Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Leander Club pick up four trophies

LEANDER CLUB won four of the seven trophies it competed for at Henley Royal Regatta’s finals

LEANDER CLUB won four of the seven trophies it competed for at Henley Royal Regatta’s finals on Sunday.

These included a win in the Ladies Challenge Plate against Holland’s ASR Nereus, who were first over the line by three feet but later disqualified following a Leander appeal.

The Dutch crew led by half a length at the barrier and a length by Remenham church. However, they were cautioned several times for their steering and the umpire’s flag was up for more than a minute in total.

At the finish, Nereus believed they had won and celebrated by cheering and splashing the water. Several supporters leapt off a nearby jetty and swam out to congratulate them.

However, the umpire raised a red flag to signal that the result was postponed. He spent more than two hours conferring with officials who were further up the course as well as the clubs’ coaches and regatta chairman Sir Steve Redgrave.

There were rumours that the race would be re-rowed but the disqualification was announced at 3pm.

Nereus were deemed to have interfered with Leander and their coach was signalling them from the umpire’s boat to move over, which is forbidden.

It was Leander’s first win in the men’s eights event since 2013, when it won as a Molesey Boat Club composite. It last won before that in 2008. Adam Neill, a member of this year’s crew, said: “Waiting for a decision on the result was among the hardest couple of hours of my life.

“It’s been very emotional as we trained all year for this race and wanted to know what was happening as soon as possible.

“It’s not exactly how you want to win a race but the rules are the rules and I’m glad we won. Well done to Nereus for a great season and obviously well done to my teammates.”

A Leander men’s quad won the Queen Mother Challenge Cup following a close-fought final against the USA’s California Rowing Club.

The crews were neck and neck at the end of the island but Leander had taken a half-length lead by the barrier, increasing that to a length and a half by Fawley.

The Americans had closed the gap to half a length by Remenham Club but Leander put in a final surge and shot ahead, winning by two-and-a-half lengths.

Andy Joel, who sat at stroke, is in his second season rowing at Leander and was part of a quad that won the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup for the club last year.

He said: “I’m really over the moon — it’s almost like a fairy tale, a dream come true. We came into this event really wanting to step up and challenge ourselves but didn’t initially expect to win. However, as we progressed through the regatta we started to believe that we could do it. We dominated the first two rounds, which we didn’t expect.

“Going into the final we knew the opposition were fast and would go hard out of the start but we were determined not to let them get too far ahead. The race went completely to plan. Everyone did their job and I’m really proud of how we did.”

Leander’s Nick Middleton, the club’s vice-captain, and Jack Beaumont won the Double Sculls Challenge Cup after beating Gasper Fistravec, of Slovenia’s VeslaSki Klub Maribor, and Dani Fridman, of Israel’s Tiberias Rowing Club, by four-and-a-half lengths.

They had a two-and-a-half-length lead by Fawley and increased that over the final stretch. Afterwards, the pair moored up on the pontoon beside their opponents and greeted them with handshakes and hugs.

Leander has won the Double Sculls 11 times before, most recently in 2011 and 2012. As the pair approached the finish, Leander’s president Jeremy Randall said: “It’s been a very good day for the club and it’s getting better and better.

“We’re very sad to hear the Dutch were disqualified from the Ladies’ as that is a rotten way to lose. However, our eight was made up of some very young chaps and we’re proud of their tremendous win. As you can hear from the celebrations behind me, another victory is about to be announced so I think we can be very, very happy.”

Beaumont said: “I feel fantastic. There aren’t many better feelings than winning at Henley when you’ve grown up and lived your whole life in the area.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid because my dad [Peter Beaumont] rowed for Leander Club and it’s pretty cool to keep coming back and doing the club proud.

“It’s also amazing to come off the water and find the Queen Mother and Ladies’ Plate crews have won as well.”

Later that afternoon, a Leander and Reading Rowing Club composite defeated a Polish composite from Warszawa and Grudziadz rowing clubs in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup final.

The women’s quad, including Leander’s Jessica Leyden at stroke and Holly Nixon at number three, had beaten another Leander crew including former captain Debbie Flood the day beforehand.

They had a length’s lead at Remenham church but the Poles closed the gap by half a length near the enclosures. The British women redoubled their efforts, winning by a length.

Leyden, 21, who won Britain’s first ever gold in the women’s single sculls at the 2013 World Junior Championships, said: “I’m really pleased — it’s a great start to our Olympic cycle next year. We’re going to keep just as strong and just as tough but the Polish crew were tough competitors. There’s a great mood out here on the pontoon — they’re really great girls.”

However, following Leander’s sixth consecutive win in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup last year, its ‘A’ crew failed to make it a seventh. The men’s quad were a length behind America’s Schuylkill Navy High Performance Center by Remenham church. They closed the gap in the remaining distance but were beaten by four feet.

The GB under-23 development team, coxed by Leander’s Sam Royston, lost the final of the Grand Challenge Cup to the Dutch Olympic eight, rowing as Hollandia Rowing Club.

The Brits, competing as Nautilus Rowing Club, were neck and neck with the Dutch at the end of Temple Island but had fallen a quarter of a length behind by the barrier.

They kept up the pressure with a final push towards the finish but the Dutch responded in kind and won by three-quarters of a length.

Finally, a Leander and Tees Rowing Club composite women’s eight lost the final of the Remenham Challenge Cup to Princeton Training Center.

The Americans had two lengths’ lead by Fawley and continued to widen the gap, finishing four and three-quarter lengths ahead.

Leander also entered the Fawley and Visitors’ Challenge Cups as well as the Diamond Challenge Sculls and the Silver Goblets but did not reach the finals.

Meanwhile, a coxless men’s four from Henley’s Upper Thames Rowing Club reached the final of the Wyfold Challenge Cup before losing to Grasshopper-Club, of Switzerland, by a length.

Director of rowing Justin Sutherland said: “It’s very disappointing but Grasshopper are a very good crew and to be honest they deserved to win. All we can do is come back next year and try to do better.

“We’ve done really well to get to the final — there are lots of crews of a similar standard and we’ve shown we can punch above our weight. The boys actually looked like one of the best crews in the event.

“We did everything we set out to do but every stroke they were getting an inch more than us and you can’t be upset at that.”

An Upper Thames coxed four beat Baltimore in the first heat of the Britannia Challenge Cup but lost to Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen the following day.

The club’s men’s eight was knocked out in the opening heat of the Thames Challenge Cup by London Rowing Club.

Jack Thompson and Tom Carter, also of Upper Thames, competed in the Double Sculls but were defeated by Tim Male and Mark Mitchell, of Tideway Scullers School, on the Thursday.

The club won the Wyfold and Britannia cups in 2014, its first Henley victories since it was founded in 1963, but last year all its crews were knocked out by the quarter-finals.

This year Henley Rowing Club won its first two heats of the Wyfold Challenge Cup against Worcester and Germany’s Dresdner but lost in the quarter-finals to Grasshopper-Club.

Thames Rowing Club beat Henley’s men’s coxed four in the opening round of the Britannia Challenge Cup by four and three-quarter lengths. Senior men’s coach Ian Desmond said: “To be fair, the Grasshoppers were a very fast crew and we wish them well for the rest of the regatta.

“Their technique was immaculate in quite trying conditions, and we had some dreadful wash at the top of the Island because of all the boat traffic so we were struggling big time until we reached the barrier.

“We’ve got some talented boys in our crew, but we just weren’t able to hold them long enough and come through.

“The Britannia crew formed quite late and they put in a decent performance but were clearly outdone by an exceptional Thames crew.”

Henley’s junior girls’ ‘A’ crew beat Thames Rowing Club in the opening round of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup before losing to Gloucester, while the ‘B’ crew were knocked out by Warrington on the first day.

Shiplake College reached the Friday of the regatta for the first time in 15 years.

Its eight defeated Choate Rosemary Hall, from America, and the London Oratory School in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup but lost to Westminster School by one and a quarter lengths.

Headmaster Gregg Davies said: “I’m incredibly proud of them, they rowed very well and that’s all you can ask.

“They will come back and reflect on this, see the video and see they rowed well. Westminster’s transition was done so smoothly but we fought really well and they had to work pretty hard at the end.

“We’ve had a really good season and it’s a great team, they work for each other. The support was fantastic as well.”

Christian Hjortland-Marks, 17, of Peppard Common, was in the six seat. He said: “We’ve got to give them credit, they gunned it out of the blocks and I think we did pretty well staying with them.

“We all knew the likely outcome but we were hoping we could turn them over. We gave them a good race and and didn’t give up. We are really pleased. This is the best the school has ever done and I’m proud of everyone in the boat.”

Shiplake Vikings, who train at the college, were defeated in the semi-final of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup by Gloucester after previously beating Northwich and Isle of Ely.

Reading Blue Coat School, of Sonning, were knocked out in their first race of the Princess Elizabeth by St Paul’s School, of New Hampshire.

A total of 629 crews took part in this year’s regatta, outstripping the previous record of 552 set in 1998. There were 165 international entries and 27 different countries competing, an increase on the previous records of 133 international entries in 2012 and 22 nations in 2013.

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