Friday, 15 December 2017

Women from around the world prepare for river battle

THE river in Henley comes alive this weekend with some fierce battles being waged on the water, writes Erica Bodman.

THE river in Henley comes alive this weekend with some fierce battles being waged on the water, writes Erica Bodman.

While the world’s elite rowers go head-to-head at the Samsung World Cup at Dorney there is another important rowing event taking place in Henley.

The Henley Women’s Regatta the world’s only international women’s rowing regatta starts today and continues all weekend.

Organisers are especially proud that each year the women’s regatta has produced an Olympian. That is to say, somebody competing will go on to take part in the Olympics.

This is where the dream begins, where battle lines are drawn.

But some athletes have struggled in the lead-up to this year’s event. Nottingham Trent women were distraught when their minibuses were broken into in March and thousands of pounds worth of specialist kit stolen.

A Twitter campaign failed to locate the stolen kit but did provide significant support from the rowing community, including some kit donations.

First run in 1988, Henley Women’s Regatta now attracts competitive crews from all over the world. This year there are entries from Norway, Holland, Canada, America, Ireland and South Africa.

A total of 349 crews are entered, involving nearly 1,500 athletes. Star attractions include triple Olympian Debbie Flood, racing Elite 1x for Leander after the London 2012 Olympics and her retirement from the Great Britain rowing team.

The event will also feature two paraAS (arms and shoulders) single scullers. This is exciting as there has not been an entry in international races for Great Britain for the women’s 1x AS para rowing event since Helene Raynsford retired in 2010.

The success of Great Britain’s rowers, Olympic and Paralympic, at London 2012 is still fresh in our minds. Can we add a women’s para AS 1x to the list in 2016?

International crews to look out for include GVSU USA (Grand Valley State University) who will be competing for the senior eights title. GVSU USA won the women’s varsity heavyweight eight race at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in North America, last month.

Newcastle University are aiming to retain their senior eights title.They are a strong boat with five GB triallists and sisters Danielle and Natalie Hardy racing at six and three. Their father still rows and is captain of Tyne Rowing Club, and their mother coxed at Henley Royal Regatta.

The senior eights event has also attracted crews from Boston College USA, University College Dublin, Trinity College and the victorious Oxford University crew. The senior eights title looks to be a tough battle.

There will be live web streaming of the event. The regatta start is at Temple Island and finishes at Remenham Club. The regatta hub is halfway down the course where refreshments can be purchased and car parking is available for a fee. These facilities are all provided by the Copas Partnership. There are no entrance fees to the regatta and the dress code is casual.

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