ONE of the best line-ups of international crews is expected at next year’s Henley Royal Regatta.
With the world rowing championships not taking place until October, many top crews are likely to want to take part at the July event.
Regatta chairman Mike Sweeney said: “A number of leading international coaches have indicated that Henley is in their plans for 2010 in order to give their crews another racing opportunity in a somewhat disjointed season.
“We will not know with certainty until entries close in June but early indications are that we will have one of the highest-quality international fields for a long time.”
He was speaking at the regatta’s annual meeting, which heard that income from the event over the year rose by three per cent to £2.43million while operating expenditure rose just 0.4 per cent.
The regatta’s trading arm performed well, allowing a combined donation of £250,000 to the Stewards’ Charitable Trust. During the year the trustees were able to increase the total amount of grant aid that was dispersed to more than £300,000.
The trust was also able to announce that donations totalling more than £300,000 would be made next year to continue funding grassroots rowing projects and particularly the 14 scholarship coaches operating nationwide.
Grants were awarded to Longridge Boating Centre in Marlow to develop a rowing programme to sit alongside its long-established sailing and canoeing programmes and more support was given to a junior coaching initiative based at Upper Thames Rowing Club.
At their December meeting, the stewards re-elected the committee of management en bloc as follows: Mr Sweeney, Mr C L BaillieuMBE, Dr I Reid, Mr R C Lester, Mr F J Smallbone, Mr M D Williams, Professor N B Rankov, Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, Mr R C Phelps, Mr B M. Edwards, Mr R C Stanhope and Mr G W Hammond.
Two new stewards were also elected — Peter Cusack and Jamie Koven.
Mr Cusack, 54, is an engraver, specialising in the decoration of sporting guns.
He was originally a member of Putney Town Rowing Club and is now a member of Pengwern Boat Club in Shrewsbury, near his home.
Mr Cusack has been a chairman’s assistant at the regatta since 1986 and for most of this time has acted as regatta control, monitoring all the radio channels and liaising with the Environment Agency, the secretary’s office, the chairman and the river rescue services. He is the point of contact for the umpires on all routine and non-routine issues relating to the racing and when there is an emergency on the river.
Mr Koven, 36, is a partner and managing director in One Equity, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase Bank and lives in New York.
He is a double Olympian, a world champion both in the eight and as a single sculler and a multiple winner at Henley. Between 1993 and 1997, he won one gold medal and two bronzes in an eight at the world championships and a gold in the single sculls. At the royal regatta during the same period, he won the Grand twice, the Ladies Challenge Plate and the Diamond Sculls.
The meeting also heard that the official close of entries will be 20 hours earlier next year.
In recent years it has been 2pm on the Tuesday, 15 days before the start of racing. Next year the close will be 6pm on Monday, June 14, 16 days before the start. Typically, half the entries arrive in the last 36 hours before the close, many being brought into the office by hand. By moving the date forward, this effectively doubles the amount of time available to officials to check and process the entries and to prepare all the papers for the committee meeting on the Wednesday.
General rule 15, on substitution, allowed 50 per cent of the crew and the cox to be changed for a further eight days after the close of entries. This rule has been amended to extend the period to nine days after the close so that there will be no change to the moment in time when the composition of the crew has to be fixed.