The third and final part of my preview for Henley Royal Regatta are the Student and Junior events. These often get the biggest cheers from the crowds on the bank and are some of the most fiercely contested in the whole regatta.
Only one British crew this millennium has won this trophy…that was Oxford Brookes back in 2006 (compared to 10 times for US crews, and twice for the Dutch), and it’s Oxford Brookes who will start as the great British hope to win back the title. But they will have there work cut out against an armada of Dutch and US crews.
The Stewards have selected 12 crews from the 32 entries 3 Dutch, 5 American, 3 British and one from Canada.
In the top half of the draw it’s Oxford Brookes who are the pick of the bunch. It’s a testament to the strength in depth of the Brookes programme that they have three crews in the main draw for this event.
Brookes have certainly been testing themselves this year, after winning Champ 8’s at BUCS the went to Europe winning on both days at Ghent regatta and then racing at Duisburg and Ratzeburg regattas in Germany. At Duisburg they were 3rd to the German and Polish senior men’s 8’s on the Sunday and beat the Czech U23’s into 4th. On the Saturday of the Wedau regatta they were 2nd to the Poles. At Ratzeburg they finished just half a second behind the German U23’s.
They’ve certainly been getting some hard racing experience this season and can certainly match themselves against some of the best U23 crew in the world.The crew includes four GB U23 internationals.
Brooke’s first race is against perennial rivals Newcastle. If they get past the Geordies (which I’m pretty certain they will) they could face their own “C” crew if they succeed in defeating Magdalen College Oxford.
The 2nd of the selected crews in the top half of the draw are Imperial College “A” crew. 3rd at the BUCS championships they raced in Elite 8’s at Marlow finishing 4th just 2/10ths of a sec behind Durham. Durham are also Selected and will probably be facing Imperial on Thursday which could be the race of the day. These 2 crews were only a second apart at BUCS as well so they’ve been trading blows all season and what better stage to settle it once and for all but Henley!
As part of the American invasion of the Temple Cornell have bought their lightweight and heavyweight 8’s and both are selected. The lightweights are the “A” crew and the reigning IRA and Eastern Sprints Lightweight Varsity champions. The “B” crew are a mix of heavyweights from the Cornell programme and include Joel Cooper at bow who won the Princess Elizabeth Cup with Abingdon in 2012 and 2013. They face an intriguing first round race against the Japanese of Hitotsubashi University. If successful they could potentially meet their “A” crew on Friday (assuming results go their way!)
With no fewer than 4 crews in the draw the Thames hasn’t seen such a Dutch invasion of the Thames since Michiel de Ruyter’s raid on the Medway in 1667! 3 of the Dutch crews have been selected, but only one of them is in the top half of the draw; AASR Skoll. They raced at the Holland Beker last weekend and finished 4th in their heat behind the US national crew.
Before moving to the bottom half of the draw it’s worth mentioning the two Eton crews that successfully qualified. The “A” crew are the Eton 2nd VIII and the “B” crew are the U16 crew. It’s a remarkable testament to strength of rowing at Eton that they have three 8’s racing at Henley (with the 1st VIII in the PE). As far as I can tell this is a first for the regatta. In a curious twist of symmetry the Eton “A” crew face the Durham University “B” crew and the Eton “B” crew in their turn race the Durham “A” crew!
I’m going to predict that the top half of the draw will see a semi-final between Oxford Brookes and the Cornell lightweights.
Moving to the bottom half of the draw and it’s much more complicated!
Brown University have brought their a crew containing most of their Freshman 8 to Henley and were 3rd at the IRA’s and won the Freshman division at the Eastern Sprints. The crew includes 2 Aussies, a Kiwi and a Brit in the shape of former Abingdon School cox Neil McKenzie. They face an opening heat against a good University of Bristol crew followed by the winners of Edinburgh and Trinity College Dublin.
The next selected crew in this half are the Canadians from the University of Western Ontario. They are the Canadian University champions and are coached by former Canadian National team coach Volker Nolte. They will be a big feature in this part of the draw and could well face Brown in the quarters.
University of California Berkeley have a very strong selected crew. They are the Cal 2nd Varsity 8 that won their division at the IRA’s.
The final 2 selected crews in the bottom half are both Dutch..ARSR Skadi and the defending champions from Laga. Both these crews raced at the Holland Beker last weekend. Skadi finished 4th in their heat and Laga made the final where they went up against the senior national crews from the US, China and Australia….anything Brookes can do…so can Laga!
Laga are always great fun to watch, from their tattered blazers – reverently handed down from crew to crew – to their tendency to break into song when receiving their trophies they certainly bring colour to the event!
There’s plenty more I could talk about in this event but time is against me….I think in this half of the draw it’ll be a Brown v Cal semi. This will then be a Brookes v Cal final and I’m going to go for the home team to finally bring the trophy back to GB!
The Prince Albert Challenge Cup
4 selected crews. In the top half it’s Oxford Brookes again who are a selected crew, Louis Patterson, Will Moorhouse, Rory Gibbs, Ollie Holt and cox Harry Brightmore were winners of champ 4+ at BUCS and were in the Brookes 2nd 8 that finished 2nd to their first 8 at Ghent. The strength in depth that Brookes has is simply remarkable.
The other selected crew in the top half of the draw are Newcastle. The Geordies were chasing Brookes in the 8 at the start of the season but have switched to the 4 for Henley and will probably start as the pick of the domestic crews. The crew of Jaspar Holst, Ton Ford, James Rudkin, Sam Arnot and cox Callum McRoberts won Elite 4+ at Marlow beating Imperial College (a selected crew in the lower half of the draw) by a comfortable 8 seconds.
The pick of the lower half of the draw are Harvard. They have brought a young and cosmopolitan crew from their freshman squad. At Bow is Brit Matthew Carter who won the Princess Elizabeth with Abingdon school and went onto represent GB at the World Junior Championships. At 2 is Frenchman Sean Vedrinelle, also a 2013 Junior international. At 3 is Ross Jarvis from Manly in Australia and at stroke is Henry Kennelley from Manchester….Massachusetts not Lancashire 😉 They are coxed by the experienced Will Hakim. These guys were 4th in the Freshman 8’s at the IRA’s and are likely to be the pick of the bottom half of the draw. They face Exeter in the first round and will probably meet Imperial in the semi final. For my money it’s going to be Semi-finals of Brookes v Newcastle and Harvard v IC with a Newcastle v Harvard final. I think the trophy will be staying at home!
Now for the Junior events
The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup
Often the PE is the most popular event at the regatta and usually generates the most vociferous support on the banks. Abingdon School have the chance to make history. Only once before has a school won three consecutive titles. Abingdon equaled that record last year, now they have the chance to write their names in the record books and win a 4th consecutive title. The defence of their title looked a little shaky at the start of the season as they suffered with the serious flooding over the winter. But, coach Dave Currie is a master at getting his charges to peak at the right time. He did this superbly at the National School’s Regatta where they destroyed the field to take win the title. The question is, can they repeat the trick at Henley?
Abingdon are likely to meet the Canadians from Shawnigan Lake. They are the last overseas crew to win the PE back in 2008 (the PE titles have been shared between Eton and Abingdon for the past 5 years). Shawnigan were winners of the High School 8’s at the Windermere Cup. I think they will be a good test for Abingdon but not enough to knock the champions out.
The race of the regatta could well be the semi-final which, if it goes to form, should see Abingdon face Eton. Eton were runners up to Abingdon at the National Schools but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion they may reverse that result at Henley. Eton has such momentum at the moment with an unprecedented three eights racing at the regatta that I think they will dethrone the champions (but as an Old-Abingdonian I dearly hope I’m wrong!) Eton have purchased a new Hudson “Super-Predator” boat for Henley so it remains to be seen if that can aid their cause.
In the bottom half of the draw it’s St.Edwards, Hampton, Radley and Brunswick who are the selected crews. St.Edwards have been handed a really tough draw, they face St.Pauls on Wednesday – Bobby Thatcher’s crew were winners of the Schools Head of the river but have been somewhat disappointing in the regatta season missing out on the final at the National Schools. If St.Edwards get past them then they are likely to face Kings College School who finished 1 place behind them at the National Schools. Then they would likely meet either Radley (6th at Nat Schools) who always seem to find more pace at Henley, or the German’s from Osnabruck (winners of the high school 8’s at the Wedau Regatta).
Hampton were 3rd at the National Schools and will be expecting to reach Saturday’s semi-finals at the very least where I reckon they will come up against St.Edwards.
A couple of US schools are selected, Montclair in the top half and Brunswick in the bottom half. Montcalir were 3rd at the Stotesbury Regatta and they face Winchester in the first round and then possibly Pangbourne – winners of the 1st 8’s at National schools in the in the 2nd round. Pangbourne will be a very tough test and may prove to be too quick for the Americans. Brunswick from Connecticut were 3rd in the NEIRA Championships. Their first race is against Westminster which will be intriguing as it is the Westminster J16 8 that won their championship division at the National Schools. It wouldn’t surprise me if the youngsters beat the Americans.
So who are my pick….It’s going to be a very tough and very competitive regatta but I think the semis will be Eton v Abingdon and St.Edwards v Hampton. Eton v St.Edwards in the final with a win for Alex Henshilwood’s Eton.
The Fawley Challenge Cup
8 Selected crews with some very intriguing potential match ups. In the top half of the draw there could well be a semi final clash between the top two schoolboy quads in the country – Sir William Borlase and Westminster. Westminster – Will Moss, Oskar Ulvestad, Sam Meijer and Cam Kerr – were winners of the Schools Head and the National Schools. Winners of the Oarsport Sculling Head and runners up to Westminster at both the Schools Head and the NAtional Schools, Sir William Borlase (Fraser Russell, Angus Warren, Chris Lawrie and Rufus Biggs) won the Elite 4X’s at Marlow Regatta. Should these two meet in the semi’s I would expect a titanic battle.
In the bottom half of the draw it’s Northwich who are the pick of the bunch. Finn Lawton, Zak Trigg, Leon Langmead & Alex Bain were 3rd at National Schools and won J18 quads at Marlow regatta.
The main challenge to Northwich in their half of the draw will be from the Canadians from Ridley. Cosmo Steier, Lucien Brodeur, Daniel Tkaczick & Matthew Szymanowski were winners of senior quads at the Stotesbury Regatta.
I’m going to go for a Northwich v Borlase final with Borlase taking the victory.
The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup
Unfortunately I have run out of time to do justice to this event for which I’m really sorry as it promises to produce some fantastic racing. I know the Juniorrowing blog has a huge amount of info on all the junior events so I would point you there for the in depth preview. I will limit myself now (as racing starts in 8 hours!) to say I think this will go with the Selections to produce a Gloucester v Marlow final with the girls of Gloucester winning.
Good luck to everyone racing and I’m looking forward to commentating on a load of excellent races. Happy to chat to anyone who fancies it whilst at the regatta (so long as I’m not on air at the time!!)