Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Henley Royal Regatta, 2011: Recap and Review

Afternoon in the Stewards' Enclosure (Photo: B. Kitch)
There are few regattas as difficult to predict as Henley, but, with a big 'ta' to our 'unnamed source,' we managed to do a respectable job this year. On the international front, the British men were the class of the field in the elite events, while the US women were in top form gearing up for Lucerne. The Temple saw several records broken (again, and again), with the top US collegiate talent showing its strength. In the club events, some familiar faces, as well as some notable international crews took home medals. Let's take a look.

The elite events were, for the most part, on par with expectations. Though we didn't offer a prediction, the Germans continued their dominance in the eight, and Triggs-Hodge and Reed looked outstanding in the pair, tying a course record for overall time in the final set by a reasonably well known duo (Pinsent and Redgrave), despite winning by a verdict of 'easily.' The US did have a strong showing in the Stewards, falling to a British crew that set a new course record en route to winning the final, while another GB crew defeated a favored Croatian boat in the Queen Mother. The US women were fantastic, as predicted, winning both the quad and the eight. Also, the first showdown between the 'Red Express' GB men's 2x and the reigning Olympic Champions Crawshay and Brennan of Australia went to the Brits – that will be a great match-up to watch at Worlds and in the months leading up to London.

In the Ladies' Plate, we missed the mark, selecting a Harvard crew that had been quite good all year over the British and international clubs in the event. Harvard narrowly made it past the first round, where they faced a powerful Penn AC crew, only to be beaten by Leander on Saturday by 1/3 length. The Leander crew then found the racing on Sunday a little hot, falling to a German crew from Berliner Ruderclub and Olympische Ruder Club Rostock. In the other intermediate events, however, we were indeed prophetic. As predicted, the reigning Leander/IC composite crew won the Visitors, with Leander taking the Prince of Wales.

The Temple Challenge Cup turned out just as we expected, with ASR Nereus facing an outstanding California frosh crew in the final. Also, Matt Miller and Virginia had a strong performance, as predicted, making it to Saturday. In the Prince Albert, a surprising Harvard crew prevented our predicted final, defeating Newcastle on Saturday and Oxford Brookes on Sunday. Given the margins, it looks as if our prediction of Newcastle being faster than Brookes would have proven true had the two raced, but hats off to Harvard for defending the Crimson's honor following the defeat of their varsity eight in the Ladies'.

In the club events, our top four crews in the Thames (Molesey, Star, Upper Yarra, and Thames RC) all raced on Saturday, with the Upper Yarra crew winning the event under the guidance of former Eton College head coach Alex Henshilwood. In the words of our unnamed source, "he knows the standard and would not come all this way unless he thought they had a shot." The Wyfold was indeed London RC's to lose, and they did not. In the Brit, another very talented and experienced London RC crew fell by just 3/4 length to Banks RC of Australia, whom we speculated might be fast – evidently the top crew that Banks brought to the regatta.

While we didn't make an official prediction in the junior events, we did indicate in the comments that we were expecting a very strong showing from St. Andrew's (USA), following a disappointing result based on a technicality at the USRowing Junior National Championships in June. St. Andrew's did indeed have a great regatta, making the final, but falling to an excellent crew from Abingdon School (who set a new course record on Saturday en route to the final).

Congrats to all crews at Henley this year! So many records broken it was difficult to keep track of it all! Read our original 'Picks and Predictions' for HRR article here.

We're looking forward to more great racing on the international stage this weekend in Lucerne, as the US National Team gears up for what will be a very important World Championship regatta in Bled, Slovenia.

-RR

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