Henley Royal Regatta – Preview

HRR
You can keep your Boat Race, World Cups and your World Championships, the most important rowing event of the year starts this week….it’s Henley time!
I could wax lyrical about the regatta for hours, but that’s not this blog is about…maybe I will write that blog at some point, but now’s not the time. What this blog is about is my look at the entries at the regatta and to give a form guide and even see whether I can predict a winner (although given that Rowing Voice are running Mystic Henley again this year – with the prize of a stay at the Hotel Du Vin – I’m not sure I should reveal my predictions 😉 )

The Grand Challenge Cup
3 entries.
The top Great Britain mens 8 (racing as Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club) will start as favourites. They won at the first World Cup in Sydney and again at the second in Eton Dorney last week. Since then they have tweaked their line-up with Oli Cook and James Foad being replaced by Olympic champion Alex Gregory (now recovered from illness) and Olympic bronze medalist Will Satch (fully recovered from injury). The have also tweaked the seating order with Pete Reed moving from 7 to the 3 seat. Perhaps Jurgen Grobler was listening to James Cracknell’s commentary on the FISA coverage whaen he said he would prefer to see Hodge and Reed split up from the stern pair!) This is the first time the no.1 line up will have raced in public. On paper they make a truly formidible line-up, the question is, whether they can row “well” and match their performance on the water with that on paper.
The main challenge will come from Poland (Wojskowy Klub Sportowy Zawisza and Regionalne Towarzystwo WioÅ›larskie Lotto – I hope I don’t have to pronounce that during any of my commentary stints!)
The Poles ran the GB boat very close at Eton Dorney – indeed they led the British for 1750m. They have had a very settled line-up for the past few seasons, the crew racing at Henley is the same that came 7th at the Olympics. They raced the new-look German 8 at the European Championships and finished 2nd by just over a second. Personally I think they are a quicker boat now than they were at the Olympics and will be real medal contenders at the Worlds in Korea in August.
The final entry in this event are the University of Washington. It’s a bold move from chief coach Michael Callahan, who said “we want to know how fast we can go”. The Washington Huskies have been undefeated in the USA this season winning the IRA Championships. They are led by Canadian Olympic silver medallist, Conlin McCabe (who, at 17st 9lb is the heaviest oarsman at this year’s regatta). The crew also includes current U23 World Champions Alex Bunkers and Ryan Schroeder. There is British interest in this boat with Marcus Bowyer. As formidable as Washington are they are up against 2 world class crews. The Huskies face the Poles with the winner taking on the British. I can see the Huskies giving the Poles a good race, but ultimately I think it’ll be the two national squad crews contesting the final on Sunday.
My pick for the win….GB
GBM8

Queen Mother Challenge Cup
The only straight final in the regatta. A battle between the British (racing as Leander Club & Agecroft) and the Kiwis (racing as Wiariki Rowing Club). Both these crews raced at the Eton Dorney World Cup. There were high hopes for the British to claim a medal after their gold medal performance in Sydney. But their 5th place finish was a little disappointing. But, for the Kiwis Dorney was even more disappointing as they could only finish 3rd in the “B” final (9th overall). Both crew will be looking for stronger performances at Henley but I can’t see the Kiwis taking down the Brits.

update on Tuesday: Graeme Thomas is out injured, and is replaced by Jonny Walton who scratches from the Diamonds. I do not think this will change the result.

The Stewards Challenge Cup
4 entries. This is a Heavyweights v Lightweights battle. The “big” boys from GB and NZ against the lighties of South Africa and New Zealand. Both Kiwi crews have been selected to avoid meeting until the final.
The British (Oxford Brookes & ULBC) are led by the charismatic Nathanial Reilly O’Donnell (Noddy) and picked up a silver medal at the Dorney World Cup getting within half a length of the Aussies no.1 boat.
The British face the Kiwi heavyweights in the semi-final. The crew of Jade Uru, Tobias Wehr-Candler, Adam Tripp & Robert Kells also raced at Dorney finishing 5 seconds behind the British in 4th.
The two lightweight boats have a pretty impressive pedigree, the Wiariki crew had a titanic battle against the Danes at Eton Dorney in the final of LM4- winning by 4/100ths of a second. But, the crew I’m really excited to see are the South African Olympic Champions (racing as Tuks Rowing Club). There is one change in the line-up to the crew that won the Olympics; Matthew Brittain is replaced in the 2 seat by the 20 year old Michael Voerman. It’ll be fascinating to see whether the South Africans have maintained the sort of speed that won them gold.
I think it’s going to be a GB v Kiwi final with the heavies from GB coming out on top.

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup
12 entries. 4 crews have been selected including the U23’s Angus Groom and Barney Stentiford. But, the favourites are the Kiwis, Michael Arms and Robbie Mason – convincing winners at both World Cups this season. They have picked up the mantel from Olympic champions Sullivan & Cohen. The main challenge to the Kiwis will come from the British, Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas – both Olympians. They picked up a bronze medal at Dorney and will be looking to put together a strong performance on home water. Another exciting British entry are the Chambers brothers. They were just pipped for gold in the LM2X at Eton Dorney, running out of steam in the final 100m. The draw should see the two GB national squad crews meeting in the semi-final on Saturday which should be a really interesting battle. But ultimately I think the Kiwis are just too strong and I pick them for the win.
New Zealand's men's double sculls

The silver goblets and Nickalls Challenge Cup
12 entries. This all about who gets the right to get beaten by the Kiwis in the final! Eric Murray & Hamish Bond are, possibly, the finest coxless pair in history. Certainly they are the fastest taking 6 seconds off the World Best Time at the Olympics. At the Eton Dorney World Cup they won by a country mile and set a new World Cup record into the bargain. First up against the Kiwis are the GB U23 lightweight pair of Wilf Kimberley and Matt Bedford. The GB boys are no slouches picking up a silver medal at Eton Dorney. The South African’s have two pairs entered, David Hunt & Vincent Breet (U23 world silver medallists) and Shaun Keeling & Lawrence Brittain (4th at the final Olympic Qualifying regatta). The final selected crew are the German internationals Martin Veit & Marcus Dehoust.
So obviously the Kiwis will win with the draw suggesting it’ll be either the South African U23’s or the Germans in the final. The big question will be whether Murray & Bond decide to have a crack at the course record (currently held jointly by Sirs Pinsent & Redgrave and Hodge & Reed).
KiwiM2-

The Diamond Challenge Sculls
14 entries. Possibly the best field for the Diamonds this century. Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale took a break from rowing after the Games and competed in a number of Ironman Triathlons, but he began his campaign for Rio by racing at the Holland Beker in Amsterdam last weekend, and rather surprisingly was beaten into 3rd place by Dutchman Roel Braas (the first Dutchman to win the Beker since 1995) and Hannes Obrenno of Belgium. His main rival will be GB’s Alan Campbell. 3rd at the Olympics and 2nd at the Eton Dorney World Cup. Campbell loves racing at Henley and knows how to win here, and also knows how to beat Drysdale here. Both men have won this event 3 times. It’ll be very interesting to see what sort of speed the Olympic Champion has…he may well be vulnerable having not raced internationally for almost a year.
But, it’s not just about Campbell v Drysdale (although the draw would put them both in the final). Drysdale, arguably has the tougher draw with every race being against an international class sculler. In his half of the draw are Azerbaijan’s Aleksander Aleksandrov (who was 5th in the Olympic final), former world LM1X champion from New Zealand, Duncan Grant, Olympic M2X Bronze Medallist, Luka Spik, team mate (and M2X Olympic champion) Joseph Sullivan, French Olympian, Julien Bahain and finally Belgium’s Bram Dubois. That is one hell of a tough line-up. By contrast Campbell has a slightly easier draw. The main challenge to Campbell will come from Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria. The 24 year old finished one place behind Campbell at Eton Dorney. In this section of the draw also look out for a potential re-match between GB’s Johnny Walton and John Graves of the USA. Both these scullers were in the B final at Eton Dorney with Walton beating Graves by 5 seconds.
So who will win….the question is how is Mahe Drysdale? I think Campbell will have the race pace to beat the Kiwi (if Mahe gets to the final)
Campbell

That’s it for the men’s open events now for the ladies open events:

Remenham Challenge Cup
8 entries. The overwhelming favourites for this will be the GB W8 (racing as Leander Club & Oxford Brookes). They will be itching to get some racing under their belts having not been able to race at the Eton Dorney World Cup because of the apathy of the rest of the world 😉
But, behind the GB women’s boat there are some interesting entries with some intriguing composites. The Oxford University/Reading University crew as a certain pocket rocket at 2….Olympic Champion, Sophie Hosking. She is joined by 5 of Oxford’s winning Boat Race crew. Another interesting composite are Tees & Agecroft (although they are actually a 7 club composite). This is the GB U23 crew, they won Elite 8’s at Henley Women’s Regatta and have some seriously talented women on-board. The other entries are all high quality club boats, but they may struggle against the national squad boats. Vesta were winners of IM1 at The Met and have a couple of talented Kiwis on-board (including NZ national champion Hana McEwan). Thames raced in Senior 8’s at the Met coming 2nd to the U23 composite.
My pick…I can’t see anyone beating the senior GB 8.

Princess Grace
8 entries. This is all about the “serious” GB W4X and the “fun” GB W4X! The “serious” boat are the official GB women’s quad (Leander Club & Tees – Caragh McMurty, Monica Relph, Ros Bradbury & Kristina Stiller). They raced at Dorney finishing 5th (but behind a scratch GB W4X from the W8 and ahead of a Chinese boat made up of 15 & 16 year olds 😉 ). The “fun” GB crew contain the top 4 women in the GB squad at the moment..Helen Glover, Polly Swann, Fran Houghton & Vicky Meyer-Laker). The main challenge will be two-fold. The Americans of California Rowing Club are all US trialists, Grace Latz and Anne Holmes raced at the National Selection Regatta finishing 4th & 5th in their semi-final. The other challenge will come from the top GB University crew from Imperial. IC won at the BUCS regatta and also at The Met Regatta.
My pick….I think the “fun” GB quad will take it.
PG4X

Princess Royal
8 entries. A real high quality field with Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova leading the way. She is likely to meet the Leander captain, and double Olympic silver medallist, Debbie Flood. Debbie has officially retired from international competition but she has been racing at the top level domestically this season winning the elite 1X at Henley Women’s Regatta. She will probably find Knapkova too strong to make the final. In the bottom half of the draw it’s going to be a great battle between New Zealand’s Emma Twigg and GB’s Vicky Thornley. These two met at the Dorney World Cup with the Kiwi winning and the Brit coming 4th…in a match-race situation these two could be very evenly matched. Another interesting entry is Ursula Grobler of Tuks Rowing Club South Africa. Grobler has had a nomadic international career racing for Spain, USA and now South Africa. It’s difficult to see this being anything but a Knapkova v Twigg final but I’d love Thornley to make it to Sunday. That would be a great boost her career as a single sculler and great for the confidence heading into Lucerne.
Knapkova for the win.
Knapkova

Now for the intermediate events:

The Ladies Challenge Plate.
8 entries. The pick of the entries for me are Leander Club & Molesey. This crew raced as GB2 at the Eton Dorney World Cup where they finished 4th, just behind the French and ahead of the Czechs. There was some debate as to whether this crew should’ve been bumped up to the Grand, but whether they are defined as a “Heavyweight FISA Senior National Crew” is debatable. But the Stewards are happy with them racing in the Ladies Plate so they will start as overwhelming favourites. There are 3 USA crews in this event and all 3 have been selected. Northeastern University have their Varsity and 2nd Varsity 8’s racing and the draw would pit them against eachother in the semi-finals. The Varsity crew finished 4th at the IRA Championships with the 2V boat finishing 6th in their division at IRA’s. The pick of the US crews are the University of Washington. This is the Huskies 2nd Varsity boat. They are undefeated this year and actually would qualify to race in the Temple, but as with their Varsity 8 in the Grand they wanted to “race-up” to test their speed. I think they will find the speed of the GB development boat much too hot to handle, that’s if they get past the Spanish of Sevilla & Malaga in the 1st round. The Spanish have a couple of junior and senior internationals on board and will certainly be no push-overs for the Huskies. Facing the GB boat in the 1st round are the Army who have Olympic silver medallist Capt. Alistair Heathcote at bow. The Turks (Galatasaray) are an interesting crew, predominantly lightweights they have 6 senior internationals on board.They could give the Northeastern Varsity a bit of a shock.
My pick GB2 aka Leander Club & Molesey

The Visitors Challenge Cup
16 crews. This has the makings of a Cambridge v Harvard battle. Harvard will be racing in memory of legendary coach Harry Parker who passed away last week.
Harry PArker
They have sent two boats. The “A” crew are half of the heavyweight varsity 8…but they reflect the international nature of Harvard’s Varsity set up. The crew has no home-grown oarsmen. There are 2 Australians (Josh Hicks & Charles Risbey) a Kiwi (James O’Connor) and a Brit (Andrew Holmes). The Harvard varsity 8 were 2nd to the Washington Huskies at the IRA’s. The Harvard “B” crew are the bow 4 from the undefeated lightweight Varsity 8 and contain 3 Americans and 1 Canadian.
In the top half of the draw the Harvard lightweights are likely to face a crew from Cambridge University. Like the Harvard “A” crew, the Cambridge boat contains no home-grown oarsman. Cambridge have 3 of the 2013 Blue Boat (Czech Olympian Milan Bruncvik,and Americans Niles Garrat & Ty Otto) the final member is American Jake Lindeman from this year’s Goldie boat.
The Harvard heavies are likely to face the top club crew in the event, Molesey. The crew of Blake Friedman, Fred Gill, Andrew Webb & Ed Ford won Elite 4- at Marlow. A potential semi match-up between them and Harvard is an inticing prospect.
Outside of the slected crews it’s excellent to see the schoolboys of Pangbourne College qualify for this event. They are the stern 4 of the 1st VIII racing in the Princess Elizabeth. As a 4 they were 2nd at the NAtional Schools and won IM1 at Marlow. Unluckily for the schoolboys the draw has given them Molesey in the first round.
A crew that will present more of a challenge (and one I’m surprised weren’t selected) are the composite of the University of London and Nereus. This includes Etan Hazine and James Cook U23’s who raced as GB2 at the Eton Dorney World Cup finishing an excellent 5th.
So who will win….the top half of the draw looks relatively straightforward for Cambridge to reach the final, but the lower half of the draw is very tough…Harvard A, Molesey and UL all have the ability to make the final and take the title. If I had to pick one crew….I’m going for Harvard heavyweights.
Harvard

The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup
14 entries. The selected crews are Leander, California USA, Agecroft & Cardiff composite and Aalesunds & Moss of Norway.
Leander will start as fovourites. So far this season they are undefeated, winning at Ghent, The Met and Marlow. The crew includes 2011 LM2- world champion, Kieren Emery. Also in the crew are U23’s Jack Beaumont and Stewart Innes with the final seat taken by South African James Johnstone.
The main challenge to Leander in their half of the draw will come from the Americans of California Rowing Club. The crew of Brown, Madura, Kush & Holak raced at the US M4X trials and won selection as the U23 quad.
In the top half of the draw Agecroft & Cardiff University includes GB U23’s Oliver Lee and Josh Bugajski. The Norwegian’s appear to be the U23 quad. The crew contains 4 junior internationls from last year (martin Helseth, Ole Bang-Andreasen, Erik Solbakken & Halvor West). The London RC/Tideway Scullers composite includes the Dunley brothers and Juan Garcia-Reyes (winner of Elite 1X at Marlow).

Outside of the selected boats the Irish of Commercial Boat club has the internationals Albert and Michael Maher.
Exeter University contain 3 of the crew that won lightweight quads at BUCS Head and includes GB trialist James Ellison.
My pick….Leander.
Leander4X

Moving onto the Club events:

Britannia Challenge Cup.
16 crews. This looks to be a fiercly competitive event with no clear favourite. Molesey were 2nd in Elite 4+’s at Marlow (losing to Imperial College’s Prince Albert crew). One place behind Molesey were Thames. Thames have a number of 2nd places this season, on both days of the Metropolitan Regatta and at Ghent. Taurus (Oxford Brookes alumni) were winners at the Saturday of Ghent but were 3rd on both days of the Met.
There are two USA selected crews, Merrimac and Union. Merrimac raced at Reading Town Regatta last weekend and won comfortably, but I don’t think either of the US entries will get to the weekend’s racing.
Oustide of the Selected crews there are some interesting entries. Belfast Boat Club contain 3 Irish U23 internationals (and the 4th will be racing at the Coupe De La Jeunesse). The Germans of Bayer Leverkusen contain 2 former Junior World Champions (Fabian Weiler and Felix Krane). They will be racing Tideway Scullers in the first round. Scullers have been tweaking their line-up and have moved a couple of guys out of the 8 to create a fast 4+ and the race against the Germans may well be the race of the day.
My pick….it’s going to be very tight…but my pick is Molesey.
Molesey

The Wyfold Challenge Cup.
32 entries. The Westminster Alumni of Elizabethan were made to race qualifiers last Friday, but they obviously posted a pretty impressive time as the Stewards have selected them. The crew contains World Junior silver medallist, Fred Vystavel and U23 international Josh Butler. This season they were winners of IM1 at Marlow. But, the favourites are probably London. This crew includes former junior international, Felix Wood and were 2nd behind Molesey’s Visitors 4 at Marlow. 1 place behind London at Marlow were Rob Roy but only 0.5 sec seperated the two boats.
Nottingham were winners of Senior 4’s at Marlow and the draw would suggest they face a semi-final against London.
There’s not too much known of the foreign entries. The selected Norwegians of N.S.R Oslo have a couple of former junior internationals who raced in 2003 (Peder Myhre and Kristian Simensen). Both the Hong Kong Yacht Club and the Union BC of Boston have been selected but may struggle to win more than one or two rounds.
My pick…I think it’ll be a London v Elizabethan final with London coming out on top.

Thames Challenge Cup
32 crews. Lots and lots of chat on Talk Rowing about this…it’s as if some people think this is the biggest event in world rowing! But, I guess for UK mens club rowing it possibly is!
Of the local crews there are 4 boats that stand out. Molesey were 3rd in Elite 8’s at Marlow (behind the University crews of Newcastle and Oxford Brookes), although they have made one change to the line-up from Marlow (Lewis Thorpe replacing Morgan Bolding). Thames have been chasing Molesey all season finishing 2 seconds behind them at Marlow. The 3rd of the domestic crews to highlight are Upper Thames. The club are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year (and have 50 athletes competing at Henley). They finished 2nd to Oxford Brookes at the Met regatta. The 4th of the domestic crews are the Abingdon alumni racing as Griffen Boat Club. They raced at Marlow coming 5th in Elite 8’s. However they have strengthened their line-up since then and contain a crew of recent Henley winners most of whom will be studying in the USA from next year. The crew has 3 junior internationals, (Vassilis Ragoussis, John Carter & Felix Newman). This is a very exciting line-up and has the potential to get to the weekend’s racing at the very least.
Of the foreign entries Green Lake (USA) are a top junior crew, but as a club they are no eligible for the Princess Elizabeth so they are racing in the Thames, I would think they will progress through a couple of rounds. The Northeastern Alumni have a tough first round against Royal Chester (winners of Elite 8’s at Notts City).
So who will win…..Molesey
Molesey

Student events

The Prince Albert Challenge Cup
16 entries. Durham were winners at BUCS and also Elite 4+’s at Marlow but they were beaten by Isis in Senior 4+’s at Marlow. The Isis boat has 3 of the Isis crew from this year’s Boat Race. The draw potentially could pit Isis against Cambridge in the final. The light blues have two of the Goldie crew plus experienced U23’s Alex Leichter from Austria, and Hank Moore of the USA. For a neutral it would be brilliant if this did turn out to be the final. Of the Overseas entries the University of Virginia have been selected but I don’t think they will reach beyond the 2nd round. Their crew (Will Courtney, Dylan Staples, Ed Crocker, Peter Malm coxed by Katie Garrity) are 3 of the 2nd Varsity boat with Staples from the Varsity 4 (made up of athletes 17-20). Virigina have a talented coach in Frank Biller, but will be more of a threat in the Temple than the PA. Another selected US crew are Bowdoin College from Maine. They raced the Varsity 4 are the Aberdeen Dad Vails but missed out on the “A” final by one spot.
Outside of the selected crews, Bath Uni were 4th in Elite 4’s at Marlow and the University of the West of England came 3rd behind Isis and Durham in Senior 4’s at Marlow.
So my pick..it’s going to be close between Durham, IC, Isis & Cambridge…I’m going for the dark blues.

The Temple Challenge Cup.
A huge entry of 62 crews that were reduced to 32. This event is always a curious mix of top freshman from the US, GB universities and the U16’s or 2nd VIII’s from the “big” rowing schools. This often forms invaluable Henley experience before moving up to the 1st VIII’s and racing in the Princess Elizabeth. 3 schools made it through qualifying, Hampton, Eton & St.Pauls. But, all the talk on this event is whether there is a British crew that can take the title. Only one GB crew has won this event in the last 10 years (Oxford Brookes in 2006). The domestic challenge is being spearheaded by two fierce rivals, Newcastle and Oxford Brookes. Newcastle were winners at BUCS and at Marlow, beating perennial rivals Oxford Brookes into 2nd place in both races. For their part Brookes won on both days at Ghent and the Metropolitan. But, there is a very strong overseas challenge this year.
The leading overseas crew are the Harvard Freshman containing 2 Brits (including GB U23 Adam Janes), 2 Aussies a German a Canadian and 2 Americans. They were 5th in the Freshman division at the IRA’s. Another of the selected US crews are Trinity College Hartford, they were 2nd at the New England championships but were beaten comfortably by Grand Valley State at Reading Town Regatta last weekend. Grand Valley performed well at the Dad Vails making the A final but just missing out on the medals.
Columbia have sent their Varsity lightweight boat who finished 3rd at the US National Lightweight Championships (finishing behind Harvard and Yale). Outside of Harvard the Columbia Lions could well be the next strongest US crew. But the overseas challenge is not just from the USA. There are also 2 German, 2 Dutch and a Russian crew to contend with.
The crew from Dresden are from a specialist sports university but their preparation for Henley has been hampered by the severe flooding in central Europe last month. The other German crew Rheinisch Westfälische Technische have one former junior bronze medallist on board (Stefan Nolden).
The Russians of St.Petersburg could pose a real threat in the top half of the draw. The crew contains 6 Russian U23 internationals including 4 from the U23 8 that came 9th last year.
Finally the two Dutch crews from Nereus and Laga, on paper these crew look fairly evenly matched with smattering of U23’s and recent junior internationals in both boats.

So, the big question is can a GB university pull off the win? I think it’ll be tough, Newcastle have the best chance, but they will find the going very tough against Harvard and St.Petersburg. But, I’m going to be bold and pick the Geordies for the win.
Newcastle

And now the schoolboy events….

the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup
32 crews. This event offers the opportunity for history to be made. Abingdon School won this event in 2011 & 2012. This year they have the chance to win a hat-trick of titles, something that has not been done since Bedford School in 1948. Abingdon start as favourites having won convincingly at the National Schools Regatta (breaking their own championship record in the process). They are reknowned for their very fast start which in a match race can be a great advantage. The main domestic challenge to Abingdon will come from Nat School’s runners-up St.Edwards and Head of the River winners Hampton. From the small foreign entry Scotch College from Melbourne look to pose the biggest challenge, they won the Victoria State Championships earlier this year and also won the Scotch Mercantile Regatta. The big question is can they beat the best of British?!
Another strong challenge will come from the Germans; Poelchau Oberschule. They won the junior 8’s at Essen thus earning the right to a sponsored trip to race at Henley and also a weekend’s training with the senior German 8.
My pick….as on old-Abingdonian I would dearly love to see the old school pick up an historic hat trick, and I think coach Dave Currie has put together an outstanding unit that will deliver the goods, Abingdon for the win.
Abingdon cheers

The Fawley Challenge Plate.
Again, this event has generated huge debate on the rowing forums. There is a detailed analysis of the entries on the JuniorRowing blog (http://juniorrowing.wordpress.com/ ) which is worth a read for good background info. I shall limit my preview to the “main players”.
This looks to be a showdown between Marlow, winners of the National Schools, and Leander (winners at the Met). These two should have met at Marlow Regatta but due to the size of entries the organisers created 2 divisions separating the two leading boats. Both crews won their respective divisions. The Henley draw has these two potentially meeting in the semi-final. Tey are both in a very tough half of the draw along with a talented Argentinian quad from Tigre (who ran Marlow very close in Div B at Marlow Regatta) and also Maidenhead (who were 2nd to Leander in Div A).
Defending champions Sir William Borlase may not be able to defend their title but they may well make it to Sunday as the lower half of the draw doesn’t look quite so fierce. Borlase finished 2nd to Marlow in Sen 4X at Marlow, and also 2nd to Imperial College at the Met.
My pick…whoever wins the semi-final between Marlow & Leander should go on to win. I think that’ll be Marlow….or Leander…no Marlow….errr….

And finally, last but definitely not least, is the youngest of the events at the regatta, the Junior Women’s Quads now in it’s 2nd year of competition.
The girls of Gloucester have an opportunity to make history. They could become the first JW4X to win the triple…the National Schools, Henley Women’s Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta. The girls are all from Hartpury Academy which is a unique joint venture with GB rowing to create a “Start” Academy to develop athletes from the age of 16 onwards. This project looks to be delivering in a big way. 2nd to Gloucester were Latymer Upper. The girls of Latymer had previously beaten Hartpury quite comfortably at Wallingford, but they saw this reversed at Nat Schools with Gloucester taking the win by 4 seconds.
Gloucester then won at Henley Women’s Regatta defeating Headington in the final. However Latymer were racing in the Senior 4X division (where they lost in the semi-final to Wallingford). So a re-match between these top two quads is an enticing prospect and the draw has them scheduled to meet in the semi-final.
My pick…you have to go for Gloucester to make some history.
Gloucester

So that’s it. I am really looking forward to watching (and commentating) on some fantastic racing and it even looks like the weather will behave itself!

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