Thursday, 07 July 2022

Record-breaking entry for six-day Henley Royal Regatta

Record-breaking entry for six-day Henley Royal Regatta

THIS year’s Henley Royal Regatta is set to be the biggest in its 183-year history with a record number of entries.

Entries closed last week with 739 crews from 17 nations registered, beating the previous highest total of 660 in 2019.

There are 172 international entries, with 66 from America and 37 from Australia, all records too.

The regatta will be six days for the first time this year, starting on Tuesday, and is back in its traditional place in the summer season for the first time since 2019 after being cancelled in 2020 and moved to August last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Regatta chairman Sir Steve Redgrave said: “The stewards are delighted with the entry. We’ve missed the scale of the regatta — with a smaller one last year and the cancellation the year before — and, judging by the number of entries, it looks like the rest of the rowing world has missed it as well.

“In the summer of the Queen’s platinum jubilee, we are looking forward to continuing that spirit of celebration and the record number of crews entered is being matched by the spectators coming to welcome them.” Among the field are 12 gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympics last year, five from New Zealand, four from Australia — the top two nations in Japan Olympics — and three from China.

The New Zealand entry includes Emma Twigg, who won the women’s single sculls in Tokyo, and Kerri Williams and Grace Prendergast, who won the women’s pair and were part of the eight that won silver. Another winner is German sculler Oliver Zeidler, the world and European champion who showed his form by winning the first world cup in Belgrade last month.

He will be competing against Britain’s Graeme Thomas, who won the men’s singles sculls at Henley last year and was third to Zeidler in Belgrade.

There will be a strong British entry in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup (men’s pair), with three GB boats including Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George. They were part of the Cambridge eight in the Boat Race in April and convincingly won in Belgrade.

The three newest women’s events — the Wargrave (club eights) the Island (student eights) and the newly-named Prince Philip (junior women’s eights) all have large, quality entries.

Sir Steve said: “Whilst the competition in the open events is eye-catching, the depth and quality in these women’s events in just their second year is going to be very exciting to watch.”

Among the leading entries are a unique double in the Stonor Challenge Trophy (women’s double sculls). Poland’s Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska, a silver medallist in the women’s quadruple sculls in Tokyo, and Ukrainian former European champion Olena Buriak have been training together in Warsaw since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dmytro Mikhay, Ukraine’s former world champion in the men’s quadruple sculls, will be competing in the Diamond Challenge Sculls (men’s single sculls), for Leander Club.

The qualifying races will take place today (Friday).

Sir Steve said that extending the event to six days had enabled the stewards to accommodate more crews than ever.

He said: “One of the reasons for going to six days was to ease the pressure of long racing days on our volunteers.

“But because of the scale of the open entry this year, we’ve had to expand a lot of the events beyond the prescribed number we normally have, so that extra day is vital as there will still be a full schedule.”

The draw for the regatta will take place in Henley Town Hall at 3pm on Saturday.

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