Time for my annual look at the entries for Henley Royal Regatta….I’m going to start with the men’s Open events:
1 Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club
2 National Training Centre, Australia
3 Ruder Club Hansa von 1898 e.V. Dortmund, Germany
The British and the Germans have been going toe-to-toe for the past couple of years. The British won the one that mattered last year, the World Championships. So far this season it’s one-all. The Germans took the Europeans but the British got their own back at the 2nd World Cup. What will concern the Germans is that the British crew will be strengthened at Henley with the return from his studies of Constantine Louloudis. The former Oxford President is a talismanic figure for the British and it’ll be interesting to see where he slots in. Will he sit in his usual stroke seat or not? Will Satch has been doing an excellent job and they may choose to put Stan in at 2 or 6.
There was some debate among the commentators at the World Cup that the German’s may choose to skip Henley after the defeat to the British. Hopefully they won’t chicken out and we’ll see round three over the Henley stretch.
But, this assumes that either crew will get past the Australians (I expect the draw to pit the Germans against the Aussies). The Aussies have yet to race in Europe but they have an impressive line-up which includes Josh Dunkley-Smith who recently joined the sub-5:40 club. Also in the boat is James Chapman who was in the 3rd placed M4- at last year’s world Championships and three of the 6th placed Olympic 8. They will have the speed to give either the Germans or the British and good run for their money. But, on home water, and with Stan Louloudis added to the boat I think the British – Leander Club & Molesey – will have too much firepower for the Germans and will take the win. If conditions are right I would hope for a sub-6 minute time…possibly even a record.
The British are the reigning European champions and as such will start as favourites. A 5th place finish in Varese was a little disappointing for the crew of Nathanial Reilly O’Donnell, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Scott Durant. As with the Grand I fully expect the British to get a bye to the final and the race between the Greeks and the new South African 4 could be really close.
The Greeks, Ioannis Tsilis, Dionysios Angelopoulos, Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou, were 2nd to the British at the Europeans are an experienced outfit.
The South Africans have put together a really interesting new crew with Lawrence Brittain, Jonty Smith, Sizwe Ndlovu and Vincent Breet. Ndlovu was stroke of the gold medal Olympic lightweight 4- and is now stepping up to the heavyweight division. The South Africans coach, Roger Barrow, has said he’s not expecting too much from this new combination at Henley (or the week after in Lucerne) but they are focussed on finishing in the top 11 at the Worlds and securing the all important qualifying slot. If the draw pits them against the Greeks it’ll be a good race to watch. But in the end I think the British will be too quick for whoever races them in the final and I’m going for a home win.
The Queen Mother Challenge Cup
260 Leander Club and Agecroft Rowing Club
261 Rostocker Ruder-Club and Potsdamer Ruder-Gesellschaft e.V., Germany
Leander Club and Agecroft are the reigning champions and I fully expect them to retain their title. It’s looking likely that they will also retain the line-up that won so spectacularly in Varese. Charlie Cousins is back to training having recovered from what I believe was a hand injury, but is not yet race fit so it’s likely that Angus Groom will retain his seat. They had a good battle with the Germans in Varese and a side-by-side 2112m confrontation could go all the way to the wire (just as an aside, if GB decide to put Jack Beaumont in the Quad in place of Groom, and they win, he could become the first person to win all three men’s Quad events at Henley….he’s already won the Fawley in 2012, and the Prince of Wales in 2013 and 2014).
The Double Sculls Challenge Cup
490 J.E. Collins & J.F.L. Walton (Leander Club)
491 H.C.J. Goodier & J.G. Bugajski (Oxford University and Keble College, Oxford)
492 P.F. Graves & T.H. Graves (Craftsbury Sculling Center, U.S.A.)
493 E.J. Griffiths & A.M. Pascovitch (City of Bristol Rowing Club)
494 P.J. Keane & V.P. Piticariu (Team Keane Sculling School)
495 C.B. Kuyt & B.D. Lukkes (Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Laga and Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Proteus-Eretes, Holland)
496 A.D.R. Leighton-Crawford & C.J. Clarke (The Tideway Scullers’ School)
497 J.A.D. Preston & B.B. Simpson (Reading University)
498 J.M. Thompson & J.E. Smith (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
The entry is down on last year (9 v 17) and it is shaping up to be a heavyweight v lightweight battle….just like last year. In 2014 the Leander Club combination of Collins and Walton lost a titanic battle to the French lightweights, Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou, by just 3 feet. This year they could well face the lightweight world Champions from South Africa, James Thompson and John Smith who set a World Best Time when they beat the French by 9/100th of a second at the World Championships in Amsterdam. The British have been on the receiving end of a number of incredibly narrow defeats and they will definitely want to break the habit.
Behind these two the Dutch are no slouches, they were U23 LM2X silver medallists last year and also the American Graves brothers are no strangers to Henley having given the British M4X a real scare in the Queen Mother last year leading the British at both the Barrier and Fawley before eventually losing by just half a length.
I’m expecting a Leander v Pretoria final with the heavyweight Brits finally getting on the right side of a tight finish.
The Silver Goblets and Nickalls Challenge Cup
477 M. Brinker & P.J.R. Reynolds (Sons of the Thames Rowing Club)
478 J.A. Brown & S.W.D. Thornton (Manchester University)
479 A.R.P. Emmett & S.P. Hardy (Harvard University, U.S.A.)
480 J.C. Foad & M.K. Langridge (Molesey Boat Club and Leander Club)
481 D.I. Hunt & S.B. Keeling (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
482 S.G. Innes & O.R.G. Cook (Leander Club and University of London)
483 R. Kajiwara & R. Arakawa (Hitotsubashi University, Japan)
484 S. Nakamura & N. Kamada (Mitsubishi Boat Club, Japan)
485 W.B. Rosenbloom & S.P. Keenan (Yale University, U.S.A.)
486 M.T. Tarrant & C.S. McBrierty (Leander Club and Oxford Brookes University)
487 C.E. Thurston & W.K.H. Geffen (Keble College, Oxford)
488 W.J. Todd & D.J. Kempsell (Lady Rohesia Boat Club)
489 A.J. Wright & L.J.K. Snelson (National Training Centre, Australia)
Another event with a strong GB squad presence. James Foad and Matt Langridge won an excellent final at the European Championships, beating the French Olympic silver medallists. Unfortunately they had to withdraw from the World Cup after Foad had, what was described as “ a minor niggle”. Fingers crossed he’s fully recovered as they are a very exciting pair, and, after posting a 6:13.7 in the final at Amsterdam became the fastest GB M2- ever (which when you consider that includes crews like Holmes & Redgrave, Pinsent & Redgrave, Pinsent & Cracknell, Hodge & Reed is quite an accomplishment).
The main challenge is likely either the South Africans or their own GB teammates. David Hunt and Shaun Keeling of the University of Pretoria are no strangers to this course. They have raced this event in both 2013 and 2014 (although not together). Keeling raced with Vincent Breet last year, losing in the final (they went on to win bronze at the world Championships). Hunt raced with Lawrence Brittain in 2014 losing to Keeling and Breet in the semi.
I’m hoping the draw will put together the two other GB squad pairs, Stuart Innes and Ollie Cook (Leander/UL) and Matt Tarrant and Callum McBrierty (Leander/Oxford Brookes). Innes has been racing in the M8 so far this season and has a gold and silver medal for his troubles. He’s made way for Louloudis to return to the boat and instead races with Ollie Cook – winner of the Ladies Plate and European bronze medallist. Tarrant and McBrierty raced as GB2 at the 2nd World Cup and did brilliantly to make the A-final. As I said, I hope these two crews meet as it could be a cracker.
The final crew to mention are the Australians, Aaron Wright and Louis Snelson, both U23 silver medallists from 2014 and still U23 eligible.
I’m going to go for a Foad/Langridge win
The Diamond Challenge Sculls
499 A.W. Campbell (The Tideway Scullers’ School)
500 D.J. Clift (Isle of Ely Rowing Club)
501 A.A. Cowley (Newark Rowing Club)
502 G. Csepregi (Danubius Nemzeti Hajós Egylet, Hungary)
503 S.J. Devereux (Leander Club)
504 A.M.O. Drysdale (West End Rowing Club, New Zealand)
505 D.M. Evans (Leander Club)
506 C.H.P. Gathercole (University of Bristol)
507 M.E. Lawrence (Quintin Boat Club)
508 W.H. Mackworth-Praed (Auriol Kensington Rowing Club)
509 A.M. Pascovitch (City of Bristol Rowing Club)
510 C.K. Revell (Caius Boat Club, Cambridge)
511 J.J. Stringfellow (Cardiff University)
512 S.J. Tuck (Durham University)
513 M. van Blokland (Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Proteus-Eretes, Holland)
514 L.A.J. Wells (Army Rowing Club)
515 D.J. Willmington (Exeter Rowing Club)
This is lining up to be a classic Drysdale v Campbell final. They have 7 Diamonds titles between them and I would expect the draw to give them both a run to Sunday without too much difficulty. Csepregi of Hungary is an experienced lightweight international and Seb Devereux of Leander was in the Prince of Wales Quad that won in 2014 and has just finished his Freshman year at the University of Washington.
Campbell has been out of form for over a year and only made his competitive return last week at the World Cup. He performed brilliantly to make the A-final and finish 5th, but, it was 13 seconds behind the Kiwi. A win for the man from tideway scullers might be a bit too much to expect having only just returned to competition, but Henley has a way of springing surprises and bringing out the best in both of these scullers. Campbell is renowned for his fast starts whereas Drysdale tends to start more steadily and have a relentless base speed. If Campbell can get his bows in front he could spring a surprise on the world champion.
The women’s open events and the intermediate events will follow tomorrow….