Moving swiftly on to the Student events;
The Temple Challenge Cup for men’s Student 8’s
The Prince Albert Challenge cup for men’s student cowed fours
The Temple Challenge Cup
This is always one of the most eagerly contested events at the regatta. Last year saw one of the best races in the history of the event when ASR Nereus met Oxford Brookes on the Friday. Nereus opened a lead over the first half of the course but Brookes inched their way back but ran out of river with the Dutch taking the win by a canvas in the remarkable time of 6:03 a full 9 seconds inside the old record. What was remarkable was that Nereus only equalled the previous record at the barrier and Fawley meaning they covered the 2nd half of the course 9 seconds faster than the previous record. Brookes also finished well inside the previous record. Nereus have moved up to the Ladies Plate but Oxford Brookes are back to win the title they last won in 2014.
This year’s Brookes crew will start as one of the favourites, they have had a spectacular season including winning the Head of The River for the first time in the clubs history, they were winners at the BUCS regatta and have shown consistent pace against both the Nereus and Leander Ladies Plate crew. They raced Nereus at Ghent losing on the Saturday and winning on the Sunday.
The main challenge to Brookes will come from a fleet of US collegiate crews. The leading challenger is likely to be Harvard. This is their Junior Varsity crew that won their category at the IRA’s. This crew includes GB’s junior world champion, Sam Meijer and GB U23 international Adam Janes along with Junior internationals lars Lorch of Germany and Liam Corrigan of the USA.
Another strong US contender are Columbia, they are the IRA Lightweight varsity champions and won silver at the Eastern Sprints. Six of this crew raced at Henley last year losing in the semi-final to the University of Lyon. Members of the Oxford University coaching team will be watching this crew closely as crew member Colin Ross is going up in September.
Yale have brought their Lightweight Varsity crew to Henley. Winners of the Eastern Sprints and 2nd to Columbia at the IRA’s. They thrive in the side-by-side match racing that Henley offers. In 2016 they are undefeated in this type of racing. They will hope to emulate their heavyweight counterparts in the Ladies Plate last year and overturn the form book to take the win.
Another strong US crew are the University of California, Berkeley. This is the Freshman crew for Cal that won gold at the PAC-12 championships and were runners-up in Freshman 8’s at the IRA Championships.
Among the Selected local contenders are Imperial College. They were winners of Elite 8’s at Marlow and bronze medallists at the BUCS regatta. They’ve got several Henley medallists on board, with Tim Richards a winner of the Prince Albert in 2013 and Andrew Halls, a two-time winner of the Princess Elizabeth with Abingdon School and also a winner of the Thames with the Abingdon Alumni, Griffen.
Another Selected UK crew are the University of London. UL are perhaps not quite the force they were in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when they could match the best in the world, but in recent years they have been producing crews that show hints of the old glories. This year’s Purple boat won Open 8’s at the Metropolitan Regatta and were runners-up to Brookes at Marlow. The draw could see them face Harvard on Friday which should be a great race.
Outside of the Selected crews there are a number of crews that could give the Selected boats a real run for their money. St Petersburg University from Russia last raced in this event in 2013 and reached the semi-final. This year their crew includes two athletes from the Russian U23 8 that won bronze last year, Pavel Podolskiy and Ivan Gusev.
University College Dublin are the reigning Irish champions and have also raced in the UK this season winning the Senior 8’s at the Metropolitan Regatta and finishing 3rd at Wallingford. The Irish are always strong at Henley and the draw pits them against Drexel University of the USA in the first round. Drexel come to Henley with a strong reputation having finished 2nd at the Dad Vail regatta and 20th at the IRA Championships.
Following Nereus’ win last year the task of trying to retain the title for the Dutch falls to Koninklijke Studenten Roeivereeniging Njord. They won Senior 8’s at the ZRB regatta but missed out on the final at the Holland Beker.
Oxford Brooke’s “A” crew are favourites for this event but it’s a testament to the strength in depth of Britain’s premier rowing university that they have three eights in the draw. The “B” crew is actually the Brooke’s 3rd 8 (Their 2nd 8 has been split into a Prince of Wales Quad and a Prince Albert 4+) But they are a rapid crew in their own right, winners of IM1 8’s at the Metropolitan regatta and runners up to their own 2nd 8 in Intermediate 8’s at the BUCS regatta. The draw hasn’t been too kind to them however as they face the Selected Cal Berkeley crew in the first round. But Richard Sprately’s boys will make sure the Californians are made to work hard.
The University of Michigan have two 8’s in the main draw and their no.1 crew is their Varsity 8 which won the ACRA championships and placed 4th at the Dad Vails. They face a daunting task in the only All-American heat in the 1st round of the Temple when they take on Harvard. The Michigan 2nd boat is their 2nd Varsity, and they too won their division at the American Collegiate Rowing Association championships. They face Liverpool University in the first round and if successful will then most likely face the fancied Imperial College in the 2nd round.
As mentioned above, this event is one of the most popular at the regatta and always fiercely contested, I’m going to plump for a home nation win for Oxford Brookes “A” crew.
The Prince Albert Challenge Cup
8 crews have been Selected by the Stewards and the favourites for the event may well be the Scots of Edinburgh University. The crew of James Temple, Kieren Tierney, Calum Irvine and Rufus Scholefield won Elite 4+ at the Metropolitan Regatta and finished 3rd at the BUCS Regatta. Scholefield and Irvine were in the Edinburgh crew that set the course record before losing in the quarter final to eventual winners Washington. Scholefield raced for GB in the U23 M8 last year that finished 5th.
One of the main challengers to the Scottish students are the Dutch, Algemene Utrechtse Studenten Roeivereniging Orca. The highlight of their season so far is victory in the Elite 4+ at the Holland Beker defeating crews from Nereus, Oxford Brookes and Laga.
Another strong contender are Newcastle University, winners in 2014. This year’s crew won Senior 4+ at Marlow Regatta and were runners-up to Brookes at the BUCS regatta. The crew includes Ollie Knight, a three time Henley finalist and was part of the GB U23 M8 that finished 5th last year.
Brookes also have a Selected crew in this event, taken out of their 2nd 8 which won the Intermediate 8’s at the BUCS regatta. They haven’t raced much as a four but several of the crew were in the top Brookes crew that won the Senior 8’s at Head of the River in March. 3 seat Will Hall was in the Temple 8 that lost narrowly to Nereus last year and is on the way back from a back injury.
Yale University are one of four Selected US crews. As with the Yale Temple crew the coxed four is from the Lightweight programme. They are half of the 2nd Varsity 8 who won gold in the Lightweight 2V at the Eastern Sprints. The crew includes former Radley oarsmen Alex George, one of three George brothers racing at Henley (elder brother Tom is in the Newcastle/Robert Gordon Uni Stewards four and younger brother Patrick is in the Shrewsbury School Princess Elizabeth crew).
The 2nd of the US Selected crews is Drexel University. This is half of the 2nd Varsity 8 that won at the Dad Vail regatta, their 4th successive victory. Bow seat David Hanrahan and stroke Xavier Stanish have been part of those 4 successive gold medal crews. Thomas Foulds in the 3 seat raced for RGS Worcester in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in 2011 and for Worcester Rowing Club in the Thames Challenge Cup in 2013.
Grand Valley State University of Allendale Michigan are the 3rd of the US Selected crews. This is GVSU’s 2nd boat. Bow seat Donald Jensen won Senior Lightweight 8’s at the US Rowing Club Nationals in 2015. The four contains half of their Varsity 8 that finished 5th at the ACRA Championships. They face a tough first round draw against Durham University’s top coxed four. Durham won bronze as a coxless four at BUCS and with a cox on board finished 4th at the Metropolitan Regatta.
The final US Selected crew are Choate Rosemary Hall from Wallingford, Connecticut. This is a junior crew and they won silver at the New England championships. The Stewards asked Choate to qualify, but clearly they impressed the stewards as they’ve now been Selected. In the first round they face a big challenge from the Irish of Trinity College Dublin. This crew won silver at the Irish University Championships and raced in the UK at the Metropolitan Regatta winning bronze.
My pick….Edinburgh for the win.
That’s it for the Student events, now just the Juniors to do….