#BucksGoRoyal: Tight Racing on the Thames at Henley Royal Regatta

Ohio State and Cornell face off on land (Photo: Madeline Davis)

The following is the fourth and final installment from the Buckeyes' trip to England for Henley Women's Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta, thanks to senior rower Stephanie Williams.

From Stephanie:

"Our final week in Henley was definitely the biggest."After our boats had both qualified for Henley Royal Regatta, we took a day trip to London. For many of us this was our first time in London. With only a day to see as much as possible, we split into two groups. We visited the Brixton Markets, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, and Soho. We visited museums and saw a free outdoor West End concert in Trafalgar Square.

Our final week in Henley was definitely the biggest. Henley Royal Regatta is one of the most famous regattas in the world, and it lived up to every expectation. On Monday we went to an international reception at the River and Rowing Museum. There was a record of 60 crews from the U.S. racing, and many more from all over the world. It was great to catch up with friends from different programs and from different countries. It also provided us an opportunity to make new friends. The Cornell heavyweights invited us to play some croquet before racing started, which was a lot of fun.

You can't spell Ohio without Big Ben (Photo: Madeline Davis)

"Because we watched from The Steward’s Enclosure we had to follow the strict dress code."While the regatta officially started on Wednesday, our crews started on Friday. We would wake up early and hit the water before it got too busy. We had some really great training sessions leading up to the regatta. After we trained we would get dressed up and watch the racing. Because we watched from The Steward’s Enclosure we had to follow the strict dress code. We had to wear dresses below the knee; we also wore our blazers and sometimes the optional sunhat.

As the days passed, the racing got even more intense. Because of the knockout nature of the regatta, a large number of crews were packing up everyday. However, the number of spectators grew and grew. There was more entertainment than just the racing, for example, there was the occasional singing Elvis impersonator that would go past on a boat. We went for a row during lunch break and experienced how loud and busy the course was during the regatta. The atmosphere was insane.

Friday came around and we were so excited to race. In true Henley fashion, the field was very competitive. The four raced first against The New York Athletic Club up first, a boat of very talented U.S. athletes with 13 world championships between them. Our girls put up a great fight, but in the end it was New York Athletic Club winning by 2 and 3/4 lengths.

The eight raced later in the morning against the GB senior eight. Giving the race everything we had, we battled with the GB crew down the course. Great Britain won by half a length. Unfortunately, this meant we wouldn’t progress to Day 4 of the regatta, but we were all so happy with our races.

"Thousands of people arrived in Henley; the entire racecourse was packed with people and boats full of spectators watched from along the course."On Saturday we went to the regatta, but this time as spectators. Saturday was the busiest day at the regatta by far. Thousands of people arrived in Henley; the entire racecourse was packed with people and boats full of spectators watched from along the course. We enjoyed socializing with old and new friends from all over the world while watching some world-class rowing.

Spending three weeks at Henley-on-Thames was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. To finish my Ohio State career racing elite crews from around the world was beyond what I could have imagined.

So much planning and involvement from so many people went in to planning our trip and we couldn’t have been more thankful! Go Buckeyes! –SW

Thanks very much to Stephanie and the entire Buckeyes squad for sharing their experiences with us! And, while Henley may be in the books for 2017, that doesn't mean you can't binge watch races from this year's event on YouTube—in fact, we recommend it.

Catch up on the whole series with the Buckeyes, as well as previous Henley Royal Regatta travel experiences, via our Travelogues page.


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