challenge Cup in memory of my mother. Henley holds the most special place in our family’s history.  It will always be a pleasure to be here.  I hope that someday rowers from Monaco might win a trophy here.”


Photo 4 Credit: Benedict Tufnell


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