Henley Royal Regatta 2022 - Review

Henley Royal Regatta 2022 - Review

Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup Review

Lining up on the blocks, you could see the tension between these two highly esteemed crews building ahead of the battle that was about to occur. Straight off the start, Radley used their advantage of the better water to edge ahead slightly. As they moved out of the island, St Paul’s began to lengthen and began edging away from Radley through the Barrier. Both crews settled onto strong striding rhythms, but St Paul’s managed to gain more cover by conserving more momentum in the hull. Through the middle part of the race, St Paul’s began to take more seats up on Radley. Through the enclosures, Radley began to creep back on St Paul’s as both crews upped their rates for their final sprint. It was all or nothing through Stewards’, but it looked like St Paul’s just managed to hold the charge of Radley enough to take the victory by 1/3rd of a length across the finish line. Arguably the race of the day.

Fawley Challenge Cup Review

This single-school final offered a relaxed start to the day, with a straightforward chain of events leading to Windsor Boys’ ‘A’ taking the win with an ‘easily’ verdict. Despite their clear lead off a quick start, the ‘A’ crew continually increased their rate as they approached the finish, pushing to 41 as they blazed through. Their ‘B’ crew remained calm and steady throughout the race, keeping a low rate despite the growing distance between them and their schoolmates. Although perhaps not the most exciting matchup, it is a credit to the school for both of their crews to get this far. 

Prince Philip Challenge Trophy Review 

I was lucky enough to follow this race in the launch, and as they started, I could feel the anxiety buzzing around the rowers’ heads and – overarchingly– the steely determination written on all their faces. St Catherine’s took a slight early lead over Winter Park, who responded with an aggressive sprint around Remenham. This resulted in an intensely competitive counter-sprint down the rest of the course. However, St Catherine’s remained at a slightly lower rate than Winter Park and were able to smoothly draw back away from them, though the finish remained relatively close with only 2/3 of a length between the crews. This being the inaugural year of this event with its new title and the second year of the JW8+ event at HRR, these international crews have set an excellent standard for the years to come.

Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup Review

From the go both crews attacked the race off the start both crews setting aggressive rhythms. Off the end of the island Redwood began to extend their lead, choosing to settle onto a lower rate than their Berks counterparts. Both crews appeared to be testing their limits with steering as they battled for the fastest water, with both crews being warned for their lines. At the barrier Redwood continued to edge ahead, managing to push their cover slightly more each stroke with a more relaxed rhythm, but Claire’s Court continued to fight to maintain contact. There was still much to play for coming past Remenham Club with Claire’s court beginning to mount a charge with a sustained increase in rate. Approaching the start of enclosures Claire’s Court’s push allowed them to gradually take seats and move through from the back if the field climaxing in a monumental push. This sustained effort led them across the finish line and walk away with a history-making first win for the club.

Prince Albert Challenge Cup Review

Both crews had a clean start, stroking 36 through the island where the American crew drew out a marginal lead. At the 1/4 mile marker the Berkeley crew were leading by 1/2 a length, despite slightly underrating their competition. By the barrier they had 1 length over Brookes’, but this would not last. From the 3/4 mile marker the Brookes’ crew began to reel in the American team, taking 2/3 of a length up to Fawley, and then reducing their lead to only a canvas by the 3/4 mile point. Coming up to the Remenham club the Brookes’ men took the lead, which they then extended to 3/4 of a length by the time they were past the Remenham club. By the mile signal, Brookes’ had both reduced the rate and extended their lead to 1 and 1/4 lengths, continuing away from the Berkeley crew. By the progress board, both crews were once again rating equally high at 38, but there was nothing the crew from Berkeley could do to stop the Brookes’ men taking a demonstrative victory of 1 length.

Island Challenge Cup Review

Both crews in this Island final had an aggressive start, still neck and neck by the end of the island and rating at 46. By the 1/4 mile signal Brown had edged out a lead of 1/4 of a length, building to 3/4 of a length by the Barrier. The Yale girls dropped their stroke rate past Remenham farm, but this did little to help them come back on Brown. By Fawley the Brown crew had a lead of 1 length which they maintained throughout this middle part of the race. On the approach to the enclosures Brown had extended their lead to 1 and 1/2 lengths, up to 1 and 3/4s by the progress board. Despite a valiant effort from the Yale girls, the Brown crew came across the line ahead by 1 and 3/4 lengths. Not as close as we were expecting, but the Americans have not disappointed in this Island Challenge Cup. Adding to their Henley Women’s victory only a few weeks ago, the crew from Brown University showed skill and dominance, taking home both trophies this year.

Temple Challenge Cup Review

Both crews had a strong start, with the Washington crew taking a canvas by the end of the island. By the 1/4 mile marker the Oxford Brookes’ crew had reduced this lead to 1/3 of a length, down to only a few feet by the Barrier. At the 1/2 mile signal, Oxford Brookes’ took the lead by 1/3 of a length and from here on out rowed away from the Washington crew. By Fawley the lead was 3/4 of a length, up to 2 lengths by Remenham rowing club. By the time the Oxford Brookes’ crew reached the mile marker they held 3 lengths over Washington, extending to 4 lengths as they approached the progress board. The Oxford Brookes’ crew came over the line in a time of 6 minutes and 10 seconds, leading the Washington boat by 4 and 1/2 lengths over the line. The Temple Cup was certainly a competitive event this year, but the Brookes’ crew really showed their dominance across the course of the week, finishing in style well clear of the next best crew.

Club Events

All hail Thames Rowing Club. It was so nearly a clean sweep for the men and women on Putney as they took convincing victories in the Wyfold, Britannia and Wargrave Challenge Cups. In the final race of the day, they narrowly lost out to a brilliant crew from Molesey Boat Club, coached by Franz Imfeld. The strength in depth that Thames possess at this point is astonishing and their 'B' crew in the men's eight category also went deep in the competition. How do you solve that problem as an outsider? Appointing former Thames Head Coach Ben Lewis as head of your program probably helps...

Intermediate Events 

Leander took home two of the three trophies on offer here; one was to be expected whereas the other shocked most punters. Their win in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, against a field that lacked depth, was unsurprising - this category has become almost the exclusive property of the Pink Palace over the past 15 years. Their win in the Ladies Challenge Plate however, against a University of California, Berkeley crew who had a couple of changes from the boat that won the IRA National Championship four weeks ago, was astonishing and demonstrated once again a remarkable ability to take on the very best. The Visitors' Challenge Cup was won by half of the University of Washington's 1V in an epic final against a composite from Tideway Scullers School and Molesey Boat Club. The final verdict - three feet - was one of the closest of the entire Regatta.

Open Events

These trophies were almost the sole property of national teams; Australia, New Zealand, China, Team GB and the USA all brought substantial contingents to contest various honours. It was a good day in the bigger boats for Team GB as they saw off two crews from Australia to win the Grand and Remenham Challenge Cups. Australia, with three of their Olympic gold medal-winning crew, won the Stewards' Challenge Cup whilst Macdonald and Mackintosh of New Zealand were victors in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Challenge Cup over Wynne-Griffith and George of Cambridge University Boat Club. China - whose ascendancy to the very top of international sculling has been nothing short of remarkable - were comfortable winners in both the Queen Mother and Princess Grace Challenge Cups. The Hambleden Pairs went the way of Team USA, as did the Stonor Challenge Trophy, whilst the Town Challenge Cup for Open Women's Coxless Fours went the way of New Zealand. The singles were won by Kohler of the USA on the women's side and reigning world champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany for the men.

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