Henley Royal Regatta 2017 preview part 5 – The student events


With time rapidly running out before racing starts I need to crack on with the Student events…


The Temple Challenge Cup


The Temple Challenge Cup

Holders: Oxford Brookes University “A”

12 crews have been Selected by the Stewards in what is always a fiercely contested event.

First of the selected crews in the draw are one of three Dutch crews in the draw, all of whom have been Selected. Top of the list are KSRV Njord, from Leiden near The Hague. Last weekend they raced in the Intermediate event at the Holland Beker winning the gold medal in an impressive time of 5:40.

They face one of three Oxford Brookes’ crews in the first round, the Oxford Brookes “C” crew. This Brookes’ crew were unlucky at Marlow Regatta when an equipment failure meant they were a “DNF” In the Tier 2 8’s final having posted the 3rd fastest time in the Time Trial.

Winners of the Tier 2 race at Marlow was the Oxford Brookes’ “B”crew, stroked by Tom Asteriades. They are the 2nd Selected boat in the top half of the draw. On the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta this crew was 3rd in Tier 1 8’s in a remarkable 1,2,3 for Oxford Brookes. In their first race on Wednesday Brookes face Imperial College. This promises to be a great contest, at Marlow Regatta Brookes’ won the Tier 2 8’s with Imperial in 2nd. 8 seconds separated the two crews on that occasion. It’ll be interesting to see if Imperial can narrow the gap in a match race on the 2112m Henley course.

The third Selected crew in the top half of the draw are Kings College Queensland, Australia. Not a particularly long-established or renowned rowing programme in Australia, Kings nevertheless have had a good run since arriving in the UK. They raced Tier 2 8’s at Marlow finishing 4th in the B-Final, and at Reading Town Regatta they placed 2nd in their heat of Senior 8’s. They face a first round contest against Bath University who finished 3rd in University 8’s at Marlow. This should be a good race and the Aussies will have a fight on their hands to progress to Thursday.

The next Selected crew are Yale University. This crew is a mix of the 2nd and 3rd Varsity 8’s, with Edgar Staunton, Tom Beck, John Risbergs, Angus Morrison, Seth Bartlett and cox Woods Connell from the 2V and Tom Bischoff and Bryan DeVries from the 3V. The final member of the crew is Nick Helms, who didn’t race during the last season. Both the 2nd and 3rd Varsity boats finished 4th in their respective events at the IRA Championships and will be expecting to do well at Henley. They have University College London in the first round and will be confident of progressing.

The next Selected crew are the University of London “A” crew. UL have a proud history at Henley – there was a time that UL “Purples” were banned from this event as they were considered of too high a standard. After a few years in the doldrums, UL men’s rowing is going through a bit of a renaissance, and UL are about the only British university that have gotten anywhere near Oxford Brookes. At the BUCS Regatta UL were delighted to win the silver medal, losing out to the top Brookes crew (the majority of whom are racing in the Ladies Plate) but beating the top Brookes Temple crew. But at the Metropolitan regatta Brookes’ got revenge pushing UL back into 4th, behind both the 1st and 2nd Brookes Temple boats. At Marlow Regatta UL finished 3rd, a length behind the no.1 Brookes Temple crew in an excellent time of 5:37. UL race Bucknell University from Lewisburg Pennsylvania. The Bucknell Bisons finished their regular season on a high with a silver medal in the Varsity 8’s at the ACRA Championships on Lake Lanier Georgia. This should be a good contest but I expect UL to progress.

At the bottom of this half of the draw are Cornell University “A” crew. One of three Cornell boats in the draw, this crew are the Lightweight Varsity crew. They’ve had an exceptional 2017 season, going undefeated and winning the Lightweight Varsity 8’s at the IRA’s. They will be one of the favourites in the top half of the draw and a potential meeting with either UL or Yale on Friday could be one of the highlights of the day.


Cornell University, USA winners of the Lightweight Varsity 8’s at the IRA Championships

The first Selected crew in the lower half of the draw are University of California, Berkeley USA. The Cal Bears will start as one of the favourites. The crew is a mix of the 2nd and 3rd Varsity boats and has a distinctly Aussie feel to it with no fewer than 5 Australians on board – James Riley, Jack Cleary, Hamish McDonald, Sam Horsley and Mark Brinker. Horsley and Brinker were in the Cal boat that raced in the Ladies Plate last year losing to Leander in the Semi-Final. The 2V members of the crew (Hunter Hodges, Jo Sterner, McDonald & Horsley) won silver at the IRA’s this season with the 3V (Riley, Will Creedon & Brinker) placing 3rd in their division. Facing the Bears on Wednesday are the medics of the United Hospitals – 4 from Imperial College School of Medicine, 4 from Barts and 1 from Kings. The cox, Alexander Davie is the first of the crew to qualify as a Dr. This crew have no illusions about the challenge they face against the Californians, but are determined to make the most of the “Henley experience”.

The next Selected crew are the University of Virginia, coached by Frank Biller. The crew includes a couple of talented lightweight oarsmen, Calvin Heimberg at bow and stroke Chris Hastings, who won the LWT 4+ at the Dad Vails last year and were 4th in the LM4- at the Head of the Charles. They also have a number of heavyweight varsity rowers who finished 3rd at the ACRA Championships. One thing you can be sure of with any Virginia crew is that they will be easy to spot at Henley as they paint their blades in a particularly vibrant variation of their traditional orange colours (I’m told it’s only this bright for Henley!) Racing against UVA are Goldie Boat Club. This is the Cambridge development crew with an eye mainly on building a squad for the 2018 Boat Race and beyond.

Although neither are a Selected crew, it’s worth just quickly mentioning an all-American race between Santa Clara University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute – a classic West Coast v East Coast match.

Unusually for Henley the draw has pitted two Selected crews against each other in the first round, Cornell University “B” and the lightweights from the University of Groeningen, The Netherlands. Cornell is a heavyweight development boat with a mix of guys from their 2nd, 3rd and 4th Varsity boats, all of whom raced at the Eastern Sprints and IRA’s. Not much info on Groeningen but they are a strong lightweight boat. This should be a good match up.

Oxford Brookes “A” at the next Selected crew and for many people they are favourites to take the title. At the BUCS Regatta they were pipped for 2nd by UL but at the Metropolitan regatta they finished 2nd to their own number 1 boat and then at Marlow they produced an outstanding row to finish 2nd again the Brookes/Taurus Ladies Plate. Their time at Marlow of 5:34 broke the previous club record.

The final Selected crew in the bottom half of the draw are the lightweights from ASR Nereus. Winners of the LM8 at the Heineken Championships earlier this year they are a good, strong lightweight boat. After the shenanigans between Brookes and Nereus last year a potential match up on Thursday between these two clubs (albeit with very different crews) will be “fun”. To get to Thursday Nereus have to get passed fellow lightweights Cornell University “C”. This is a lightweight development boat from Cornell made up of guys from their 2nd, 3rd and 4th Varsities who all raced at the Eastern Sprints and IRA’s. This should be another good battle – if there’s one thing the American crews know how to do and that’s match race.


My picks…this is always a tight contest – the potential semi-final match ups between Cal and Brookes’ “A” could be the race of the regatta on Saturday. I think the title will go to Brookes.


The Prince Albert Challenge Cup


The Prince Albert Challenge Cup

Holders: Edinburgh University “A”


8 Selected crews in this 16 boat event. At the top of the draw the Selected crew is DSR Laga from the Netherlands, winners earlier this season at the ZRB Regatta. They face the schoolboys from Kent School, Connecticut. They raced at Marlow finishing 4th in the B-Final of Champ 4+.

The second Selected crew are Imperial College. The crew of Oliie Hines, Tristan Vouilloz, Tobias Heaton, Jack Walsh and cox Chris Au will probably start as marginal favourites for the title. They were 4th at BUCS but since then have victories in Championship 4’s at both the Metropolitan and Marlow regattas. Their first race is against the University of Surrey. They can probably count themselves unlucky to draw the favourites in the first round as they’ve had a solid season of racing and if the draw had been more favourable could have progressed a couple of rounds, 3rd in Tier 3 at the Met they were 2nd in College 4’s at Marlow.

The next Selected boat are the Americans from Boston University. This is half of the BU 2nd Varsity 8 that finished 6th at the IRA’s. stroking the boat is US U23 international Isaac Mocarski. They face the University of Bristol in the first round stroked by former GB Junior international Callum Gathercole.

Edinburgh University are the defending champions and have been selected again this year. They may find the going a little tough to retain their title. This year’s crew of Finlay Watson, Andras Nemeth, Ryan Morrison, Callum Urquhart and Rosie Margolis, raced in the Champ 4+ event at Marlow finishing 2nd in the B-Final. Facing Edinburgh are Durham University “A”. This will be a tough race for the Selected crew, Durham won Tier 3 4’s on both days at the Met and at Marlow they won College 4’s posting a time 9 seconds faster than Edinburgh. This could well be the race of the round in this event.


Edinburgh University – winners in 2016

In the bottom half of the draw the first Selected crew are from the University of London. They last won this event in 2012, for 2017 the crew is Stuart Pearce, Andrew Holm, Fred Smart, Archie Hilder and cox Harry Peters. They raced in Tier 2 on both days of the Metropolitan Regatta finishing 6th on Saturday and 3rd on Sunday.  They also raced Tier 2 at Marlow ending up in the B-Final. What will be of concern to the UL coaches is that five of their Prince Albert competition finished ahead of them in the A-Final. In their first race they faced the Durham University “B” crew. This could be a tricky match for the selected crew, Durham finished 3rd in College 4’s at Marlow in a significantly quicker time than UL. At the Met Durham finished 2nd in Tier 3 on Saturday and Sunday.

The next selected crew are from the University of Virginia. They raced in the Collegiate 4’s event at the Head of the Charles finishing 9th. The crew includes Connor O’Brien who won gold in the 3rd Varsity at the Dad Vails, Sebastian Simko a gold medallist in the M4X at the ACRA Championships, and Grant Janart, a silver medallist at the ACRA’s. They have an all-USA first round when they face Colgate University from Hamilton New York. The stern pair of the Colgate crew, Peter Rex and Liam Emmart raced the Varsity pair at the Dad Vails finishing 3rd. The bow pair, Tom Parker and Peter Baker raced in the Freshman/Novice 8’s at the Dad Vails finishing 10th.

Newcastle University are the next Selected crew, they last won this event in 2014. This year’s boat is probably the favourite for this half of the draw. They were silver medallists at the BUCS Regatta and finished 2nd to Imperial College in Champ 4’s at Marlow. Looking at the splits between Newcastle and Imperial it looks like IC got the jump off the start covering the 1st 500m 2 seconds quicker than Newcastle in 1:32.6. For the remaining 1500m there was almost nothing to choose between them. If these two crews get to the final it could be a cracking race. For their first race Newcastle face a crew from the Université de Lyon. They were part of the Aviron Club De Lyon M8 that were joint winners of the Rowing Champions League last year (finishing in a dead-heat with Crefelder of Germany in a time of 49.25 seconds).

The final Selected crew in the event are University College Dublin from Ireland. The Dubliners raced at the Metropolitan Regatta on and finished 4th in the Championship 4’s, 12 seconds back from the winners, Imperial College. They face the boys from Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts. The Americans have been in the UK for a couple of weeks and took 2nd in Tier 2 4’s at Marlow and then at Reading Town Regatta they were beaten by 3 lengths in IM1 4’s by Kent School.


My picks….this has the makings of a Newcastle v Imperial final, and if so I’m going for an IC win.


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