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Lucerne Rowing World Cup preview part 2 – The open-weight women

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Now time to look at the open-weight women…(the men are heavyweight but the women “open-weight”…go figure)

 

 

29 scullers

 

Great Britain’s Vicky Thornley has been the “breakthrough” sculler so far this season. She’s raced the single a bit in previous years but focussed on the double for Rio, winning a silver medal. For 2017 she’s targeting the single and has made an impressive start, winning silver at the 1st World Cup and gold at the Europeans. A close race at the 2nd World Cup with Magdalena Lobnig of Austria ended up with the Brit winning another silver. This is already the best ever season for a British woman single sculler. There was disappointment at Henley when she lost the final to Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele, although it was clear that there was a problem with Thornley’s boat as she looked distinctly uncomfortable and was having to constantly correct the steering. She’ll be hoping for a problem-free regatta in Lucerne and will be one of the favourites to take gold.

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Vicky Thornley of Great Britain and Leander

As mentioned above, Magdalena Lobnig defeated Thornley in Poznan. The Austrian is one of the most consistent scullers on the circuit, but Poznan was only the 2nd time in her senior career that she’s stood on the top step of the podium (alright I know World Rowing don’t use podiums but you know what I mean!) the only other time she’s won gold was at the European Championships in 2016.

Annekatrin Thiele of Germany is enjoying her racing in the single scull. The Olympic W4X champion won bronze at the European Championships and just missed the medals in Poznan. At Henley she had a good win against the Netherland’s Inge Janssen in the semi-final and then got the better of Thornley in the final. She’ll be looking to repeat that win in Lucerne.

Canada are making their first appearance of the season and Carling Zeeman is one of their best hopes for a medal. She won the 1st world Cup last season and followed that up with a 5th place at the 2nd World Cup and then finished 10th in Rio.

Belarus’s Ekatarina Karsten is one of the legends of the sport and she’s still winning medals at the age of 45 taking silver behind Thornley at the European Championships. She also has a 4th place this season from the 1st World Cup. She’s an amazing athlete and has been winning senior medals before a lot of her competitors were even born (or out of nappies). It remains to be seen how long she can keep going, Tokyo isn’t out of the question if she remains competitive. If she makes it, it will be her 7th Olympics.

Another “old-stager” racing in Lucerne is Russia’s Julia Levina, the 44 year old made her senior debut at the Lucerne world Cup 20 years ago in the single scull. She’s not raced so far this season so it remains to be seen if this race is anything more than an “anniversary” row.

Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin followed up a 5th place at the Rio Olympics with a great start to the 2017 season winning her 1st gold medal. Since Belgrade she’s had problems with injury and didn’t race at either the European Championships or the 2nd World Cup.

4th at the European Championships was Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark. The London Olympic silver medallist hasn’t quite recaptured her medal-winning form since returning to competition in 2014. She was 9th in Rio but her race at this year’s Europeans marked her best result since the London Olympics.

Other scullers to watch are New Zealand’s Hannah Osborne (5th at Poznan), Ireland’s Sanita Puspure (5th in Belgrade and 7TH in Poznan) and the two American scullers, Felice Mueller(4th in the W2- in Rio) and Lauren Schmetterling (Rio W8 gold medallist and 11th in the W1X in Poznan). Also watch out for the young Lithuanians Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute. They are doubling up in the W2X so it remains to be seen if they wil race the singles as well. Valciukaite won bronze in the W2x in Rio and Adomaviciute is a two-time U23 world Champion.

My picks….I think Thornley will return to winning ways with Gmelin in silver and Thiele in bronze.

W2-

13 crews

This event is rapidly becoming all about the Kiwis – Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler. They seem to have the Midas touch in this boat at the moment. They announced their intentions by winning their first race of the season in Poznan in a new world best time of 6:49.08. They then raced at Henley and were equally dominant beating their team mates in the semi-final (as an aside I believe this was the first time two siblings have faced each other at Henley) and then defeated the Americans comfortably in the final. It was a nice touch that the medals were awarded by Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, the Olympic champions and previous holders of the world Best Time.

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Grace Prendergast & Kerri Gowler of New Zealand

Runners-up at Henley and at the 2nd World Cup were the Americans, Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser. This pairing raced in the W4X in 2015 winning the world championships and then placed 5th at the Rio Olympics. The pair is their preferred boat class and they will be looking to establish themselves as the leading challengers to the New Zealanders.

The US have a 2nd pair racing in Lucerne with Vicky Opitz and Emily Regan. Regan was a member of the W8 that won gold in Rio and raced in the W8 and W4- in Poznan taking a bronze in the W8. Opitz was also in the Poznan W8 and w4-, her first appearance for the US since winning gold in the W8 in 2015.

The British, Karen Bennett and Holly Norton started 2017 with a bang, taking the gold medal in Belgrade. They followed this up with bronze at the European Championships. Illness meant they missed racing in Poznan and they didn’t race at Henley, so Lucerne will be the first time they’ve come up against the New Zealanders. An A-Final finish is the absolute minimum this crew will expect and they will be looking to make the podium.

The Danes, Hedvig Rasmussen and Christina Johansen, are the European silver medallists. Rasmussen rowed in this boat class at the Rio Olympics with Anne Andersen winning the bronze medal. For Johansen 2017 is her first international appearance since 2014 and the silver medal her and Rasmussen won in Racice was the first in her career.

Poland have a new combination for Lucerne, Anna Wierzbowska and Olga Michalkiewicz. Wiezbowska is no stranger to this boat class having raced it at the Rio Olympics with her sister Maria. So far this season she has been racing in the W4- and collected medals at both the World Cups and the European Championships. Her partner, Michliewicz won gold at the U23 World Championships last year in the BW2x and raced in the W2X at the European Championships finishing 5th.

The Netherlands, Monica Lanz & Lies Rustenburg are doubling up in the W4- in Lucerne. They raced the W4- in Belgrade winning gold and were in the W8 that won silver at the European Championships. They made their debut as a pair at the Holland Beker taking bronze on the Saturday and gold on the Sunday. They then raced at Henley making the semi-final before being comprehensively beaten by the Americans.

Katrina Werry and Lucy Stephan of Australia are also doubling up in the W4-. They opened their 2017 campaign racing in the W4- in Poznan and winning the gold. Stephan was a member of the Aussie women’s 8 that raced at the Olympics whereas 2017 marks Werry’s senior debut after winning bronze in the U23 BW2- in 2015.

My picks, based on current form no-one will get close to the no.1 Kiwi pair. The battle for the minor medals however will be fierce. I’m going for the US to take silver with the British in bronze.

 

W2X

16 doubles

This looks to be an incredibly competitive field. Once again a Kiwi crew will start as favourites.

Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe were winners at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan and followed that up with a comfortable win over the Dutch at Henley.  But the field in Lucerne is much stronger than in Poznan so they will have their work cut out to take another victory.

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Brooke Donoghue & Olivia Loe of New Zealand racing at Henley Royal Regatta

Leading the charge against the Kiwis will be the Australians, Olympia Aldersey and Maddy Edmunds. This pairing were bronze medallists at the Poznan World Cup and both have Olympic experience – Alsersey from the W8 and Edmunds the W4X.

The Lithuanians have an exciting young combination racing, Ieva Adomaviciute and Milda Valciukaite as mentioned above are also entered in the W1X. Adomaviciute makes her senior debut after winning gold in the U23 BW1x in 2015 and 2016. Valciukaite is a former World Champion in this event and an Olympic bronze medallist. This has the makings of a very fast combination.

Kristyna Fleissnerova and Lenka Antosova of the Czech Republic finished 10th in Rio but have made a good start to their 2017 campaign. Bronze medallists in Belgrade, they followed this up with a gold at the European Championships and then a 4th place in Poznan. They will be strong contenders for the podium this weekend.

The US crew of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek are making their first appearance of 2017. They have been racing together as a double since 2013 and have a number of World Cup medals and World Championship A-Final appearances to their credit. Their last race was at the Rio Olympics finishing 6th.

Another exciting young double are the Greeks, Anneta Kyridou and Aikaterini Nikolaidou. 18 year old Kyridou won silver at the 2016 Junior World Championships, and her partner Nikolaidou finished 4th in this event at the Rio Olympics. Not too much will be expected of them for their first race together in Lucerne but they are definitely ones to watch for the future.

The French double of Helene LeFebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino raced in the W4X at the European Championships finishing 5th, but for Lucerne they return to their favoured W2X event. They raced in this boat class at the Rio Olympics finishing 5th. An A-Final finish in Lucerne will be their target.

The French have a 2nd double racing, Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou. They also raced in the quad at the Europeans. They were the Olympic W2- finishing 12th.

Germany also have two doubles racing. GER1 is Carlotta Nwajide and Julia Leiding, 4th at the European Championships. Racing as GER2 are the highly experienced Julia Richter and Marie-Catherine Arnold. Richter won silver in the quad in London and spent 2015 and 2016 racing the single. Arnold raced in the W2X in Rio finishing 9th and raced the W1X at the Poznan World Cup this season finishing 10th.

Other crews to watch are the Italian European bronze medallists Kiri Tontodonati and Stefania Gobbi, and the Dutch, Marloes Oldenburg and Roos de Jong.

My picks….New Zealand to carry on their winning ways with Australia in silver and the US in bronze.

 

W4-

7 crews

Since this event got the nod from the IOC to join the Olympic programme it’s been steadily increasing in entries and standard. Whilst still not a particularly big field in Lucerne it is beginning to show the shoots of countries developing boats to build towards Tokyo.

The Netherlands were winners at the 1st World Cup but moved that crew into the W8 for the European Championships which won a silver medal. For Lucerne they are doubling-up, as mentioned above, Monica Lanz and Lies Rustenburg are racing in the W2- and their crewmates, Aletta Jorritsma and Jose Van Veen are in the W8. All four of these athletes raced at the Rio Olympics with Jorritsma in the W2- and the other three in the W8. This is a high quality line-up and it remains to be seen if the Dutch continue to double-up or if they settle on this W4- line-up.

With the Dutch not racing in Poznan it was Australia who took the gold. They are also doubling up with Lucy Stephan and Katrina Werry in the W2-. The rest of the crew are Sarah Hawe and Molly Goodman. 2017 marks the senior debut for Hawe and she won gold in the W4- and bronze in the W2- at the Poznan World Cup. Molly Goodman partnered Hawe in the W2- at Poznan and was a member of the W8 that raced in Rio.

The W4- is the sole women’s sweep entry from Canada. Their crew is a blend of youth and experience. Susanne Grainger and Christine Roper were both members of the w8 that finished 5th in Rio. They are joined by two talented former U23 internationals Hillary Janssens and Nicole Hare. These two were U23 World Champions in the BW2- last season.

Great Britain are making their first appearance in this boat class for 2017 (there is a rumour they were planning on entering the European but were told it wasn’t a championship event so didn’t only to find out later it was!) The crew is made up of a talented group of athletes, all of whom have won medals at U23 level. Holly Hill and Melissa Wilson were in the U23 BW4- that won bronze in 2015 with Hill going on to win silver in the BW8 last year. Harriet Taylor and Rowan Mckellar were both members of the BW4- that finished 4th last year but were medallists in 2015. This is very much a development boat for the British but its long term prospects look very good.

Poland raced at the European Championships taking silver behind the Romanians (who aren’t racing in this boat class in Lucerne). They also raced in Poznan finishing 3rd behind the Australians and the top American crew.

Russia have decided not to race the W8 in Lucerne and instead are racing the W4-. They have taken half of the eight that finished 3rd at the European Championships and put them into this 4-

France are the final crew racing, like the Canadians their crew is a blend of youth and experience with Pauline Bugnard and Alice Mayne who raced in the w4X at the 2015 World Championships along with Flavie Bahuaud who finished 9th in the W2X at the European Championships and 19 year old Adele Brosse who raced in the JW2- at last year’s World Junior Championships in Rotterdam.

My picks..I think it’ll be a good battle between the Australians and the Netherlands for gold and silver with the Dutch taking it. Canada and Poland will be battling for the bronze with the Canucks winning that particular fight.

 

W4X

7 crews

Germany have been a dominant force in this event for years and they took the gold medal in Rio. For 2017 they have a completely different line-up (and indeed they’ve been experimenting with different line-ups throughout the season). For Lucerne they have Daniela Schultze and Frieda Haemmerling who were in the boat that won the European Championships and Charlotte Reinhardt and Frauke Hundeling who were in the quad that finished a disappointing 4th in Poznan. Whether this remains the final line-up for the Sarasota World Championships remains to be seen. Expectations are always very high for the German W4X and nothing short of gold is acceptable.

Poland have also had a mixed season so far. The Olympic bronze medallists were a disappointing 4th at the European Championships, but followed that up with a commanding 3 second victory in Poznan. They will be starting in Lucerne as marginal favourites for the title.

The Netherlands will also be a strong contender for the gold in Lucerne. They finished 2nd at the 1st world Cup and also at the European Championships and have brought in Lisa Scheenaard to the bow seat (who won silver in the W2X in Poznan). Stroking the boat is Nicole Beukers who won silver in this boat class in Rio and behind her are Olinia van Rooijen and Sophie Souwer both of whom were in the Olympic W8. This quartet raced at Henley comfortably beating the GB U23 crew and breaking the course record.

Australia finished 2nd in their 1st race of the season in Poznan. The crew is led by Olympian Genevieve Horton and she’s backed up by three former U23 internationals. Leah Saunders (silver in the BW4X in 2015) and Rowena Meredith and Caitlin Cronin (6th in the BW4x in 2016). The entry in Poznan wasn’t the best, with just 4 boats racing and the Australians, although they took silver, finished over 3 seconds behind the Dutch. With a bigger field in Lucerne a medal will be much harder to come by. The Australians have also entered a 2nd W4X made up of their LW4X (who are also racing in that 3 boat final). A lack of entries in Poznan resulted in this crew racing in two LW2X with Alice Arch and Georgia Miansarow finishing 6th and Georgia Nesbitt and Amy James finishing 8th.

Great Britain haven’t had the best of times in this boat class in the past few years and failing to qualify for the Olympics was a major blow. A revised line-up for 2017 has made progress and a bronze medal at the European Championships was a definite step forward for the crew. However they’ve been hit by illness and injury recently which saw them withdraw from the 2nd world Cup and from Henley. For Lucerne Jess Leyden has still not recovered so her spot is taken by Alice Baatz who made her international debut racing as GBR2 in the W1X at the Poznan World Cup (just 9 months after graduating from the GB world Class Start programme). In a strong field GB will be looking to ensure they are “in the mix” for the medals although I think a podium finish will be very tricky.

The final crew racing are China. This is a young crew all of whom are making their international debuts in Lucerne. It’s always difficult to tell what sort of form these Chinese crews have – we’ll just have to wait and see!

My picks….Poland or the Netherlands for gold? I’m going to go for a Dutch win with Poland in silver and Germany in bronze.

 

W8

 

4 crews

Yet another small entry. So far this season there were 0 entries at the 1st World Cup, 5 at the 2nd and 5 at the European Championships. It will surely be concerning to FISA the lack of entries in this event – although given the complexities of putting together an 8, and the fact this is the first year of an Olympiad means it’s perhaps not too surprising.

The US aren’t racing in Lucerne – their one appearance so far this season resulted in a shock 3rd place in Poznan. In their absence the favourites are likely to be Romania. They won the European Championships in Racice and have six of the crew that won a bronze medal in Rio. The Romanians used to dominate the women’s 8 before that mantle was handed to the Americans. With such a strong crew the Romanians could become the main challengers to the US dominance.

New Zealand have a very strong crew, which row a very similar style to the Americans with a good old heave at the finish – very powerful and incredibly strong. They took the gold in Poznan and raced the Remenham Challenge Cup at Henley defeating the British by 2/3 of a length.

For their part Great Britain are in a rebuilding phase. They crew is completely different to that which won an historic silver in Rio. 4th place at the Europeans was a little disappointing but this was followed by a much better result in Poznan where they finished 1 second behind the Kiwis (and ahead of the Americans for the first time).

The Netherlands are another crew in the rebuilding phase. They did race at the European Championships finishing 2nd, but there are only 4 of that crew racing in Lucerne (including cox Ae-Ri Noort).  Aletta Jorritsma and Jose Van Veen are doubling up in the W4- and are the most experienced members of the crew having both raced in Rio. The crew also includes three of the crew that won bronze in the w4- at the Europeans, marleen Verburgh, Lisanne Brandsma and Willeke Vossen.

My picks. It’s hard to see anyone beating the Romanians, they are the most experienced of all of the crews. But, the battle for the silver and bronze is going to be really tight. The Kiwis have the edge, having beaten the British in Poznan and Henley, but the margins are getting closer. I think the Kiwis will just pip the British for the bronze.

 

 

 

 

Lucerne Rowing World Cup preview part one – the heavyweight men

2015 World Rowing Cup III In Lucerne - Day One

 (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

It’s been a busy few weeks since the last world Cup in Poznan, first there was the Holland Beker and then last week the wonderful Henley Royal Regatta. But now focus switches back to the Rowing World Cup circuit and the traditional series finale on the Lake of the Gods in Lucerne.

For many rowers the Rotsee is their favourite race venue, crystal clear waters, mountain scenery and (usually) good weather make for fabulous racing conditions. Also as the last major regatta before the world Championships it tends to attract the best entry of all the World Cups.

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The beautiful lake Rotsee in Lucerne

So, without further udo on to the preview….

 

M1X

36 scullers

A huge field with all the big names scheduled to take part. Lucerne sees the first meeting between the new World Best Time holder, Robbie Manson of New Zealand and the reigning European champion, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek raced at the Holland Beker two weeks ago and beat Damir Martin by over 3 seconds. Manson was entered in the Diamonds at Henley but had to withdraw on the eve of the regatta due to a rib injury. He’s said he should be fit for Lucerne but we’ll have to wait and see if he’s fully race fit again.  If they are both at their best we could see some fireworks. Synek must be sick of the sight of Kiwi scullers – he probably thought that with Mahe out of the picture he’d have a clear run to the World title!

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Ondrej Synek

But, the M1X isn’t just about Synek and Manson. Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez was 2nd to Manson in Poznan and on hid day could be challenging for more medals in Lucerne. Damir Martin’s season has quite been as spectacular as 2016 – so far…runner-up in Belgrade and the European’s he was a somewhat disappointing 6th in Poznan. As mentioned above he was 2nd best to Synek at the Holland Beker. With the increase in the standard of competition in Lucerne he may struggle to make the podium (or even the A-Final).

Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg has made a great start to his first full season in the single – gold at the first World Cup was followed by a bit of a dip at the Europeans where he was 8th, but then bounced back at the 2nd World Cup taking the bronze medal behind Manson & Fournier Rodriguez. The whole Swiss sculling team are on a high at the moment under their new head coach Robin Dowell.

Another sculler having a great season is GB’s Tom Barras. In his first season as a senior international he’s won a bronze subbing into the M4X at Poznan and also taken 4th at the Europeans (also as a sub in the M4X). In his first senior race in the M1X in Poznan he took an excellent 5th. The 23 year old is on a steep learning curve in the single, and if he could make the A-Final in Lucerne it would be a massive achievement.

Another young sculler making a big impact is Germany’s Tim Ole Naske, the 21 year old U23 World Champion has made the A-Final at both the Europeans and Poznan. He had an outstanding junior and U23 career winning every race he entered, he’s not been able to carry that level of success into the senior ranks yet but I get the feeling it’ll only be a matter of time before he’s on the podium (which may come sooner if he’s moved into the GER M4X).

The Lithuanians have been mixing and matching their scullers during the season, for Lucerne Mindaugus Griskonis moves out of the M2x, the boat he won Olympic silver and gold in Belgrade this season, and into the M1X. He raced in this boat class in 2015 and the first half of 2016 winning bronze in 2015 and silver at the 2016 European Championships. We’ll have to wait and see what his form is in the single.

Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk makes his debut appearance for 2017 now that his studies at the University of California, Berkeley have finished. He’s spent most of the season in the Cal Varsity 8 but now switches his attention back to the single in preparation for the World Championships in Florida. He did the same in 2016 and finished an excellent 7th in Rio and then took silver at the U23’s behind Ole Naske.

Other scullers to watch out for are Belorussia’s European bronze medallist, Stanislau Shacharabachnia, Azerbaijian’s Aleksandar Aleksandrov (6th at the Europeans) and Russia’s Vladislav Rybacev (6th in Belgrade).

My picks…this should be an absolute cracker between Synek and Manson (if fit). If Manson is anywhere near the form he showed inn Poznan he will be difficult to beat. New Zealand for gold with Synek in silver. The bronze, however, is really up for grabs….Fournier Rodriguez will be the favourite but Griskonis may well snatch it.

 

M2-

18 crews

This will be one of the most eagerly anticipated events for one reason alone – the first appearance of the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia. Their debut in the M2- has been long –awaited ever since they announced their intention to change boat class after winning gold in the M2X in Rio. So far they’ve raced once, winning comfortably ahead of two Turkish pairs at the Croatian open, but Lucerne will be their first test on a full international stage. Videos of them in training certainly promise much, they look to have a wonderfully smooth and powerful style, but will that translate into the sort of dominance they commanded in the double?

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The Sinkovic brothers – can they be as dominant in the M2- as the M2X?

The other pair making their season’s debut are the New Zealand no.1 pair of James Hunter and Tom Murray. They have the unenviable task of taking over from the “Greatest pair in the world” TM Their debut has been somewhat delayed due to injury, but the word coming out of New Zealand is that this pair are very, very fast. Hunter has switched from the lightweight team (where he finished 5th in the LM4- in Rio) and Murray has moved across from the M8 that finished 6th in Rio.

The French Onfroy brothers are going into Lucerne on a high having won the Silver Goblets at Henley dispatching the Italians in the semi and a very experienced Australian pair in the final. That victory followed a win at the Poznan World Cup and a silver medal at the Europeans. They will not be fazed by the appearance of the Croatians and New Zealanders and will be looking for the win.

Canada’s men’s team make their first appearance of the season in Lucerne. Their pair is Kai Langerfeld and Will Crothers. These two spent the Rio Olympiad as part of the Canadian M4-, a boat which never really reached its potential. It remains to be seen if they have more success in the smaller boat.

As mentioned above, the Italians – Guiseppe Vicino and Matteo Lodo – were beaten by the French at Henley, reversing the result from the European Championships.  They will be looking to gain revenge on the six-lane course of the Rotsee.

The Czech Republic’s Jakub Podrazil and Lukas Helesic are another pair who’ve made a good start to their 2017 season, with a bronze at both world Cups and a 4th place at the Europeans. An A-Final finish will be the minimum they expect in Lucerne.

Other pairs to watch are the young Australians, Ben Coombs and Nathan Bowden (4th in the M8 in Poznan) and the British, Tim Clarke and Tom Ford (who were both in the M8 that won silver in Belgrade). Also watch for the Dutch pairing of Bo Wullings and Dick Uittenbogaard.

 

My picks….New Zealand or Croatia? Both massively talented, both untried this season…..I’m going for a Croatian win with the Kiwis in silver and the French in bronze.

 

M2X

23 doubles

Another huge field with some intriguing entries. The Kiwis, John Storey and Chris Harris were winners at Henley and also in Poznan. They will head to Lucerne as the favourites for the event and are firmly installed as favourites to take gold in Florida at the World Championships.

Chasing them will be the Norwegians, Olaf Tufte and Kjetl Borch. The Olympic bronze medallists have raced once so far this season, taking a silver medal behind the Kiwis in Poznan.

One of the most intriguing entries are the Canadians, Conlin McCabe and Matt Buie. McCabe raced in the M4- during the last Olympiad and has never raced internationally as a sculler. Buie has raced almost exclusively in the M4X. To put these guys together in the M2X is an interesting move, but it remains to be seen how effective it is. The Canadian men’s team had a torrid time throughout the Rio Olympiad and it remains to be seen if they continue with the development of small boats or return to their traditional stronghold of the M8. This pairing will either be inspired or a disaster.

The Poles finished 3rd at Poznan, but for Lucerne they have reverted to the line-up that won silver at the European Championships; Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup. Both of these two were in the M4X that finished 4th in Rio.

4th in Poznan were the Australians, Luke Letcher and David Watts. Watts raced in this boat class at the Olympics finishing 7th and was in the quad that won silver in 2015. Letcher made his senior debut in Poznan having won U23 gold in the BM4x last year. This is an exciting mix of youth and experience and could well make the podium in Lucerne.

The Bulgarians, Georgi Bozhilov and Kristian Vasilev, are one of the few crews that have raced at both World Cups and the Europeans. The Olympic B-Finalists have made the A-Final each time they’ve raced so far this season but have yet to make the podium.

The Italians, Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi are the European Champions, but they suffered a shock defeat at Henley being comprehensively beaten by their lightweight team mates. It remains to be seen what impact that loss will have on them (not much I suspect).

Switzerland will be looking for a strong performance on home waters and their double of Barnabe Delarze and Romain Roeoesli will be strong contenders for a medal. They were both in the M4X that finished 7th in Rio and so far this season have picked up a silver medal in Belgrade and a bronze at  the Europeans.

Other doubles to watch out for are the Dutch, Amos Keijser and Stefan Broenink and the young British crew of Nick Middleton and Frazier Christie.

My picks….Another Kiwi win ahead of the Italians with the Norwegians in bronze.

 

M4-

19 crews.

This looks all set for another GB v Australia showdown. The Australians got the better of the British at Poznan but it was a much improved performance from GB after a woeful display at the Europeans. A commanding victory by the Brits over the Italian European Champions at Henley will have boosted their confidence heading into Lucerne. Speaking to the crew before the final they were concerned about their relative slow start (and the traditionally fast start that the Italians have), but on the day the British produced a superb race and the Italians were never in it. If they can carry that confidence into Lucerne then they will definitely be contenders for the gold.

Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club, winners of the Stewards' Challenge Cup #HRR17.jpg

The British M4- winners of the Stewards Challenge Cup at Henley

The South Africans made their season’s debut at Henley and gave the British a tough race in the semi-final before the power of the British enabled them to pull away over the 2nd half of the course to record a win by over 2 lengths. But, as an opener it was a strong performance by South Africa and they will undoubtedly be faster in Lucerne.

The French were 4th at the Europeans but suffered a shock defeat at Henley when they were comprehensively beaten by the British U23 crew. They will, undoubtedly, be better in Lucerne but that sort of defeat is never good to take (it does go to show what an outstanding U23 crew the British have as well).

The Netherlands didn’t race at the 2nd World Cup but at the 1st World Cup in Belgrade they finished 2nd to the British and at the Europeans they were 6th. 3 of the crew raced in this boat class at the Olympics finishing 5th.  They will be targeting a podium placing in Lucerne.

Russia have tweaked their line-up from the crew that finished 3rd at the Europeans, with only Gregorii Shchulepov remaining. He’s joined by three members of the M8 that finished 4th at the Europeans, Ivan Podshivalov, Alexander Kulesh and Ivan Balandin.

There will also be an interesting little side battle of the 2nd boats with the Australians, Belarussians, British and Dutch all fielding a 2nd crew – there will be a certain amount of bragging rights to the country that has the highest placed number two crew.

Also watch out for the Spanish who had a superb race in Belgrade to take the bronze medal.

My picks….I think it will be really close between the Aussies and Brits (again). The British never do particularly well at Lucerne and I think the Aussie’s will just get the better of the British (by a few feet at most) with the Italians salvaging some pride from Henley by taking the bronze.

 

M4X

12 crews

The British will be heading into Lucerne on a high having won at Henley breaking the course record that had stood since 1989. This followed a win at the 2nd World Cup. They will be starting in Lucerne as one of the favourites to make the podium.

But, the main threat to the British will be the Lithuanians. They have raced twice so far this season and have won twice taking gold at the first World Cup and the European Championships.  The British beat the Lithuanians in Rio but so far in 2017 its 2-0 to the Lithuanians – albeit with a slightly different GB line-up. The likely showdown between the British and Lithuanians should be fascinating.

The Dutch have raced both World Cups and the European Championships making the A-Final at each regatta. 5th at the first World Cup and 6th at the Europeans. At the 2nd World Cup they had a much stronger performance taking the silver medal 2.5 seconds behind the British.

Italy have a mix of youth and experience, with Olympian Romano Battisti joined by three athletes making their senior debuts this season. They’ve raced once this season taking a strong 3rd place at the European Championships.

The Norwegians took 5th at the European Championships but followed that with a bronze medal at Poznan. The crew of Martin Helseth, Erik Solbakken, Jan Helvig and Nils Jakob Hoff missed out on qualifying for Rio last year but have made a much stronger start to 2017. An A-Final finish would be a good result for them.

Other crews to watch out for are the French, 4th at the 2nd World Cup and Poland who were 5th in Poznan.

My picks….Lithuania just to pip the British with Italy in 3rd.

 

M8

10 crews.

Germany will start as the overwhelming favourites in Lucerne. The Deutschlandachter set the rowing world alight in Poznan when they set a new World Best Time for the M8 of 5:18.68. They made the trip to Henley with the express purpose of gaining revenge for the defeat by the British in 2015. This they did in some style first of all dispatching the Kiwis in the semi-final and then the British by 1 length in the final.

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The German M8 

For their part the British won’t be too disappointed with the result in Henley, given what a young crew they are and the fact that there isn’t a single member of the Olympic gold medal crew remaining. It shows what strength in depth Jurgen Grobler and Christian Felkel have at their disposal. They are definitely playing the long game and with a number of injured or previously unavailable athletes beginning to come back into the team the boat will go from strength to strength.

The Dutch have two crews entered, The no.1 boat is the crew that finished 3rd at the European Championships and includes 7 who raced at the Rio Olympics (5 of whom win bronze in the M8). The no.2 boat are the Dutch U23 crew including 3 of the boat that won the 1st World Cup and has 7 of the crew that won the U23 World Championships last year.

I said in my preview for the 2nd World Cup that I thought this Kiwi boat was the best New Zealand M8 since the early 1980’s. In their first appearance of the season they delivered a strong performance taking silver behind the Germans, their best performance since the 1983 World Championships. They came to Henley to challenge the British and Germans. The draw pitted them against the Germans who beat them by ¾ of a length. Like the British, the Kiwis are a young crew and are beginning to deliver on the promise they showed in winning the U23 World Championships in 2015. They may not best the Germans in Lucerne but by the time Tokyo comes around they will be a formidable force.

Australia have rebuilt their M8 following a disappointing Rio Olympiad which saw them fail to Qualify. The 2017 M8 made a solid start to their campaign with a 4th place at the Poznan World Cup. Like the British and New Zealanders this crew will only get faster as they develop and build towards Tokyo.

Unlike the Aussies and British, Poland is a long established crew, 5th at the Olympics they’ve made a mixed start to 2017, 4th of 4 at the 1st World Cup they won silver at the European Championships  then they were 5th in Poznan. The main problem with the Poles is always one of consistency, on their day they are capable of taking medals but too often they are at the back end of the A-Final. It remains to be seen which crew turns up in Lucerne.

Russia are another crew that blow hot and cold. 3rd at the 1st World Cup they took bronze in a 4 boat race and followed that with 4th at the European Championships. They skipped Poznan and will be looking for a strong result in Lucerne. However given the strength of the competition they will have their work cut out to make the A-Final.

The other crews racing are the Romanians (6th at the Europeans) and the Italians (8th in Racice).

My picks, Germany are the overwhelming favourites but the battle for silver and bronze will be very tight between the Dutch, Kiwis and British. I’m going to plump for a Dutch silver and a British bronze.

There is also a M2+ event in Lucerne with 3 crews, Australia, Germany and Spain. The Aussies have Ben Coombs and Nathan Bowden who both raced in the M8 in Poznan. Germany have Malte Grossmann and Rene Stueven – 10th in the M2- in Poznan. For Spain the crew is Jaime Lara Pacheo and Marco Sardelli Gil who were both in the M8 at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta.

 

Henley Royal Regatta preview part 6 – The junior events

 

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passions run high in the junior events. Photo: Getty

Time has pretty much beaten me I’m afraid. So my preview of the junior events is going to be somewhat curtailed.

Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup

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The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup

Holders: Eton College

This has the makings of one of the best Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cups for years, the champions of Great Britain, the USA and Australia are all racing. The top half of the draw is massively stacked with St Pauls, Scotch College and Eton College.

Scotch College are the Australian schoolboy champions, they raced at the Holland Beker last weekend finishing 2nd in the JM8 to the Dutch junior national squad. The posted a time of 5:40 which is brisk for any crew let alone a junior boat. They face St. Georges in the first round, winners of the 1st Fours at the National Schools.

St Pauls are the reigning British National School’s Champions. Bobby Thatcher has put together an outstanding unit. They made the final of Championship 8’s at Marlow Regatta finishing 6th (beating the Elizabethan Ladies Plate crew in the process).

Eton are the reigning champions and have half of that crew returning. At the National Schools Regatta they finished 2nd to St Pauls by under 2 seconds. With coach Alex Henshilwood stepping down from his position as head coach to become a Housemaster a victory in his last race would be a fitting send off.

Gonzaga from the USA will also be confident of doing well in the bottom half of the draw, they finished 4th at the Youth Nationals – this is particularly noteworthy as they were the best placed school, the top three were all from youth club programmes.

Radley College have a habit of peaking just at the right time for Henley. They finished 5th at the National Schools but Master in charge of Rowing and former Olympian Sam Townsend, has changed the line up and have found more speed in the last few weeks and finished 4th in Tier 2 8’s at Marlow.

The top US school racing are Montclair from New Jersey. They’ve had an undefeated season so far this year winning the Stotesbury Cup, Scholatics and the National Schools Championship Regatta.

My picks…any one of St Pauls, Eton, Scotch, Montclair or Gonzaga could win this. One of the best races could be a potential semi-final between Eton and St Pauls, whoever wins that will win the title. I’ve a sneaky feeling Eton will make it 5 wins in 9 years.

 

The Fawley Challenge Cup

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The Fawley Challenge Cup

Holders: Claires Court Boat Club

8 Selected crews in this event, all of whom get a bye through the first round. The first Selected crew are San Diego Rowing Club USA. They last raced at Henley in 2015 losing to finalists Nottingham in the early stages. At the Southwest Youth Championships they finished 3rd in the M4X.

Leander are the next Selected crew, 2nd at the Schools Head, 2nd at the National Schools they will be looking to go one better at Henley and take their first win in the event for 15 years

Malvern Prep from Pennsylvania were losing finalists in this event back in 2003. The 2017 crew arrive in Henley on the back of a win at the SRAA Championships.

Windsor Boys are possibly the favourites in the event. Finalists in two of the last three years. Winners of the National Schools Regatta in both the Champ quads and the Champ doubles. They’ve raced for GB at the Munich Junior Regatta and the European Junior Championships.

In the lower half of the draw the first Selected crew are the defending champions, Claires Court. 4th at the National Schools but have been improving since then with a win at the Metropolitan Regatta.

Globe are the next Selected crew, 5th at Wallingford followed by 2nd at the Met and 3rd at Marlow. A potential quarter final against Claires Court beckons.

Maidenhead are the 3rd of the Selected crews in the bottom half of the draw. Winners at the Schools Head of the River was followed by silver at the National Schools and a win at Marlow. The way the draw is looking they will be favourites to reach the final.

The last of the Selected crews are The Tideway Scullers. A number of this crew have been involved with the GB system at the Munich Junior Regatta and placed 3rd at the Metropolitan Regatta and 5th at Marlow.

My picks I’m going to plump for a Windsor v Maidenhead final with Windsor taking the win

 

The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup

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The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup

Holders: Gloucester

4 selected crews out of the 16 crews in the event. The first of the Selected crews are also possibly the favourites, Gloucester. They won Junior quads at Henley Women’s Regatta and were 4th at the National Schools.

The 2nd Selected crew in the top half of the draw are the biggest threats to Gloucester, Headington School. They won by 10 seconds at the National Schools Regatta and raced in the Senior Quads at Henley Women’s Regatta, just losing out in the final to Tideway Scullers.

Henley are the first of the Selected crews in the bottom half of the draw. Henley have an outstanding junior programme and were the first winners of this event back in 2012. 2nd at National Schools they made the semi-finals of Henley Women’s Regatta.

The final Selected crew are Latymer Upper. Bronze medallists at the National Schools Regatta, they lost to Gloucester in the quarter finals of Henley Women’s Regatta.

Outside of the selected crews the ones to watch include Beckett School – 5th in Champ 4X at National Schools Regatta. Also watch out for Isle of Ely, finalists at the Henley Women’s Regatta.

My picks…a potential Headington v Gloucester semi looks to be a potential classic, whoever wins that will take the title. I’m going for a win for Ryan Demaine’s girls from Headington.

 

So that’s it. My apologies the school events have been a bit cursory, but time has run out.

I hoe you’ve enjoyed reading my previews, judging by the number of hits they do seem quite popular. Now to sit back and enjoy the racing and if you see a slightly frazzled Fatsculler at the regatta, and you’ve enjoyed reading these blogs maybe you could buy me a pint!!

Henley Royal Regatta 2017 preview part 5 – The student events

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

 

The Temple Challenge Cup

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Henley Royal Regatta 2017 preview part 4 – The club events

 

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Time now for the one’s everyone’s interested in…the men’s club events.

 

The Thames Cup

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The Thames Challenge Cup

Holders: Molesey Boat Club

 

The Stewards have picked out 8 crews to be Selected, four from the UK two from Germany and one each from Norway and the USA.

In the top half of the draw the first of the selected crews are Thames Rowing Club “B”. It’s a mark of the strength in depth of the Putney club that they have qualified three boats in this event and two of them have been selected. The “B” crew raced on both days of the Metropolitan Regatta finishing 4th in the Tier 2 8’s on the Saturday and following that up with 2nd place in the “C” Final of Challenge 8’s on the Sunday. They also raced at Marlow finishing 3rd in Tier 2 8’s – crucially being the fastest club eight in the race (losing to Oxford Brookes and Imperial College). Looking at the draw they face City of Oxford on Wednesday and the winner of Kingston & Molesey on Thursday. Having beaten both of these crews already this season the Thames boys will be confident of reaching Friday’s quarter finals.

If Thames do reach the quarter-finals they will most likely face the 2nd of the Selected crews in the top half of the draw, Ruder Club Allemania von 1866, Germany.  The German’s have a number of U23 internationals on board including Peruvian Nicolas Pezet at bow. He raced in the U23 BM1X at the 2016 World Championships. At 4 is Gregory Schaltegger who was the spare for the 2014 U23 team. At 7 is Jonas Briese – who made the A-Final in the BLM2- at the 2013 World Championships.

The third Selected crew in this half of the draw are London Rowing Club. Since the war London have won this event 6 times but the last was back in 2006. They’ll be desperate to make it number 7. But, they face a really tough challenge on Wednesday when they face Agecroft. Both of these boats raced in the B-Final of Champ 8’s at Marlow with London emerging victorious by just 0.2 second. It could be too close to call between these two and London could well be the first Selected crew to fall.

The final selected boat in the top half of the draw is Riverside Boat Club from Boston Massachusetts. In the words of one club member this crew is “the fastest eight the club has ever had”. At the Head of the Charles last October this crew finished 5th in the Club 8’s events. Henley has been their main focus for the season and will be disappointed if they don’t make it through a few rounds. They have drawn Tideway Scullers on Wednesday and will be confident of progressing.

In the bottom half of the draw the first of the selected crews are RTC Bayer Leverkusen, Germany. Five of this crew reached the final in 2015 losing to Thames Rowing Club. The returning members are Dominik Drueke, Thorsten Jonischkeit, Dominic Imort, Fabian Weiler and Fabien Wimberg.

The next Selected crew are Leander Club. This is the Pink Palace’s development 8 although sitting in the 6 seat is Paralympic gold medallist James Fox. They raced at the Metropolitan Regatta finishing 7th and then at the Champ 8’s at Marlow Regatta they finished 5th.

The next Selected crew are the Norwegians from NSR Oslo. The Norwegians made the final of the Thames Cup last year and have half of the crew returning – Petter Tufte, Hallvand Bjorkeland, Markus Holmemoe & Enn Sture. At the recent Nordic Championships Tufte and Matti Saborowsky won the M2-.

The final selected crew are Thames Rowing Club “A”. Thames won this event for the first time since the war in 2015 and will be the favourites from the home crews for the title. So far this season they raced at the Metropolitan regatta finishing as the fastest club in 5th. At Marlow they were also the fastest club finishing 4th in the Champ 8’s.

Fastest of the non-Selected crews could well be the New Zealanders from Avon Rowing Club. At the New Zealand Championships in February they won the Club 8’s. Half the crew also won the Club 4+. They face Cantabrigian on Wednesday and then a possible match up against Riverside on Thursday.

As mentioned above, Agecroft could cause the Selected London Rowing Club some difficulties in the first round.

Molesey are the defending champions and this year’s crew raced in Tier 2 at Marlow finishing 2nd in the B-Final.

My picks…I think this could well be an Avon v Thames final with the honours going to Thames.

 

The Wyfold Challenge Cup

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The Wyfold Challenge Cup

Holders: Grasshopper-Club, Zurich, Switzerland

8 crews have been selected for the Wyfold Challenge Cup. In the top half of the draw the first of these is London Rowing Club. They last won this event in 2011. This year’s crew of Matt Cummings, Nick Parnell, Stephen Griffiths & Dom Parnell raced on both days of the Metropolitan Regatta taking 3rd place on both days.  They also raced in the final of Champ 4- at Marlow Regatta finishing 5th.

The 2nd of the Selected crews in the top of the draw is Sydney Rowing Club, Australia. The Sydney-siders are regular visitors to Henley and won this event in 2009. Their crew for 2017 is Max Brenner, Clinton Boltman, Jack Quinn and Nick Clifton. They raced the U23 BM4- at the Holland Beker last weekend finishing 3rd of the 3 crews. Back in Australia they four of them were members of the Sydney M8 that won silver in the Men’s Club 8’s at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta. They also picked up a silver medal in the club 4’s event.

The third of the Selected crews in the top half are The Tideway Scullers School. All highly experienced Henley competitors with Nathan O’Reilly, Lloyd Seaman, Will Fields and Murray Wikojc. They finished in 5th place in Champ 4-‘s on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta and then 4th at Marlow half a second behind Sport Imperial and only half a second ahead of London.

The final Selected crew in the top half are the Dutch from K.A.R.Z De Hoop. This crew have been targeting this event all season and have put together a strong-looking bid. At bow is Frank Verschoor who raced in the Temple Challenge Cup for Nereus, losing the final in both 2010 and 2011. At 2 is Dom Meyrick-Cole – he raced as part of the Nereus “Oude-Vier” in 2015, but illness kept him out of the boat for Henley. At 3 is Marlou Kamphuis from Groningen, a winner of the Head of the Amstel. Stroking the boat is Mathew Kleine Punte, another Nereus alumni who rowed in the Temple finals in 2010 and 2011. As a four this season they have a 2nd place at the ZRB Regatta and won the Thetis sprint, defeating the Dutch U23 crew in the process.

In the lower half of the draw the first of the selected crews are Mercantile from Australia. The crew includes Andrew Burke and Angus Maloney who were part of the M8 that won the U23’s at the Australian Championships. Joining them in the crew are Tom Hunt and Callum Nott.

The next selected crew are Sport Imperial – possibly the leading home crew in the event. The crew of Sam Butler, Matt Pointing, Josh Butler and Matt Whaley raced to a 4th place at the Metropolitan Regatta and 3rd at Marlow – in both cases they were the leading Wyfold eligible crew. The margins between them and the likes of Tideway Scullers and London may be small, but those wins will give them the edge in a match race.

The 3rd Selected crew in the lower half of the draw are the Irish from Commercial Rowing Club – Colm Dowling, Michael Corcoran, Fionnan Groome & Shane MacEoin. Corcoran raced for Trinity College, Dublin in the Prince Albert last year losing in the heats.  Dowling, Groome & MacEoin have all represented Ireland at the Home International Regatta and last season Dowling and Groome were in the Commercial crew that won Senior 8’s at the Irish Championships – setting a new record in the process.

The final Selected crew in the event are Thames Rowing Club.  Another crew of seasoned Henley campaigners with James Palmer, Will Downey, Luke Wertheim and Harry Dorrance-King. They raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 6th in the Champ 4- A-Final. If the Selections pan out as intended by the Stewards they should meet the Irish on Friday.

Outside of the Selected crews the ones to watch include the Norwegians from Christiana Roklub, 8th in Ghent and including Nikolai Jorgensen who rowed for London RC in the Britannia Challenge Cup in 2013, and Kristoffer Lorentzen who raced for Norway at the 2013 Universidad.

Another crew to watch are City of Bristol. The West Country club are developing into a force to be reckoned with in that part of the world and have successfully qualified 2 boats for the Wyfold. The boys from Bristol docks in the “A” crew are having an excellent season finishing 3rd in the B-final of Champ 4’s at Marlow and 2nd in Tier 2 at the Metropolitan. As a Bristolian myself I’ll be cheering them on in their tough 1st round race against Maidstone Invicta who themselves were winners of Tier 4 4-‘s at the Metropolitan.

Maidenhead are another one to watch, finishing 2nd & 3rd in the Tier 3 events on both days of Metropolitan Regatta. They have drawn Radley Mariners in round one and will be confident of progressing to a likely meeting with Thames on Thursday.

The final crew to mention are Northwich – Joe Anderson, Finn Lawton, Harry Taylor and George Lawton. They won Tier 3 4- at the Metropolitan Regatta and Tier 2 at Marlow. George Lawton raced for GB last year at the Junior World Championships. The draw gives them a potential meeting with London on Thursday, and the Selected Londoners will have a real fight on their hands to progress.

 

My picks….really tricky….I think we will have a K.A.R.Z De Hoop v Sport Imperial final with the Imperial boys just sneaking it.

 

The Britannia Challenge Cup

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The Britannia Challenge Cup

16 crews in this event of which half are deemed worthy of “Selection”. In the top half it’s Thames Rowing Club that are the first Selected crew. They probably earned the Selection nod from the Stewards after a strong performances at Marlow Regatta, finishing 5th in the A-Final of Champ 4+. This followed a good regatta at the Metropolitan with a 2nd place in tier 2 on Saturday, losing to National University Ireland, Galway and a win in Tier 2 on Sunday. Thames face Wallingford in round 1, a crew they have beaten a number of times this season so will be confident of progressing.

If successful against Wallingford, Thames will face the winner between Agecroft and the 2nd Selected crew The New York Athletic Club, USA.  The New Yorkers are Bucknall graduates Veton Celaj and Connor Corwen along with Colby College’s Noah Teachey and Dan Curtis. At the Head of The Charles Regatta NYAC finished 4th in the Club 4’s. They face a tricky contest against Agecroft in round 1, they finished 2nd in Tier 4 at the Metropolitan Regatta and will be a good test for the Americans.

The 3rd of the selected boats in this event are Kingston Rowing Club. Kingston have won this event twice, the last time being 1978. This season they raced at Ghent May Regatta finishing 5th and also finished 5th in Tier 2 4+ at the Metropolitan Regatta. They have a tricky first round match-up as well, facing the Norwegians from N.S.R Oslo. This boat includes former Harvard oarsman and Australian U23 international Ed Northorp. He’s joined by Norwegian U23 international and Henley finalist Ole Bang-Andreason. Also in the crew is former Brazilian junior international Francisco Mendes. The Norwegians are probably unlucky not to have been Selected themselves and could well be too quick for the Kingstonians.

The final Selected crew on this side of the draw are the Australians from Sydney Rowing Club. Sydney won this event in 2015 and could go far again this year. The crew includes University of California, Berkeley graduate Michael Bernerius, he raced at U23 level in 2013 finishing 4th in the BM4+. Also in the crew is Henley finalist Charles Patterson, he was in the crew that were beaten in the quarter finals of the Prince of Wales Cup in 2014 and then in the Wyfold crew that lost to Petone of New Zealand in the heats. In the three seat is William O’Connell, he was a member of the Sydney Rowing Club crew that finished 2nd in Club 4-‘s at the Sydney International Regatta. They face Southampton Coalporters in the first round and will be confident of progressing to face either Kingston or Oslo in the 2nd round.

In the bottom half of the draw the first Selected crew are the Bostonians from Riverside Boat Club, USA. At the Head of the Charles this crew finished 6th in the Club Fours, 30 seconds behind NYAC. This crew includes Alex Barat, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and now assistant coach at Clark University and James Primes of Boston College. They are drawn to meet qualifiers Stratford-upon-Avon in the first round and then (assuming they are victorious), the winner of St. Andrew Boat Club from Scotland and Club De Nautique, France. St. Andrews are the selected crew and have raced a number of times in England, at the Metropolitan Regatta they picked up a 2nd place in Champ 4’s on the Saturday and 5th in Tier 1 on the Sunday. At Marlow Regatta they finished 1st in the B Final of Champ 4’s. This crew includes U23 international Graham Ord who was 9th in the BM2- at last year’s World Championships.

The next Selected crew are the 2nd Australian crew in the event, U.T.S Haberfield. This crew were winners of the Open Club 4+ at the Australian Championships and last weekend raced at the Holland Beker finishing in 3rd behind the NYAC Visitors 4.

The final selected crew are Molesey, who last won this event in 2008. This year’s crew raced in Tier 1 at the Metropolitan Regatta finishing 4th, but were the first of the Britannia Cup eligible crews. It was a similar story at Marlow Regatta where they finished 4th in the Champ 4+ event but were the highest placed Brit crew. They face a tricky first round tie against the Germans from R.T.C  Bayer Leverkusen.

My picks…it’s a very open field, the top half of the draw is especially stacked with Thames, Sydney, NYAC and Oslo. I’ve a feeling we may see a Molesey/Thames final and I’m going for Molesey for the win.

 

Henley Royal Regatta 2017 preview part 3 – The Intermediate events

 

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Time for part three of my Henley Preview…the men’s Intermediate events….

 

The Ladies Plate

This has the makings of one of the most exciting (and intriguing) events at the regatta,

Newell Training Centre USA and Mosman Roiwng Club Australia

Despite the name this is basically Harvard University. It’s a combination of their 2nd and 3rd Varsity 8’s. From the 2nd Varsity crew that finished 5th at the IRA Championships is Chase Bucholz, Jack Kelley & Henry Kennelly. From the 3rd Varisty 8 which won a silver medal in their division at the IRA’s is Max Ferguson, Australians David Fleming and Dom Glover, and Estonian Juri-Mikk Udam. The final member of the crew is Philip Bates who stroked the Varsity IV to a 7th place at the IRA’s.

 

RTHC Bayer Leverkusen, Germany

This boat has three senior internationals on board, Peter Kluge won a bronze medal in the M2+ at the 2014 World Championships and along with Clemens Ernsting raced the M2- at the 2016 European Championships. Clemens won a silver medal in the M2+ at the 2015 World Championships. Stroke man Bjoern Birkner raced in the M4- at the 2014 World Championships finishing 8th. Also in the crew are U23 internationals Max Niemand and World U23 silver medallist Felix Niemand.

German crews in the Ladies Plate are always strong and this boat looks like it could do very well.

 

Army Rowing Club

A strong army contingent, but they may find the competition a bit too hot. The crew includes Ollie Pemberton, a member of the Coldstream Guards and coach of the J15’s at Abingdon School. Former Henley winner and Wingfield Sculls competitor Capt. Laurence Wells, and former Newcastle University rower Richard Francis.

 

Brown University, USA

From Providence, Rhode Island, this crew is unchanged from the line-up that raced at the IRA’s finishing 6th in the Grand Final. The crew includes Rufus Biggs from Great Britain in the 2 seat and Kiwi Russell Dodd at bow. Coached by Brown alumni Paul Cooke the crew also finished 6th at the Eastern Sprints.

 

Dartmouth College, USA

The 2nd Ivy League Varsity in the event, Dartmouth College from Hanover, New Hampshire. Dartmouth finished 3rd in the Petite Finals at the IRA’s. At the Eastern Sprints they had a much better regatta finishing 5th, 2 seconds ahead of Brown. When they faced Brown in their Dual Meet the “Big Green” took the win by just under 1 second. If the gods of the Henley draw are kind we could see round 4 between these closely matched crews. Coached by Olympic champion Wyatt Allen, Dartmouth have only one overseas athlete in their boat, Albert Mitchell from Great Britain.

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Dartmouth College – The “Big Green”. Photo: Dartmouth College

Elizabethan Boat Club

Nominally the old boys club for Westminster School, this crew is made up entirely of students who are studying at either Harvard or Princeton (with the exception of new Cambridge President Hugo Ramambason in the coxes seat). From the Princeton heavyweights are George Bradbury, Fred Vystavel, Franco D’Agostino and Oswald Stocker. From the Princeton lightweights are Cam Kerr, and Oskar Arzt-Jones. From Harvard are heavyweight Nick Plaut and his lightweight brother James.

This boat (with one change) raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 7th in the final of Open M8.

 

Molesey Boat Club and Leander Club

This is the Great Britain U23 crew for the World Championships in July. A couple of things of note with this crew, the first is that the British Rowing press release names Rufus Biggs in the 4 seat….given Mr Biggs is rowing at 2 in the Brown Varsity boat that could prove problematic! No word yet about who is replacing Biggs in this crew. The other interesting point to note is that the same said press release lists the clubs to which the athletes belong…..except they don’t, five of the crew (including Biggs) are current students at university in the US, but the rules for British Rowing (not Henley) state that to be selected to represent your country you have to be a member of a mainland UK club…cue a few “flag of convenience” clubs on the entry forms!

Anyway….in the crew are Oxford Blue Wll Geffen (racing in London RC colours), U23 bronze medallist Alistair Douglass (Molesey), George Stewart (Molesey), A.N.Other replacing Biggs, David Bewicke-Copley – an U23 silver medallist and member of the Princeton Varsity 8 that finished 4th at the IRA’s (racing as Sport Imperial), Jack Gosden-Kaye from the University of California, Berkeley (racing as Leander), David Ambler and Arthur Doyle from Harvard (racing in Tideway Scullers and ULBC colours respectively). Coxed by Ian Middleton of Cambridge.

 

Oxford Brookes University and Taurus Boat Club

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Oxford Brookes & Taurus BC, winners of the Grand Challenge Cup at Marlow Regatta.

The fastest crew in Britain….and that’s not just an opinion…it’s a fact. At Marlow Regatta Brookes won the Champ M8 in a time of 5:30. Not only was this a course record at Dorney Lake for a non-International crew, it is also the fastest 2K ever by a British club crew. Oxford Brookes have dominated the men’s 8 category all season and have won pretty much everything all season. Coach Henry Bailhache-Webb has put together an outstanding unit with 8 of the 9 crew members having GB U23 representative honours. At bow is Robbie Massey, 13th in the BM4X in 2014. At 2 is Oxford Blue Josh Bugajski (an U23 international from 2012), at 3 is Rory Gibbs, 4 is Matt Aldridge and 5 is Michael Glover – all three of these guys were in the 2016 U23 BM4+ that finished 5th last year. In the 6 seat is Morgan Bolding from the 2015 U23 BM8 and at 7 is a crewmate from that U23 crew, Henry Swarbrick. Stroke is James Stanhope who is, currently, the only member of the crew without a GB vest. In the coxswains seat is Harry Brightmore who steered the U23 BM4+ last year. A number of this crew won an epic Temple Challenge Cup last year against Nereus and 5 of this crew are still eligible for the U23’s. The draw has a potential final between Brookes and the nominated GB U23 8…now that (if it happens) will be worth watching!

Team Keane Sculling School

Team Keane are a fairly new club based in Chiswick who described themselves as “West London’s Top Rowing Club”. This year’s crew had originally wanted to enter the Thames Cup but fell afoul of the eligibility criteria and found themselves bumped up to the Ladies Plate.  The crew are all members of various Oxford University colleges and are stroked by 2016 Blue George McKirdy. Also in the crew is Canadian Jacob Cushnie, a Columbia graduate who raced at the World University Games. Behind Cushnie in the 5 seat is Benedict Aldous from this year’s Isis crew. They raced in the Tier 2 M8 at Marlow Regatta finishing in 7th.

My picks….this looks to be one of the most outstanding events in the regatta. The draw is likely to pit Brookes against either Dartmouth of or Bayer Leverkusen in the semi-finals with the GB U23’s likely to face Brown in the other. I’m really excited to see just what Brookes can do when really pushed. A showdown in the final between Brookes and the GB U23 crew could have chief coach Pete Shepherd sweating a little! Brookes are such a tight cohesive unit I think it’ll take something special to beat them.

 

The Visitors Challenge Cup

The Stewards have “Selected” 7 of the 17 crews.

In the top half of the draw the first of the selected crews are Edinburgh University. In the stern pair are Calum Irvine and Rufus Scholefield. Irvine won a silver medal in the U23 BM8 last year and Scholefield finished 5th in the same event the year before.  This duo were also in the coxed 4 that won at BUCS Regatta. In the bow pair are Oliver Wilkes and Matt Christie. This crew won the open 4- at the Scottish championships earlier this month.

The next Selected crew in the top half of the draw are the New York Athletic Club, USA. This crew is another example of a US Ivy League School racing under different club colours. In this instance the guys are all from Northeastern University. The bow pair of Phoenix Susak and Australian Texas Lawton raced in the 2V at the IRA’s finishing 11th. The stern pairing of Aaron Goodman and Trevor Appier raced in the 1st Varsity at IRA’s that finished 1st in the Petite Final (7th overall)

The third of the Selected crews in the top half are Cambridge University. This is half of the Cambridge Blue Boat crew from this year, 3 of whom are graduates from US Ivy League Universities. At bow is Canadian Aleksander Malowany, a graduate of the University Of Washington with three IRA titles to his credit. At 2 is American Pat Eble, a Princeton graduate. In the three seat is triple Blue, American Ben Ruble a graduate of Wisconsin. At stroke is the only non-North American in the crew, Freddie Davidson.

The final Selected crew in the top half of the draw are the French from Aviron Grenobles.

4th at the recent French Championships, this crew has senior lightweight international Francois Marty at stroke. Behind him in the 3 seat is three-time U23 international Hugo Laborde.  In the 2 seat is a double U23 international, Jean Noury and in the bow seat is Loic Lezarme.

In the bottom half of the draw the first of the Selected boat is Boston University. A truly cosmopolitan line-up (as are most US Collegiate crews these days) this boat has an Englishman, and Irishman a German and a Canadian – sounds like the beginnings of a very bad joke! The Englishman is Luke Towers, a junior World silver medallist from 2015 and member of the 1st Varsity crew that finished 10th at the IRA’s. In the 2 seat is Jacob Barker from Victoria Canada, he’s another member of the 1st Varsity boat and raced in the U23 BM4+ at the 2016 World Championships. In 3 is Fionnan McQuillan-Tolan from Galway in Ireland, the third of the 1st Varsity rowers in the boat. In the stroke seat is Germanys Nils Kocher, he raced in the 2nd Varisty 8 that finished 6th at the IRA’s and is a junior world champion from 2016.

The next selected crew is Leander Club, This has been one of the outstanding M4- on the domestic scene. They produced an excellent performance at Marlow winning the Champ 4- in a very impressive 5:55. At bow is GB Start graduate, Barney Stentiford an U23 international from 2013. In 2 is Finn Stevenson, a winner in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup last year, he’s made fast progress in the sport having only started in 2014. In 3 is Sam Twine, a graduate of Reading University (where he still coaches) a winner of the Champ 1X at the BUCS regatta and also competed at the European Universities Championships. At stroke is George Rossiter (brother of Matt who is in the top GB M4-) A graduate of Newcastle University he’s represented GB four times at U23 level winning medals in 2011 and 2012. He was a member of the Leander Ladies Plate crew that won at last year’s regatta

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The Leander Club Visitors 4 with coach Matt Beechey. Photo: Leander Club

The final Selected crew are California Rowing Club, USA

Sitting in the stroke seat of this crew is Scotland’s Andrew Holmes.  As a Senior at Harvard in 2014 he stroked the Varsity 8 winning the Eastern Sprints and winning the annual Harvard v Yale race.

In the three seat is Channing Walker from the University of California, Berkeley who raced in the Cal 3rd Varsity 8 at the IRA’s in 2016.

At 2 is John Madura a graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He raced for the USA at the 2015 World Championships finishing 12th in the M4X.

At bow is Conor Harrity, a member of Harvard’s 1st Varsity crew that won bronze at the IRA’s this year.

Among the non-Selected crews the ones to watch are the Germans from R.C Allemannia von 1886. This crew includes Rio Olympian Tobias Franzmann who finished 9th in the LM4- and two-time lightweight World Champion Can Temel. Sitting in the stroke seat is U23 lightweight silver medallist Sven Ditzel.

Also watch for the crew from Taurus Boat Club. Joseph Mallen, Arthur Arnould, Ed Grisedale and Richard Hawkins. This crew was originally entered in the Britannia Challenge Cup, but the Stewards ruled that they were ineligible and were bumped up to the Visitors (losing their cox en-route). At Marlow Regatta they finished 3rd in the Champ 4+

Cornell University have brought a crew containing two of their 1st and 2 of their 2nd Varisty rowers. Canadian Alexander Bebb and New Zealander James Aimer were in the 1st Varsity 8 that finished 12th at the IRA’s and Americans Mac Manion and Chris Wilkins came from the 2nd Varsity that finished 10th.

My picks…I’m going to plump for a home win from Leander.

 

The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup

Just 4 crews have received the preferential nod from the Stewards and been selected.

The first selected crew in the top half of the draw are Molesey Boat Club. With club stalwart and multiple Henley Winner Dave Bell in the two seat. He leads a young talented quad with 18 year old Rory Harris at bow, a member of the GB junior team last year. At three is another junior GB trialist, Cormac Molloy from Tiffin School and in stroke is 19 year old former Hampton pupil Dom Jackson. Jackson rowed in the GB JM8 at the 2016 Junior World Championships that won the bronze medal. He’s also the current junior lightweight 5K ergo world record holder.

This crew won the Champ 4X event at Marlow by nearly 4 seconds ahead of Leander.

 

The 2nd Selected crew in the top half of the draw are Leander “A”. A Leander crew has been in the final of this event for the last 11 years, winning 8 of them (including 6 in a row between 2010-2015). After last year’s defeat to a crew from Schuylkill Navy Leander are anxious to get back to winning ways. This year’s no.1 boat will start as favourites. The crew of Harry Leask, Rowan Law, Harry Glenister & Andy Joel won the Queen Mother Challenge Cup last year so it’s quite unusual for the same crew to step down a level at Henley. One wonders if there was some debate between the Stewards and Leander coaches about perhaps the defending champions competing in the Open event again this year?

They are an outstanding unit, 5th at the U23 World Championships last year, the GB team decided to give them a taste of senior competition at the 1st World Cup in Belgrade this year. Racing as GBR2 they finished in 4th place beating the Netherlands and Estonia. They warmed up for Henley with a good win at the Holland Beker defeating the US senior men’s quad from the Schuylkill Navy

 

In the bottom half of the draw the first Selected crew are Edinburgh University. This is another outstanding young crew, winners of the Champ 4X at the Metropolitan Regatta. At bow is James Temple, he raced the LM1X at the European University Championships last year. At two is Josh Armstrong, the 19 year old is one of the most exciting talents in British rowing. He raced at his first senior international competition at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan posting an excellent 11th place finish. At three is Matt Curtis, an U23 world champion in the BLM4X in 2016.  Stroking the boat is another highly talented sculler, Gavin Horsburgh. He was another member of the gold medal U23 BLM4X crew from last year and was a last minute replacement for the 2nd GBR Quad that raced at the Poznan World Cup, finishing just behind the heavyweight New Zealand quad in 8th place. If the draw plays out the way the Stewards have planned we should see a Leander v Edinburgh final which should be an epic battle.

The last of the Selected crews are the Leander “B” quad.

This crew has a Kiwi stern pair with Braeden Camp at 3 and Oliver Stephens at stroke. Camp was a member of the Kiwi junior team last year that finished 4th in the JM8. Stephens raced in the U23 BM4X at the 2016 World Championships winning a silver medal. In the bow pair are two experienced GB lightweights. In the bow seat is Jon Jackson, a two-time bronze medallist in the U23 BLM4- and in front of him at 2 is Charlie Waite-Roberts, an U23 silver medallist from 2014 and who raced in the senior LM4X at last year’s World Championships. This crew raced at Marlow finishing 2nd to Molesey.

Of the non-Selected crews, the ones to watch include Nottingham & Agecroft. This crew were third at Marlow Regatta and also picked up 3rd place at the Holland Beker this weekend.

Christiana Roklub, Norway will be another crew to watch, they include former junior international Johannes Groseth at bow and U23 international Halvor West at 2.

Reading University have two crews in the event, the “A” crew were winners of thee Tier 2 quads at Marlow and two for the crew (Simon Williamson and Franklin Hamilton were in the quad that finished 5th at the BUCS regatta). The Reading “B” crew also raced in tier 2 quads at Marlow finishing 5th.

The Bath University & Bath Minerva composite raced in the Champ 4X event at Marlow finishing 2nd in the B-final. One place ahead of Bath was the Eton College & Burway Rowing Club composite.

 

My picks…this should develop into a Leander v Edinburgh University final. If it does this should be one of the highlights of Sunday’s racing, I think Leander will take their 7th win in 8 years.

Henley Royal Regatta preview part 2 – The Open Women’s events

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This year sees three new Open women’s events added to the regatta programme – the W2-, W2x and W4X. So far they have no trophy names but I’m sure that will change in the next couple of years.

 

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup

Holder: Lisa Scheenaard, Hollandia Roeiclub,

 

Judith Anlauf – Ruder-Club Süderelbe v.1892 e.V., Germany

Silver medallist in the LW4X at the 2016 World Championships. Anlauf was Germany’s representative in the LW1X at the 2015 World Championships where she finished 6th and won bronze at the European’s earlier that year.

 

Jennifer Cleary – Mercantile Rowing Club, Australia

A member of the Australian W4X during the Rio Olympiad that finished 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. At the Rio Games they had a slightly disappointing regatta being the one crew in a 7 boat event that failed to make the A-Final.

 

Inge Janssen – Hollania Roeiclub, Holland

A two-time Olympian, Janssen raced in the W2X at the London Olympics finishing 8th. 4 years later in Rio she was a member of the W4X that won a silver medal. She has won championship medals in the W1X with a bronze at the 2013 European Championships. So far this season she has a gold and silver medal from the 1st World Cup in the W2X and W4X. At the European Championships she was a member of the gold medal winning W4X. She will be one of the favourites for the title.

 

Kirsten McCann – University of Pretoria, South Africa

Another two-time Olympian, McCann raced in the LW2x at the Beijing Games finishing 14th. She took a break from international competition after Beijing to focus on her studies, but returned for the Rio Olympiad forming an effective partnership with Ursula Grobler. They won bronze in 2015 and then just missed the medals in Rio finishing 5th in the Final.

 

Hannah Osborne – Waiariki Rowing club, New Zealand

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From Te Kuiti in New Zealand’s North Island, Osborne made her senior international debut at the Poznan World Cup this year. She raced in the W1X and finished a strong 5th.

 

Annekatrin Thiele – Sport-Club Deutsche Hochschule für Körperkultur Leipzig, Germany

Yet another two-time Olympian, Thiele won silver in the W4X in London. She remained in the quad for the Rio Olympiad winning gold at all three World Championships and then culminating in gold in Rio.

For 2017 she’s moved into the single and took silver behind GB’s Vicky Thornley at the European Championships and 4th at the Poznan world Cup.

 

Vicky Thornley – Leander Club

The 5th Olympian in the event (and the 4th Two-time Olympian) Thornley will start as favourite for the title. She’s had an outstanding season so far in 2017 with silver at both the 1st and 2nd World Cups and gold at the European Championships. That gold medal made her the first British woman to win a senior open-weight single scull championship. After the difficulties of 2016 that so nearly had a fairy-tale ending she looks to be relishing the freedom of racing the single scull. The Princess Royal Title would be a fitting reward and set her up brilliantly for the rest of the season.

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Three scullers progressed from the Qualifying races on Friday:

Camilla Plumb – Peterborough Rowing Club

A GB trialist and runner-up in the Senior LW1X at Henley Women’s Regatta and 4th in elite LW1X at Notts City. She’s currently on a sports scholarship at Leicester University reading Law.

 

Pippa Whittaker – Imperial College

A former member of Leander Club, Whittaker won the W1X at the Home International Regatta in 2013 and went on to race in the W4- at the World University Championships in 2014 winning the gold medal. She also raced at the 2014 Commonwealth Regatta winning both the W1X and the W2X. 2017 will be her third time of racing in this event, in 2013 she lost to Mirka Knapkova and the year before to Sanita Puspure of Ireland.

Sophie Connolly – Leicester Rowing Club.

3rd in the elite W1X at Notts City regatta and she reached the quarter finals of Senior 1X at Henley Women’s Regatta.

 

My picks – I’m going for a home win for Vicky Thornley

 

W2-

8 crews

The Stewards have attracted a world class field to inaugurate this event.

Sam Courty & Carragh McMurtry – Bath University and Southampton Coalporters Amateur Rowing Club

Sam Courty was a member of the GB U23 squad in 2014 and 2015 having only taken up the sport 2 years earlier as part of the GB start talent identification scheme. During her two years in the U23’s she won silver in the BW8 and followed that with a bronze in 2015 in the BW4-. In 2016 she raced at the World University Championships winning a bronze in the W2- with Anastasia Chitty. This season she steps up to the senior squad and is the spare for the W8.

Another product of one of GB’s talent Identification schemes – Project Oarsome. Caragh McMurtry won bronze in the senior W8 at the European championships and followed that with silver in the U23 BW2-. In 2014 she won another senior medal taking silver in the W8 at the Europeans and finishing 6th at the world Championships. In 2017 she returns to the W8 and finished 4th at the Europeans before taking a superb silver medal at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan.

 

Kirstyn Goodger and Jackie Gowler – Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand

The spares for the New Zealand women’s squad, Goodger and Gowler raced as the 2nd New Zealand W2- at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan finishing 5th. Goodger is a graduate of the University of Washington with whom she won a silver medal in the 1V at the PAC-12 Championships and also competed in the Windermere Cup in 2014 for UW beating the GB W8. Back in New Zealand she rowed in the women’s Premier Eight event at the National Championships taking the gold medal.` Her partner, Jackie Gowler made her senior debut at the Poznan World Cup after two years on the U23 team which saw her finish 5th in the BW8 in 2016.

 

Alexandra Hagan & Rosemary Popa – Banks Rowing Club, Australia

Hagan raced in the W8 at the London Olympics finishing 6th. In 2013 she won gold in the U23 BW4-. She raced in the w8 throughout 2014 and 2015 and was part of the crew that had a late call up to the Rio Olympics following the exclusion of the Russian team.

Popa has dual US/Australian citizenship and during her time at the University of California, Berkeley she represented the USA at the U23 World Championships and also for the senior US team at the Sydney World Cup in 2014. She also won gold in the Varsity 8 at the PAC-10 championships in 2011. Racing for Australia, she finished 8th in the W8 at the 2015 World Championships. Both her parents are Olympic medallists from the 1984 Olympics, her mother in the W4+ and her father in the M8.

 

Natalie Hardy & Lowenna Coad – Thames Rowing Club

One of the strongest lightweight club pairs in the country, Hardy and Coad won Tier 2 w2- at the Metropolitan Regatta and went on to claim the Elite LW2- title at Henley Women’s Regatta.

 

Megan Kalmoe & Tracy Eisser – New York Athletic Club, USA

Kalmoe is a three-time Olympian with a 5th place in the W2X in Beijing, a bronze in the W4X in London and 5th in the same boat class in Rio. In 2014 she raced in the W2- with Kerry Simmonds and won a silver medal. A graduate of the University of Washington she was recently inducted into the NYAC “Hall of Fame”. In 2017 she’s racing a pair again, this time with Tracy Eisser. In their first international outing they took a silver medal at the Poznan World Cup.

Eisser, a graduate of Cornell, began rowing in 2008 after a successful career as a junior track and field athlete, winning the High Jump at the New Jersey state Campionships. She made her international rowing debut in 2014 winning silver in the W4X at the Aiguebelette World Cup and followed that with a bronze medal at the World Championships. In 2015 she was a member of the W4X that won the World Championships, and was a crewmate of Kalmoe’s in the Olympic quad in Rio.

 

Monica Lanz & Lies Rustenburg – Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland

Both Lanz and Rustenburg are members of the Dutch W8 that finished 6th at the Rio Olympic Games. Lanz started rowing at the age of 12 and is a member of the USR Triton Club. She was a member of the W8 that won silver at the 2015 and 2016 European Championships. So far this season she has a gold medal from the W4- at the 1St World Cup and a silver medal from the W8 at the European Championships. Her partner, Lies Rustenburg from the AASR Skoll club was also in the silver medal winning W8 in 2015 and 2016. She raced in the W2- with Jose Van Veen at the 1st World Cup taking a silver medal and was in the W8 that took silver at the Europeans.

 

Grace Prendergast & Kerri Gowler – Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand

Grace Prendergast of the Avon Club in Christchurch, and Kerri Gowler of the Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club won their first senior World title in 2014 winning the W4-. In 2015 they doubled up in the W2- and W8 winning silver in both events. At the Rio Olympics they were both part of the W8 that just missed out on the medals.

For 2017 they have moved back into the W2- and stunned the rowing world by smashing the World Best Time whilst winning the Poznan World Cup. They have always been an outstanding pairing but often had to play 2nd fiddle to the dominant British pair. With the British Olympic champions now disbanded the Kiwis look set to become the dominant force in this boat class.

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Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand – the worlds fastest W2-

Alice White & Myriam Goudet – Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club

Alice White and Myriam Goudet were both members of the Cambridge Blue Boat this year, White sitting in the 6 seat and Goudet at 7. White raced for New Zealand at the 2011 Junior world Championships winning a bronze medal in the JW4-. In 2015 she represented GB in the U23 team winning a bronze medal in the BW8. A graduate of UCLA where she rowed in the Varsity 8 at the PAC-12 Championships.

Frenchwoman Myriam Goudet is a graduate of Imperial College and won her first Blue in 2016. She represented France in the W8 at the 2009 and 2010 European Championships, winning a silver medal in 2010. She was a member of the w4X that missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics when finishing 3rd at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta.

 

My picks….no-one will get close to the Kiwis.

 

W2X

Claire Bove & Laura Tarantola  – Club France

A new, talented young crew, Claire Bove and Laura Tarantola raced for France at the European Championships in Racice finishing 5th in the LW2X. At just 19 years old Bove went straight from the Junior team in 2016 to the seniors this year. Tarantola, from Grenoble, made her senior international debut in 2015 racing in the LW2X at the European championships. Later that year she raced in the U23 BLW4X that won silver and then raced the LW2X with Camille Leclerc at the World Championships finishing 19th.  She missed out on qualifying the W4X for the Olympics but finished the year with a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships.

 

Roos De Jong & Marloes Oldenburg –  Hollandia Roeiclub

De Jong raced at the European Championships in the W1X winning the B-Final to claim 7th place overall. 2017 is her first year in the senior team following a bronze medal at the 2015 U23 World Championships. She made her debut at the 1st World Cup in the W2X with Kirsten Wielaard finishing 6th of a field of 6 (including 3 Dutch boats).

Oldenburg, from the A.G.S.R Gyas club made her international debut last year at the 1st World Cup in Varese winning a silver medal in the W2X with Lisa Scheenaard. This duo just missed qualification for Rio. So far this season she and Scheenaard picked up a silver medal behind their team mates at the 1St World Cup and then another silver behind the Poles at the European Championships.

 

Brooke Donoghue & Olivia Loe – Wairariki Rowing Club, New Zealand

Donoghue started rowing in 2010 at Te Kauwhata College and within 2 years was National Champion in the U18 W1X. She raced in the Junior team in 2013 making the A-Final in the JW4X. In 2014 she progressed to the U23 team winning a bronze in the BW4X and followed that up in 2015 with a silver medal in the BW2X. She made her senior debut in 2016 in the W4X that missed qualifying for Rio finishing 3rd at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta.

Olivia Loe, from the Avon Rowing Club in Christchurch, on silver in the U23 BW4- in 2014. In 2015 she was named as the spare for the senior sculling squad and went on to be the spare for the W4X as they tried to qualify for Rio.

This duo formed a new double for 2017 and made an outstanding start to their season winning gold at the Poznan World Cup in a time of 6:39.13 – just 1.8 seconds outside the World Best Time.

 

Georgia Francis & Alice Baatz – Imperial College and Agecroft Rowing Club

Both Georgia Francis and Alice Baatz made their senior international debuts this season. 22 year old Francis spent three years as part of the British U23 squad, winning a silver medal in her first appearance in the BW8 in 2014. In 2015 she raced the U23 BW2X with Mathilda Hodgkins Byrne finishing 4th and then in 2016 she was in the U23 BW4X that finished 8th. This season she has stepped up to the senior team and raced the W2X at the European Championships with Emily Carmichael winning the B-Final to claim 7th overall. At the 2nd World Cup in Poznan they slipped back to 8th out of a field of 8.

Baatz started rowing at Bangor University and moved to Manchester University to combine her studies with training at Agecroft Rowing Club with the GB World Class Start programme under the guidance of coach Hamish Burrell. 9 months after graduating from Manchester University she made her senior international debut racing in the W1X at the Poznan World Cup. For Henley she swaps seats with Emily Carmichael to race the W2X in what looks to be a very exciting combination.

 

Jordan Cole-Hossain & Suzi Perry – Thames Rowing Club

1st and 2nd in the Tier 2 W1X at the Metropolitan Regatta, with Perry also finishing 3rd in the Elite LW1X. As a double they raced at the Ghent Spring Regatta picking up a silver medal in the W2X behind Molesey.

 

 

Katinka Ernst & Giedre Rakauskaite – Worcester Rowing Club

This pair finished 1st in the D-final of the W2X at the British Championships last year securing them the Club Shield. Ernst is a student at the University of Worcester and coach for Disability Sport Worcester. Lithuanian-born Rakauskaite is head coach at Hereford Cathedral School and in 2016 won W4X at the Lithuanian National Championships. She’s currently part of the GB Para-Rowing development squad for the Legs, Trunks and Arms squad.

 

Isabel Lingard & Oluwaseun Olusanya – University of Exeter

Lingard represented Exeter University at the BUCS Regatta in 2016 and 2017. In 2016 she reached the final of the Championship Lightweight 1X and this year won gold in the Championship Lightweight 4X. In 2016 she finished 1st in the B-Final of W2X at the British Championships.

Olusanya stroked the Exeter W8 at the British Championships winning the University shield.

 

Laura Macro & Steph Clutterbuck – University of Bath

Winners of the senior W2X at Henley Women’s Regatta. Laura Macro won gold in the Lightweight Intermediate 1X at the 2016 BUCS regatta and is a member of the GB development squad.

Steph Clutterbuck raced in the W1X at Notts City regatta picking up a silver medal.

 

My picks…It should be a great battle between the Dutch and New Zealanders, assuming they are on opposite sides of the draw. I’m going for a Waiariki win.

 

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Women’s Fours

 

Buckingham Rowing Club & Mercantile Rowing Club, Australia

This crew contains one senior Australian international, Meaghan Volker, who raced in the W8 at the Rio Olympics. She’s joined by two former U23 internationals, Kate Michelmore and Addy Dunkley-Smith. Michelmore raced in the U23 BW8 that finished 5th last year and Dunkley-Smith won bronze in the BW2- in 2015. The fourth member of the crew is Kate Rowan, who represented Australia in the W2- at the World University Rowing Championships last season.

 

Club France – France

At bow in this crew is Flavie Bahaud from Lyon, she made her senior debut this season racing in the W2X at the European Championships finishing 9th. At 2 is Adele Brosse 5th who will celebrate her 19th birthday during the regatta, she raced in the JW2- last season finishing 5th. In the stern pair are Pauline Bugnard and Alice Maine. They raced in the senior W4x at the 2015 world Championships finishing 10th.

 

Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland

This has the looks of the potential Dutch U23 BW4- for the world Championships in July. Three of the crew (Karolien Florijn, Ymke Clevering & Veronique Meester) raced in the Dutch W8 that won silver at the European Championships. The fourth member of the crew sitting at bow is Elsbeth Beeres who raced for the Netherlands in the W4- at the World University Championships.

 

New York Athletic Club – USA

A bit of a USA “All-Stars” boat led at bow by double Olympic Champion Susan Francia. In front of her at 2 is Rio Olympic gold medallist Kerry Simmonds and at stroke is Olympian Felice Mueller. Sitting at three is 2015 world Champion Olivia Coffey. So just the 3 Olympic golds and 10 World titles in this crew!

 

Oxford Brookes & Melbourne University, Australia

Another “All-Stars” crew, all of whom raced at the Rio Olympics and all four were part of the inaugural EY Women Athletes Business Network Intern Program.

At bow is Wianka van Dorp of the Netherlands who raced in the Dutch W8 that finished 6th at the Rio Olympics. At two is Great Britain’s Olivia Carnegie-Brown from the silver medal Olympic W8. Sitting at three is Australia’s w1X Olympic champion Kim Brennan and steering the boat in the stroke-seat is Grace Luczak who finished 4th in the W2- at Rio. Hopefully the two “All-satrs” crews will be on the opposite sides of the draw as a potential final between these two boats should be great to watch.

 

Vesper Boat Club & Princeton National Rowing Association, USA

Another US boat packed with 1 Olympic gold and 7 World Championship golds between them.. At bow is Grace Latz, from Jackson, Michigan was a member of the W4X that finished 5th in Rio and a world Champion in this boat class from 2015. At 2 is Molly Bruggeman, a silver medallist in the W4- in 2015. At 3 is University of Wisconsin graduate Victoria Opitz, she is a three-time World Champion in the W8 from 2013-2015. Sitting at stroke is Olympic champion Emily Regan. From Buffalo in New York she has three World titles and one world silver medal to her credit as well. This quartet raced at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan in the W8 and the W4-. In the W8 they suffered a rare defeat finishing 3rd (the first loss for a US W8 since the Sydney World Cup of 2013 and the worst performance at an FISA regatta since 2005). As a W4- they didn’t really fare any better finishing 5th out of 6 crews.

 

Newcastle University

Winners of the Sen 4- at Henley Women’s Regatta. At bow is U23 silver medallist Emily Ford. In front of her at 2 is world Junior silver medallist Lola Anderson. At 3 is Frances Russell who was 4th in the JW4- at last year’s Junior worlds and in the stroke seat is Nicole Lamb a double U23 medallist with silver in the BW8 in 2014 and bronze in 2015. They were winners of the Tier 2 4- at the Metropolitan Regatta.

 

Ohio State University, USA

The Ohio State Buckeyes. This crew reached the semi-finals of elite 4-‘s at Henley Women’s regatta, losing to Durham University .The crew of Allyson Baker, Sarah Peffley , Annie Jachtuber and Maddie raced in the 2nd Varsity crew that won silver at the NCAA Championships last year and finished 4th in 2017.

 

My picks…the draw should lead to a NYAC v Brookes/Melbourne final which should be a great display in the first year of the event. I’m going to go for a win by the New Yorkers.

 

 

Princess Grace Challenge Cup

 

Calgary Rowing Club

A Canadian club crew with University of Calgary graduate Kierstan Mort at bow. She raced in the LW2X at the Canadian University Championships finishing 7th. At 2 is Tessa Vanderveeken, a personal trainer and former varsity rower at Ithaca College.  In the 3 seat is Gillian Cattet from Saskatchewan and winner of a silver medal in the W4- at the Canada Games in 2013. In the stroke seat is University of Victory graduate Alexandra Marchuk. This crew were finalists at Canadian Henley in 2015 and 2016

 

Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland

The Dutch national W4X and favourites for the event. This crew raced at the 1st World Cup and the European Championships winning a silver medal on both occasions. At bow is Lisa Scheenaard from Eindhoven, in 2014 and 2015 she was the Netherlands representative in the W1X finishing 14th and 15th respectively. In the 2 seat is Olivia Van Rooijen. In 2016 she raced in the W8 that finished 6th at the Olympic Games and in 2015 was also in the W8 that came 6th. In the 3 seat is a crewmate from the Olympic W8, Sophie Souwer. Souwer doubled up in the W2X at the first World Cup winning gold. She will celebrate her 30th birthday on Regatta Thursday. At stroke is Olympic silver medallist Nicole Beukers. She raced the quad throughout 2015 and 2016 winning bronze at the World championships and silver in Rio.

 

Nottingham Rowing Club & Warrington Rowing Club

This is the Great Britain U23 W4X and the 4th of the crews to be pre-qualified. At bow is Saskia Budgett of The Tideway Scullers School, 4th in the U23 BW4- last year. In the 2 seat is Kyra Edwards from Nottingham Rowing Club who raced in the GB U23 BW4X last season finishing 2nd in the B-Final. In the 3 seat is fellow Nottingham Rowing Club member Anna Thornton, she is an U23 silver medallist from the BW8 last year. In the strokeseat is 19 year old Lucy Glover, a silver medallist in the JW4X last year.

 

The Tideway Scullers School

The Tideway Scullers have had an excellent season so far with wins at Ghent, the Metropolitan Regatta and finally the Senior W4X at Henley Women’s Regatta.

 

Oxford Brookes University “A”

Losing semi-finalists in the Senior W4X at Henley Women’s Regatta and 2nd to the Tideway Scullers at the Metropolitan Regatta.

 

Reading University “A”

4th at the British University Championships, two of the crew, Lucy Ryan and Lou Grove won bronze in  the Championship Doubles at BUCS.

 

University of London

Winners of the Champ 4X at the BUCS regatta and 4th at the Metropolitan regatta. At Henley Women’s Regatta they lost in the Quarter Final of Senior 4X to the eventual winners Headington School.

Wallingford Rowing Club & Agecroft Rowing Club

This crew contains 2 of the U23 BLW4X that finished 6th at the U23 World Championships last year, Ellie Lewis and Mary Wilson

 

My picks – it’s a real shame that the GB W4X have withdrawn as it looked to have been a great battle between them and the Dutch. In their absence I can’t see anyone beating the Dutch.

 

 

The Remenham Challenge Cup

Calgary Rowing Club – Canada

An impressive club crew from Canada. In 2016 they became the first crew to win back to back titles in both the W8 and W4- events. They have totally dominated the domestic scene in Canada going undefeated for 2 ½ years. Jessie Loutit and Amelie Schumacher won bronze at the 2016 Canadian National Championships with team mates Kasia Gruchella-Wesierska and Colleen Nesbitt finishing one place behind them.  At the Recent Canadian National Team Trials three pairs from this crew finished in the top 10, it’s only a matter of time before the majority of this crew gain senior international honours.

 

Cambridge Rowing Club, New Zealand

From Lake Karapiro – I have to admit I’ve not been able to find any information on this crew!

 

Edinburgh University

This crew raced as a Senior 4- and 4X at Henley Women’s Regatta with the W4- of Gray, Blake-Parsons, Stevenson & Somerside losing in the semi-finals to Imperial College. The W4X of Currie, Rodahl, Buchan and Rankin also bowed out at the semi-final stage losing to the Tideway Scullers.

 

Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland

The Dutch national squad. They’ve made a few changes to the crew that won silver at the European Championships with the bow four now containing the W4- that won bronze – Willeke Vossen, Marleen Verburgh, Annemarie Bernhard and Lisanne Brandsma. There is also a change in the stroke seat with Olympian Kareian Robbers replacing Monica Lanz. Remaining from the silver medal crew are Jose Van Veen at 5, Aletta Jorritsma at 6 and Kirsten Wielaard at 7. Jorritsma raced in the W2- (with Robbers) at Rio and won gold in the W4- at the 1st World Cup. Jose Van Veen was also in the gold medal winning W4- in Belgrade and was also in the W8 that finished 6th in Rio.

 

Leander Club & University of London

The Great Britain senior women’s 8. They have made two changes to the crew that won a superb silver medal at the 2nd World Cup in Poznan with Anastasia Chitty and Fi Gammond coming in for Karen Bennett and Caragh McMurtry. The British have been making get strides in what is a very young crew. There isn’t a single member of the crew remaining from last year so the coaches have had to build the boat from scratch. Built around the successful U23 W8’s of the past couple of years this boat has a huge amount of potential. Their race at the European Championships was the first time a GB W8 has beaten the US since the World Championships in 1997.

 

Molesey Boat Club

Winners of the Championship 8’s at the Metropolitan Regatta. Stroked by two-time U23 medallist Katie Bartlett with fellow U23 silver medallist Ruth Whyman in the six seat.

 

Ohio State University

Winners of the Elite 8’s at Henley Women’s Regatta in a new course record. The Ohio State Buckeyes finished 7th at the NCAA Championships. They’ve made just one change from their NCAA crew with Morgan Hummel moving up from the 2V. As is the way with both men’s and women’s US Varsity crews, the Buckeyes have a strong foreign contingent in the boat. In the bow pair are Anne Dietrich from Germany and Alice Riley from New Zealand. Dietrich represented Germany at the 2012 and 2013 U23 World Championships winning a silver and bronze respectively. In the stern pair are two Australians from last year’s U23 BW8 – Rachel Engel and Stephanie Williams.

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Ohio State University – record holders at Henley Women’s Regatta. Photo: Rowing Related

University of London & Imperial College

This is the Great Britain U23 BW8 for the World Championships in mid-July. This crew has three of the team that won silver at last year’s World Championships – Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne, Heidi Long and cox Sasha Adwani. Alos in the crew are Cambridge Blue Thea Zabell and University of Virginia Varsity rower Ellie Stewart (although for obscure technical reasons she’s listed as a member of the University of London). This crew had their first run out at Henley Women’s regatta where they lost to Ohio State. Hopefully the draw brings these two crews back together for a rematch.

 

Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand

The Kiwi national team. In their first outing of 2017 they took gold at the Poznan World Cup 1 second ahead of the British.  The Kiwis have 5 of the crew that finished 4th in Rio along with Lucy Spoors and Georgia Perry from the W4x that missed qualification for Rio and the final member of the crew is Ashlee Rowe an U23 bronze medallist from 2014. They will start as favourites for the title but it’ll be a really good battle between them, the British and Dutch.

My picks….I’m going for a Dutch victory by about half a length over the British.