Now, I’ve been quite hard on the coxed four events at Henley in the past few months. If I’m honest I’d like to see them replaced with a club and student level quads events. But, looking at the entries in the PA it’s looking to be one of the most competitive fields in the whole regatta. I would argue that it’s a better quality field than in the Temple. Anyway onto the preview….
All the Selected crews (there are 8 of them) get byes through the first round so I’ll review them and who their likely competition will be in round 2.
The first Selected crew at the top of the draw are 468 University of California, USA. Their crew is Harry Kelly (from Tiffin school in the UK), Australian James Riley and Americans Max Hall and Jared Arat coxed by Julian Venonsky. 3 of this crew were in the Cal Bears Freshmen varsity 8 that won silver at the IRA Championships. Harry Kelly was in the Varsity 4 that also won silver at the IRA’s. They will face the winners of Newcastle “A” v Nereus. Newcastle’s crew raced in Elite 4’s at Marlow making the A-Final. The Dutch are Nereus’s 2nd ranked boat at Henley. Coxed fours aren’t terribly popular in Holland so most of these guys racing has been in the 8. They were in the Nereus 3rd Division 8 that won at the Heineken so they are a good strong crew with a couple of former junior internationals onboard (including junior silver medallist Jeroen Oortwyn). It should be a good battle between these two and I think the Dutch will progress to face Cal.
The next selected crew in the draw are 435 Durham University. The crew of Ben Witting, Will Mace, Chetan Chauhan-Sims and Ed Gleadowe raced in the coxless 4 at BUCS winning the bronze medal (although neither of the crews who finished ahead of them are racing in the PA). With the addition of Ed Previte in the coxswains seat they raced in the Elite 4+ at Marlow and finished 3rd in a tight final with Imperial and Edinburgh.
Their 2nd round opponents will be either Exeter or the University of Virginia “A”. Exeter came through qualifying and raced recently in the Senior 4’s at Marlow where they finished 5th. The Virginia “Hoos” are from the successful 2nd Varsity 8, Jonathan McNulty, Andrew Heinzman, Keith Casscells-Hamby and Nathan Heinzman (along with cox Lindsay Sackellares) were gold medalists in the 2nd Varsity division at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships and two time Collegiate coxed four champions at the Head of the Charles. I would expect the Hoos to progress to face Durham, and they could well give the Durhamites a serious test in round 2.
476 Yale University are the next crew in the draw to be selected. As with the Bulldogs 8 in the Ladies Plate they are a huge crew, with American’s Cole Tilden and Lyon van Voorhis standing 6ft 8 and 6ft 7 respectively and the Australian stern pair of Dougall Hamilton and Oscar O’Reilly both coming in at 6ft 6. They were all part of the Bulldogs Junior Varsity 8 that finished 5th at the IRA’s. They will face the winners of an all-American first round contest between Harvard “B” and Columbia. This promises to be a good race with both crews coming from their respective lightweight programmes. The Harvard crew were 3rd in the Lightweight Varsity 4’s at the IRA’s. The Columbia crew are all from the 2nd Lightweight varsity crew which finished 4th at the Eastern Sprints. It should be a good contest but I expect the Crimson to reach round 2.
The final selected crew in the top half of the draw are the Dutch; 433 Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Proteus-Eretes. They are perhaps the strongest of the three Dutch crews in the event. They include former junior international Jiri de Vos at bow. This season they have mainly been racing as a coxless 4 and finished 4th at the Dutch National Championships. They will race the winners of Hobart College “A” and Oxford Brookes “A”. The Americans are a mix of their 2nd and 3rd Varsity 8’s and were successful in coming through qualifiers. Brookes are probably a little bit miffed not to be selected. Two of the crew (Louis Patterson and Matt Hnatiw) were in the BUCS crew that won gold in the Champ 4 and Richard Hume was in the gold medal Intermediate 4 at BUCS. At Marlow they raced in the Elite 4+ finishing 4th (albeit with 1 change to the Henley crew). I’ve got a feeling the Brookes boys are going to go quite deep in this event and should dispatch Hobart and probably Proteus as well.
In the bottom half of the draw the first selected crew are 436 Edinburgh University. One of the strongest university boats in the country, the crew of Calum Irvine, Graham Ord, Henry Millar and Rufus Scholefield were silver medalists at BUCS and also runners-up in Elite 4’s at Marlow – finishing less than half a second behind Imperial College (more on them below).
The Scots face the winners of the only single club race in the first round; Goldie “A” v Goldie “B”. This should be a comfortable win for the “A” crew. Chris Black was in the Goldie Boat Race crew in 2014 with crewmates Ali Abbasi and Piers Kasas being part of the 2015 crew. This season they raced in Elite 4’s at Marlow finishing 7th. The “B” crew are part of the Cambridge development squad and finished 3rd in Intermediate 2 fours at Marlow. Edinburgh will expect to beat Goldie “A” which will present a likely meeting with the next selected crew the University of Washington.
474 University of Washington. Probably the favourites for the event. The Huskies are, without doubt, the strongest University rowing programme in the world at the moment, as demonstrated by their unprecedented success at the IRA where they won all of the heavyweight titles (1st, 2nd, 3rd Varsity, Freshmen and Varsity 4’s). The crew in the PA are all from the 2nd Varsity 8 and include Jake Zier, Ed Nainby-Luxmoore, Sean Raffetto and Philip Walczak. They will face the winners of a “B” crew contest, Newcastle “B” v Hobart “B”. Newcastle were runners-up in Intermediate 2 4’s at Marlow and Hobart are all out of their 2nd Varsity crew. It should be a good contest but whoever wins will progress no further than Thursday!
Next among the Selected crews is 447 Imperial College. These are the top British crew in the event, Ollie Hines, Tristan Vouilloz, Ben Thomas and Myles Holbrough (coxed by Eleanor Smith)were winners of Elite 4’s at Marlow. Thomas and Hines were silver medallists in Champ 2- at BUCS and all four were part of the IC 8 that won bronze at BUCS.
They will race the winners of Kings College London and Oxford Brooke’s “B”. KCL raced at Marlow in Intermediate 2 4’s finishing 6th and Brookes were 7th in Senior 4’s and bronze medallists in Intermediate 4’s at BUCS. This should be a relatively comfortable win for Brookes but then they face IC….
The final selected crew in the draw are 442 Harvard University “A”. This is part of the Harvard Freshmen squad and are a mix of 2nd and 3rd Varsity crew members. It’s a very international crew (as are most Harvard crews) with Aussies Ben Strathmore and Dominic Glover, Kiwi Ryan Rasmussen and Americans Travis Taffe and Cole Durbin (cox). They will race the winners of Cornell v Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Laga. Cornell are from the “Big Red’s” 2nd lightweight Varsity and the Dutch are the reserves for the Temple 8. Despite giving away an average of nearly three stone per man I expect the lightweights to come through day 1 to face Harvard.
Right….so who do I think is going to win. As I said earlier, it’s an incredibly competitive field. I think this is probably going to be an all American final Washington v Cal with the Huskies taking the win.