Right, time is marching on so I better get on with previewing the Club events. Now that the draw has been made I can focus on those crews that the Stewards have deemed worthy of Selection (and a few of the others who could give the selected crews a shock!)
27 Green Lake “B” USA. From Seattle Green Lake have two boats entered and both have been selected. At the top of the draw are the “B” crew. This crew raced at Marlow Regatta and finished 3rd in Intermediate 3 8’s losing to Exeter and Vesta (both of whom had to go through qualifying). They may struggle against their first round opponents from The Lea who raced in Intermediate 1 8’s at Marlow, they recorded identical times (6:24) in their respective finals in races 1 hour apart….should be close!
42 Rudern, Tennis und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen, Germany. The Germans are always a threat in this event with Frankfurt winning last year. The Bayer Leverkusen crew includes a pair of junior world champions in the stern, stroke man Felix Krane won the JM8 in 2009 and 7-man Fabian Weiler won gold in the JM4X in 2008. They face Eatsbourne on Wednesday a crew celebrating the clubs 150th anniversary. They’ve put together quite a talented bunch of guys, not sure how many of them have actually rowed in any coastal regattas…. A slightly different line-up finished 2nd in the C-Final on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta. They could give the Germans a good run to Fawley
36 Mercantile Rowing Club, Australia. Selected and one of the favourites to win the event. The club raced this event last year and made the semi-finals losing by just 6ft to the eventual winners from Frankfurt. Just the cox, Annabelle Orr and 5 man Angus Widdicombe return but they have a host of state and national championship medals in the crew, and will probably be the pick of the top half of the draw. They face City of Bristol who came through the qualifiers and will most probably be outgunned by the Melbournites.
32 Leander Club. The Pink Palace has only recently been allowed back into the Thames and are using it as a target for their development squad. At Marlow regatta they finished 5th in Senior 8’s. They are an exciting young crew, all aged 19 (except the cox Sam Royston). They start their campaign against The City of Oxford who came through qualifying and will expect to dispatch them comfortably.
The final selected crew in the top half of the draw are crew 49 The Tideway Scullers School with the “Erg Daddy” himself, Graham Benton at stroke…he’s listed at 16 ½ stone which makes him the heaviest stroke man in the regatta (among the 8’s at any rate). They reached the A-Final of Senior 8’s at Marlow finishing 7th. There was some debate on Twitter as to why Scullers were selected when Agecroft, who finished one place ahead of them at Marlow, were not….but I’ve long given up trying to understand the logic (or lack of) to the Stewards Selection process! Scullers face Thames “B” crew on Wednesday evening. This is a tough first round for TSS as Thames raced well at Marlow finishing 4th in the Intermediate 1 8’s.
In the bottom half of the draw the selected crews are:
51 University Barge Club, USA. A good experienced crew from Philadelphia. They are returning to Henley after a 4 year gap and have three of the crew that raced in 2011 reaching the Friday before losing to eventual finalists Star. They face Vesta who came through the qualifying races last Friday.
57 Sport Imperial. 5th in Elite 8’s at Marlow Regatta the boat includes GB trialist George McKirdy at stroke, Westminster School’s Swiss boatman, Dominik Howald at 7 and the former Westminster oarsman, Cam Kerr at 6. They face qualifiers, Exeter in round one and will be looking forward to a potential meeting with the University Barge on Friday.
527 Rennrudergemeinschaft Mulheim/Ruhr, Germany. I must admit these are an unknown quantity. They look like a late entry (shock…do such things exist at Henley!!) and they do not appear on the original entry list I received. A bit of research has also not yielded too much information. But, the Stewards have selected them so it’s safe to assume they are a quick crew, most probably with some former junior internationals onboard as with Bayer Leverkusen.
They face Thames “C” in round one. It’s worth commenting on the achievement of Thames at this year’s regatta. They have succeeded in getting four crews into the main draw of the Thames Cup, an outstanding achievement matching that done by their Putney neighbours, London in 2003. What makes it particularly special is that the Thames “D” crew started the season as novices and to qualify for Henley in their first season is a major achievement.
The Thames “A” crew (crew 45) are the next selected boat in the draw. Thames have very high hopes for this crew to go all the way. They won the Vernon Trophy at the Head of the River for the first time since 1961. They raced at Marlow, finishing 3rd in Elite 8’s but being the fastest Thames Cup eligible crew. They’ve made the semis every year since 2010 and were beaten finalists in 2012…this year may well be the year they finally get their names on the trophy.
The final selected crew in the event are crew 26, Green Lake “A”. They have a very tough first round race in what could be the race of the event on day 1. The Americans raced at Marlow in Intermediate 2 8’s finishing 1st in the B-Final. They face the Tideway Scullers “B” crew on Wednesday a crew that finished 1 ½ seconds behind them at Marlow. Head-to-head over 2112 metres it’s going to be really tight. I’ve a feeling that both of the Green Lake selected crews may face an early exit.
Who will I pick for the win? Looking at the draw I’m going to stick my neck out and go for a Mercantile v Thames final with the guys from Putney finally getting the win.
Wyfold Challenge Cup
213 Dresdner Ruderverein e.v. Germany. Three of this boat won bronze at the European University Championships in 2013, Franz Dieringer, Hannes Janicke and Albrecht Dunkel. They face qualifiers HSBC Rowing Club who raced in the B-Final of Intermediate 1 4- at Marlow.
Although neither crew are selected the race between crew 221, Lady Elizabeth Ireland and 234 Nottingham RC could be a cracker. Lady Elizabeth are the alumni of Dublin University. They face Nottingham who performed well at Marlow finishing 6th in the Senior 4’s and winning Intermediate 1.
253 Tyrian Club. One of the favourites for the event. The crew of James Clarke, Ralph Elsegood, Julien Bubb-Bubb-Humfryes and Chris Goldsack were winners of Senior 4’s at Marlow. They have a tricky first round against Marlow who they beat by a couple of lengths at Marlow regatta.
229 N.S.R Oslo, Norway. No strangers to Henley, they are stroked by Ole Henrik Bang-Andreasen. He was part of the Norwegian U23 quad that lost the final of the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup in 2013. They face a crew from local club, Henley, winners of Intermediate 1 at Reading Regatta. That’s by no means an easy race for the Norwegians, Henley had to come through the qualifiers but they will give Oslo a hard time.
249 The Tideway Scullers School. Last year was a case of so near and yet so far as Scullers reached the final only to be disqualified following a clash against Upper Thames. The decision by the umpire is still the topic of much debate to this day, stories of crew members “storming the Committee Lawn” have been dismissed as “wildly exaggerated”. Three of that crew are back for another go, Stuart Heap, Nathan O’Rielly & Adam Lodygowski. Last year’s 3 man, Billie Fields, is replaced by Adam Ridler. At Marlow they finished 3rd in the Elite 4- . But, more importantly than that result will be the burning desire to put right the mistakes of last year. They have a relatively straightforward first round against Newark who finished 6 in the Intermediate 1 four’s at Marlow.
In the bottom half of the draw the first selected crew are 243 Star Club from Bedford. The crew of Tom Durrant, Lloyd Mulkerrins, Sam Butker and Callum Beasley finished one place behind Tideway Scullers in Elite 4’s at Marlow. A very experienced outfit three of the crew raced last year losing on Friday to the eventual winners from Upper Thames. They could well repeat that sort of feat again this year. They face qualifiers, Leeds Rowing Club and should progress without too much difficulty.
245 Sydney Rowing Club. Another overseas club with a significant Henley history to their credit. This year’s crew is Lachlan Hine, Charlie Patterson, Piers Haskard and Dylan Broakes. Hine was part of Sydney crew which won the Fawley in 2011 and Charlie Patterson was in the Prince Of Wales Quad that reached the Friday at last year’s regatta. They race Qualifiers City of Oxford which should then set up a meeting between the winners of Petone Rowing Club, New Zealand and Nottingham “B”.
227 Molesey Boat Club. Top performer of all the domestic Wyfold entries at Marlow regatta. They finished 2nd to the Newcastle University Visitors 4. Last year three of the crew, Chris Rae, Ali Douglass and harry Glenister were part of the Molesey Thames Cup 8 which lost to Frankfurt on Friday. This year they are possibly the strongest domestic challenge to take the title. They start their campaign against Quintin who I fear maybe slightly outclassed by one of the favourites.
255 Upper Thames Rowing Club “A”. The defending champions, although, of course Regatta rules means none of last year’s crew can compete in this event again. The crew of James Hanson, Laurence Manning, Jason Turner and Dan Boddington, finished 2nd to Tyrian in Senior 4’s at Marlow. A good quality crew but they may struggle to repeat the successes of last year’s crew. They race Royal Chester in round 1.
My pick for the win….I’m going to predict a Tideway Scullers v Molesey final (although Molesey may have a tough time getting past Sydney) with the scullers missing out for the 2nd year running.
The Britannia Challenge Cup
422 The Tideway Scullers School. Just one of the crew, Richard Chambers, remains from the 2014 Britannia Challenge Cup crew that lost to Upper Thames in Friday’s racing. This year Chambers is joined by Billie Fields, Murray Wilkojc, and Dan Dalmau. They finished 7th in Elite 4’s at Marlow and 2nd in Elite 4’s at the Metropolitan Regatta. They have a tricky first round race against Molesey who finished 4th in the Senior 4’s at Marlow.
The other selected crew in the top half of the draw are crew 420 Sydney Rowing Club. They have two returners from the crew that made the semi-finals last year; Tom Gunton and Ed White. They also raced overseas at the Head of The Charles last October where three of the crew (Gunton, White & Matt Dignan) finished 4th in the Championship 4’s division. They face Nottingham in round one.
In the bottom half of the draw the first selected crew are 411 Lea Rowing Club. The crew of Guy Arnold, Gabor Marton, Jacek Dolny and Tony Brewer were winners of Senior 4’s at the Metropolitan Regatta and 5th in Elite 4’s at Marlow. The Lea were a dominant force in British rowing in the 1980’s and 90’s (they were finalists for 5 years running in this event in the late 80’s winning in 1987 and also winning the Thames in 1992 and the Wyfold in 95). They have perhaps fallen away slightly since then but this crew could well rekindle some of those glory days. They face Kingston on Wednesday, a crew they have already beaten comfortably this season.
The other selected crew are 421 Thames Rowing Club. The crew of Harry Dorrance-King, Henry Poor, Charles Herbert and Nick Turnbull were winners of Senior 4’s at Marlow following a 2nd and 3rd in Senior 4’s at the Metropolitan Regatta weekend. They face qualifiers Deal, Walmer & Kingsdown Amateur Rowing Club.
Outside of the selected crews look out for crew 425 Vesta, 2nd in Senior 4’s at Marlow and also 416 Quintin 2nd in Intermediate 1.