Having previewed the Open events at Henley, it’s time to go down a step and preview the Intermediate events…the Ladies Challenge Plate, the Visitors Challenge Cup and the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup.
I always think that the Intermediate events offer some of the best racing at the Regatta. You always get a curious mix of crews. There’s the ex-international alumni crews – they may say they’re just in it for fun there’s no such thing for International oarsmen, even retired ones. Then there are the young up and coming oarsmen…the Under 23 Internationals or aspiring internationals keen to make an impact, win a red box and impress the coaches. Finally thrown into the mix there are always a few top US or other nationality collegiate crews. It all gets thrown together with the net result being excellent racing.
The Ladies Challenge Plate
8 crews.The Stewards have selected four crews. In the top half of the draw round one sees an All US match up between California Rowing Club & New York Athletic Club v The University of California.
The CRC/NYAC crew are an intriguing line up (at least the one that has so far been declared – the one that lines up on Thursday may be different!) They include no fewer than 7 Olympians – Ivan Smiljanic raced for Yugoslavia in the M4- at Sydney, Dan Walsh won a bronze in the M8 in Beijing, Jamie Koven raced at both Atlanta and Sydney (and also a winner of both The Grand and The Diamonds), Will Miller was in the US M8 that finished 4th at London, Seb Bea won a silver in the M2- in Sydney, Scott Gault was 5th in Beijing and won a bronze in London in the M4- and finally the cox, Pete Cipollone steered both the Sydney and Athens crews (the latter to a gold medal). The final two members of the crew are Warner Bonner who raced in this event with Penn AC in 2011 and Tom Katis and ex-Yale oarsman who has served as a communications expert with the US Special Forces in Afghanistan and is now CEO of Voxer Communications. So you can see from this line up there is some serious talent on board (even if some of them are beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. They may run out of steam in the final 500 but their fearsome racers and know how to move a boat!
They have drawn the selected University of California. The Cal Bears were 3rd at the IRA Championships earlier this month and contain four of the crew that won the Temple as freshman in 2011. Australian Michael Bernerius in the 5 seat was 4th in the U23 M4+ last year. There’s British interest in this boat with the Stern pairing of James Scott from Shrewsbury School and Stephen Tuck formerly of Monmouth School.
The other two crew in the top half of the draw are the Oklahoma City River Sport against Leander Club and Molesey.
The Oklahoma crew is from the US national training centre made up of current and aspiring senior and Under 23 lightweight internationals. Josh Getz at 3 and Peter Gibson at 7 were in the US LM8 that won bronze at the World Championships last year. Andrew Weiland (6 seat) and Dan Kirrane (stroke) were both in the U23 LM4- that came 7th in 2012. Joseph Hanlon raced in the U23 LM4- last year reaching the “A” final. As I undertsand it this is the crew that wil be representing the USA in the LM8 at the World Championships in Amsterdam.
Leander & Molesey are young crew with plenty of Under 23 international (and Henley) experience.Tom Pagel has already on the Princess Elizabeth Cup with Abingdon School in 2012 and the Thames Cup with the Abingdon Alumni Griffen Boat Club in 2013. If he wins the Ladies this year it’ll be quite an achievement to go PE, Thames, Ladies in successive years. James Johnston is also a Henley winner from last year as part of the Leander Prince of Wales Quad. He was also a junior International for South Africa in 2011 and 2012. I wonder if he’s contemplating a similar move to Leander clubmate Pete Lambert, who switched from South Africa and now strokes the GB M4X. Cam Buchan was in the GB U23 8 that finished 5th in 2013. Lewis McCue at stroke also raced in the GB U23 team last year placing 7th in the M4+
In the bottom half of the draw the Selected Leander Club meet Lady Rohesia.
Leander were winners of Elite 8’s at Marlow Regatta in a very brisk 5:32. They are stroked by Lance Tredell who won this event last year in what was basically the GB 2nd 8 (although they weren’t, of course, called that during the Regatta!). He’s joined at 7 by fellow senior international Chris Boddy who won a bronze in the LM2X at the European Championships in 2012. 4 others in the crew have U23 experience Tom Clark, George Rossiter, Tim Clarke and Callum McBrierty. At 4 is Adam Neill who, with a declared weight of 18st 6lbs is the heaviest man in the regatta!
The other two crews in the bottom half of the draw are Brown University up against Oxford Brookes and Taurus.
Brown were 2nd to the Washington Huskies at the IRA’s and also 2nd at the Eastern Sprints. They are stroked by Martin Aspholm who was in Brown crew that lost to the British in the Ladies Plate last year. In comparison to the rest of the competition in this event the Brown Varsity has relatively little international experience with just two U23 internationals on board. Hunter Leeming at bow, and Anderw Weiss at 6 were both in the US U23 8 that won silver last year. But despite the relative lack of International experience the Brown Varsity are a fearsome outfit and have been selected by the Stewards.
The Brookes/Taurus composite has the feel of a bit of a “rent-a-mob” crew. It contains two senior Dutch internationals – Thomas Doornbos who was in the Dutch 8 that finished 5th last year and Stefan Broenink who raced in the Dutch 8 at this years European Championships. At bow is Ben Ruble, formerly of the University of Wisconsin and now Wisco’s assistant Freshman coach. In the 2 seat is another senior international, Australia’s Cameron Brewer who raced in the M8 that won the “B” final at Chungju. At 6 is the U23 US international Leonard Futterman and in the stern is Mason Durant, triple Henley winner and and member of the GB 2nd 8 in the World Cups last year. At stroke is American Henry Hoffstot, stroke of the Cambridge Blue Boat this year. All in all that’s quite a line up, the question is can the gell together and take down the very strong Brown Varsity.
So who will win…It’s a really tough call. The draw should lead to Oklahoma v Cal and Leander v Brown semis but I’m not so sure. I’m going to plump for a Leander victory.
The visitors Challenge Cup
This looks to be one of the most competitive fields at the regatta with a host of seriously quick looking crews.
The Stewards have selected four crews in this event. In the top half of the draw is Oklahoma City River Sport “B” and Harvard. In the lower half of the draw is Oklahoma City River Sport “A” and Leander Club.
The Oklahoma crews are doubling up in the ladies Plate 8 and as mentioned above they are all current or aspiring US lightweight internationals.
The “A” crew is Daniel Kirrane, Joseph Hanlon, Peter Gibson and Andrew Hakanson. The “B” crew is Matthew O’leary, Kyle Traub,Josh Getz and Anders Weiland. The Selection of these two boats in either side of the draw means they won’t meet until the final, but I’ve got a sneaking suspiciion that neither boat will get that far.
In the top half of the draw the first race looks very exciting with the Dutch students from Nereus v the University of London.
Nereus raced at the Holland Beker last weekend finishing 5th (in a race that included the US, Canadian and Dutch national squads). Thijs Ijsbrandy at bow was in the senior Dutch 4- that raced at the European Championships in 2012 and Daniel Nip and Freek Robbers in the stern are both experienced Dutch U23 internationals.
UL raced at Marlow finishing 2nd in Elite 4-. there crew includes U23 silver medalist Matt Rossiter and fellow U23 international James Cook.
Also in the top half of the draw (and possibly my favourites for this half) are Imperial College & the University of the West of England (UWE). All four of the crew are U23 silver medalists with Tom Marshall at bow and Tim Richards at stroke from the U23 LM4- and Charlie Waite-Roberts and Wilf Kimberley medalists from the U23 LM2- last year.They are up against another composite from Elizabethan and Imperial. The crew of George Bradbury, Josh Butler,Henry Goodier and Fred Vystavel raced at Marlow and finished 2nd in Senior 4’s.
The other selected crew in the top half of the draw are Harvard. This is half of the Varsity 8 that finished 5th at the IRA championships. They are stroked by the Harvard captain, Scotsman Andy Holmes himself an U23 silver medalist from 2012. He’s joined by fellow U23 silver medalist Max Meyer-Bosse who was in the US U28 that took silver last year. Harvard are a lot of peoples favourites for this event and they certainly have the talent to go deep into the regatta. But, in their first race they will have to get past Melbourne University – stroked by Tideway Scullers member Alistair Taylor. The Aussies are a good, strong crew but I have a feeling the Crimson will be a little too quick for them.
in the bottom half of the draw Leander are the stand-out slelcted crew. They’ve raced at both the Metropolitan and Marlow regattas winning convincingly at both. All of the crew are experienced internationals with strokeman Kieren Emery a double U23 world champion and also a senior world champion in 2011. He’s backed up by 2 of the GB U23 M4X from last year, Barnaby Stentiford and Stewart Innes with Francis Highton (from last year’s U23 M4-) in the bow seat. Watching them race at Marlow they certainly looked extremely smooth and powerful.
Their first race is against another crew stacked with U23, Junior and Henley medalists. Griffen & Henley are stroked by Vassilis Ragoussis winner of the Princess Elizabeth in 2012 and the Thames Cup in 2013. he’s joined by U23 bronze medalist Ollie Staite and junior medalist John Carter. They will feel a bit unlucky to have drawn Leander in the first round and will struggle to progress.
Cambridge & Columbia Universities raced at Marlow and finished 7th in the Elite 4-‘s. Their crew contains Cambridge Blue Iwo Dawkins and the 6ft 8 Austrian Clemens Auersperg from Columbia. They are up against a strong quartet from Cornell which includes U23 bronze medalist Ned Benning along with Cyler Hamilton, John Sullivan and Michael Colella.
The Oklahoma “A” crew take on fellow Americans from Mendota Rowing Club in Wisconsin. Not a huge amount of info about these guys yet but from the looks of it they are a master programme and may struggle against the Oklahoma lightweights. The final match up in the bottom half of the draw are Molesey v Seeclub Zurich. Molesey were 3rd at Marlow and have senior internationals pete Robinson and Fred Gill at 2 and 3. The Swiss also have some U23 and senior international experience with Pascal Flory at bow (raced in the U23 LM4- in 2009) and Nicola Edelmann at stroke (who raced the LM2- at the senior world championships in 2010). for my money the “men in black” will be too strong for the Swiss.
So who do I think will meet in the final…In the bottom half of the draw Leander should progress relatively untroubled. But in the top half the pick of the races could be Harvard v Imperial/UWE. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be a Leander v Imperial/UWE final with leander club coming out on top.
The final Intermediate event is the Prnce of Wales Challenge Cup
For me I think there’s a clear favourite in this event. Leander are the defending champions and look odds on favourites to retain their title. The crew of Jack Beaumont, Seb Devereux, Sholto Carnegie and Angus Groom are unbeaten so far in the quad this year. Beaumont and Groom won their first senior international vests at the Aiguebelette World Cup racing as GB2 in the M2X winning the “C” final. Seb Devereux and Sholto Carnegie represented GB in the M2X at the Junior World Championships last year finishing 5th. Seb Devereux was in the Leander Fawley Cup quad last year that were favourites to win but suffered a boat stopping (and rigger snapping) crab shortly after the start last year. Sholto Carnegie was in the Marlow quad that ended up winning the Fawley last year. This line-up may well be the GB U23 M4X for this year (although as I understand it Beaumont & Groom could well be the U23 M2X instead).
Leander are selected in the bottom half of the draw and could meet the other selected crew from Sydney in the semi final. The Sydney crew of James Riley, Charlie Patterson, Max Duignan and Aiden Sullivan are a young development crew from the top sydney rowing club. They may, possibly have been lucky to be selected. They face Nottingham and Loughborough in the first round and we may have to wait till then to get an indication of their speed.
Most of the domestic competition competed in various events at Marlow regatta so that does give us some indication of form. Henley Rowing Club are one of selected crew in the top half of the draw. They finished 2nd in Elite 4X at Marlow and were winners at the Metroploitan Regatta. They have a very experienced crew that includes Athens Olympian Pete Wells at bow and senior international Tom Wilkinson at 2. The stern pair is 2008 U23 international Josh Davidson and Henley medalist Dave Read.
The other selected crew n the top half of the draw are from Queen’s University Belfast. They raced at Marlow and finished 4th in Elite Quads. They face Tyrian & Thames in the first round, a crew that they beat by 5 seconds at Marlow. A result that is by no means certain to repeat in a 1 one 1 contest at Henley.
Amongst the unselected crews the pick of the bunch look to be Edinburgh University (winners of Senior 4X at Marlow) and the Welsh squad boat racing as Cardiff University and Cardiff RC. Edinburgh have seen a big investment in infrastructure recently and it is starting to show dividends. they dominated the Scottish Boat Race and are looking to become a major force in rowing in Scotland and the North to compete with the likes of Newcastle and Durham.
The Welsh have Tom Barras and Robbie Massey. They raced as a 2X at Marlow losing to Devereux & Carnegie. They then joined forces in the quad finishing 3rd in Elite quads.
I’m reckoning on a Henley v Queens semi in the top half and Leander v Cardiff Uni/Cardiff City in the bottom half and then a Leander v henley final with Leander taking the title.
So that’s it for the intermediate events. Next will be the club, student and junior events…..watch this space!