by Robert Treharne Jones
AFTER winning a record seven trophies at last year’s Henley Royal Regatta, Leander is boating 58 athletes in 17 crews across 14 events this year.
The ranks are swelled by 18 GB internationals.
Pride of place among the club’s crews goes to the young quad scull which is looking for a successful defence of the Prince of Wales Cup.
Sholto Carnegie, Angus Groom, Seb Devereux and club vice-captain Jack Beaumont have an average age of just 20, yet have proven themselves faster than other, more senior, crews.
The quad is looking to record an unprecedented fifth successive win in this cup — the intermediate status event for club quad sculls.
Meanwhile, many of those more senior scullers have made the switch to sweep to contest the Visitors’ Challenge Cup, the intermediate event for coxless fours, having already earned some success on the domestic regatta circuit.
The Leander Ladies’ Plate eight is also relishing the prospect of racing at Henley, where the club is also boating two junior quads in the Fawley Cup, reflecting the recent success of the club in promoting its U18 athletes.
Virtually all the Leander juniors have been recruited from local non-rowing schools as part of the club’s talent identification programme and a clutch of medals from the National Schools Regatta last month is evidence of the success of that programme.
This year’s regatta also marks a welcome return by Leander in the Thames Cup, where younger members of the club’s development academy, each with only a few months’ rowing experience under their belt, can relish the chance to compete on home water.
Leander captain Debbie Flood will compete in a quad scull in the Princess Grace Cup, the boat class in which she won two Olympic silver medals.
Racing in a club composite, the crew will also include Emily Carmichael, the daughter of Olympic bronze medallist Malcolm Carmichael, who is beginning to make a mark for herself on the domestic sculling scene. Leander’s presence at Henley will be boosted by the return to their clubs of the GB international squad, who have enjoyed success at the European championships and the recent World Cup regatta in France. Olympic champion Alex Gregory will join his three Molesey crewmates to contest the Stewards’ Cup but with world champion Polly Swann out of the women’s pair in which she won the world and European titles, she now takes her place in the GB women’s eight to contest the Remenham Cup.
The crew, which won the silver medal at the Europeans, already contains four other Leander athletes, including cox Zoe de Toledo.
Another all-Leander crew is the double scull in which John Collins and Jonny Walton will join forces to compete against a high-class field.
There’s no place for Jamie Kirkwood and Will Fletcher in their own double — like all the other GB lightweights, they will be avoiding Henley, where there is no separate weight category, and conserving their energy for the World Cup in Lucerne the following week.