Friday, 20 July 2018

Henley make history with three wins at record-breaking women’s regatta

HENLEY Rowing Club won three trophies at this year’s 28th annual Henley Women’s Regatta.

HENLEY Rowing Club won three trophies at this year’s 28th annual Henley Women’s Regatta.

The event, which took place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week, enjoyed a record number of entries with 1,800 athletes across 426 crews from nine countries taking part.

This was a significant increase on the 1,600 athletes and 373 crews who entered last year.

It was also the regatta’s largest ever overseas entry, with competitors flying in from the USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Australia and New Zealand and Israel.

Athletes rowed along a 1,500 metre section of the royal regatta course, starting at Temple Island and finishing at Remenham Club.

A Henley Rowing Club intermediate coxed four of Cat Kay, Rachael Alder, Amanda Hynes, Sophie Reynolds and cox Rebecca Lister won the Lester Trophy for the first time in the club’s history.

They beat Oxford by a length in a time trial on Friday then defeated Maidenhead in the second round by one-and-a-half lengths.

On Sunday they faced Nottingham Rowing Club, who they defeated by two-and-a-half lengths to take their place in the final against Royal Chester.

Despite a less promising start they were ahead of their rivals by the end of Temple Island and finished one-and-three-quarter lengths in the lead. They collected their award alongside their coach Leon Redman, 19.

Henley’s Genevieve Bailhache-Graham took to the water on Saturday morning to contest the Bernard Churcher Trophy for senior single sculls.

Bailhache-Graham easily defeated City of Cambridge’s Lindsay Hamilton before taking on Andrea Stock, of Poplar Blackwell, whom she beat by two-and-a-half lengths. In the final Bailhache-Graham, who is competing in the Princess Royal Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, defeated Agecroft’s Olivia Salt by two-and-a-half lengths.

A Henley J16 coxed four of Lilly Stimpson, Georgia Edwards, Charlotte Orr and Issy Petersen and cox Ella Nolson won the West End ARA Trophy. They beat Great Marlow School in the first round and were due to face Philips Academy in the second round but the Americans pulled out due to injury and Henley rowed over.

They faced Marlow Rowing Club in the final and won by three-and-a-half lengths following a strong start. It was the second year running that Edwards had been in a winning boat for this event.

Henley Rowing Club spokesman Barry Redman said: “Naturally this was a very positive weekend for the club. To have won these events is excellent and shows our strength and depth at both senior and junior level.

“The quad can perhaps count themselves unlucky in catching a crab before the end of the island and not making up their considerable margin for the rest of the race.

“Everyone is feeling very enthusiastic and looking to build on this for next year. We’re looking to increase the size of the squad and start competing in eights and fours events at a higher level.”

Henley’s J16 quad scull crew of Ella Morgan, Lauren Kay, Clare Pearson and Florence Wiggins beat Wallingford and Avon County in the first two rounds but lost to a Nottingham and St Neots composite crew in the final after catching a crab.

Alicia Redman, Katy Claridge, Kryssie Steiger, Emma Lister and cox Esther Morgan were beaten in the first round of the junior women’s coxed fours by King’s School Chester.

Two Henley crews entered the Rosie Maygothling Trophy for senior double sculls but only Victoria Carver and Elizabeth Williams qualified for the first round before losing to Nottingham. The second crew was a composite of Henley’s Alice Bentley and Upper Thames Rowing Club’s Katy Parker.

A second J16 coxed four of Georgie Robinson-Ranger, Charlotte Moss, Alice Jones, Anna Roe and cox Gemma Sarney also failed to qualify.

Meanwhile a Leander pair of Debbie Flood and Fran Rawlins reached the finals of the W Peer Cup for elite double sculls but lost easily to a Reading University and Sport Imperial composite.

There was further disappointment for the pair as they teamed up with Kate Griffiths and Faith Richardson in the elite quadruple sculls where they narrowly lost out in the final by a canvas to Stanford University from the USA.

Upper Thames Rowing Club’s Alice White and Georgie Haycraft also made the deciding round of the Rosie Mayglothling Trophy for senior double sculls but Molesey Boat Club won by five lengths.

A Shiplake Vikings junior coxed four reached the final of the Groton School Challenge Cup but Reading closely beat them by half-a-length. At the presentation

ceremony the winners were announced by Matt Richardson and Victoria Morgan, both of whom live in Henley and used to row for Upper Thames.

Trophies were presented by Paralympic rower Naomi Riches, who has won gold medals at three world championships and at the 2012 Paralympics.

She told entrants: “It was such an honour to be asked to do this because I’ve only raced at Henley Women’s Regatta a couple of times and I was usually out in the first round.

“I never quite made it to where I would have like to have made it so I’m incredibly proud of everyone who has achieved their dreams today. Rowing is a bit of a Marmite sport — you either get in a boat and decide you’ll never do it again or you suddenly want to become an Olympian or Paralympian.”

Also present was GB rowing coach Ron Meads, of Greys Road in Henley, who is 90 years old and has been coaching since he was 30.

This year the elite eight trophy, which was won by Oxford University, was renamed the Ron Meads Challenge Cup in honour of his contributions to women’s rowing.

Meads said: “It is a great honour to have this trophy named after me.

“Part of the success of women’s rowing is the development of rowers before they come into the national squads.

“We are grateful to have this wonderful regatta, which gives you a taste of top-class racing and I hope enthuses you to go forward, go faster and go higher to win medals at an international level.

“Make that your goal and I hope to see many of you in the British team.”

Regatta chairwoman Miriam Luke said: “This year’s regatta went incredibly well and we’re considering it another success.

“We were very lucky with the weather. Apart from a brief downpour for the last four races on the Saturday, it was very kind to us.

“There was a huge increase in the number of entries and to some extent that’s a reflection of the growing popularity of women’s rowing in this country. That increase was across all areas, both universities and clubs.

“It also helps that we broadcast the regatta online in 2013 and 2014, allowing it to reach a global audience. We weren’t able to do that this year but we’re looking for sponsors so we can reintroduce it.

“There is still potential for the regatta to grow although we are getting a bit short on room. We try to give as many people as possible an opportunity to race — it’s a really exciting experience even if they only get as far as the time trials.”

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