Friday, 23 August 2019

Henley Royal Regatta 2019 Finals Day - as it happened

LIVE: Henley Royal Regatta 2019 Finals Day - results and reaction

4.25pm update: Reaction from Leander following the Queen Mother Challenge Cup win

Fresh from their win in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup, we spoke to Leander's Jack Beaumont, 25, who lives in Hart Street, Henley. He told reporter Luke Adams: "We knew we were coming up against competition that we knew nothing about. Coming into today as the British National team there is a lot of pressure to perform. We decided to go about it as a team, and focus on our own race. Since the last World Cup there have been a few things that we were not entirely happy about so we wanted to focus on those and I think we did that really well today. I think our rhythm through the middle of the race was fantastic and really important."

Despite being happy with the result, the GB crew will not be resting on their laurels. Beaumont added: "We will have a drink at Leander but we are off to the World Cup next week and about five weeks of training camps ahead of the World Championships."

4.10pm update: Leander Club beat Frankfurter R G, Germany in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup

A straight final so neither crew had been in action so far in this competition. It meant the German crew was largely an unknown entity, so Leander didn't know what they were facing.

In the end, the Leander crew, one of the top quads in the world, had a very comfortable win as they head into the World Cup in Rotterdam next weekend. The completed the race by putting a significant distance of clear water between them and their opponents, and an easily verdict for the record books. The official time was six minutes and 20 seconds.

As our last local race for the afternoon it was an assured performance but arguably just another day in the office for an efficient and capable Leander crew.

While this was our last local race of Henley Royal Regatta 2019, stick with us as we're hoping to bring you more local quotes and reaction before the closing ceremony - and then we'll bring you some photos from that.

4pm update: Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand beat Leander Club and Oxford Brookes University in the Grand Challenge cup

An upset for the Leander Club and Oxford Brookes University composite crew, with an assured Kiwi crew taking the win with a verdict of one length in a strong performance.

The win was disappointment for the British crew, but gave Kiwi Mahe Drysdale, who was knocked out of the Diamond Challenge Sculls in a shock result on Thursday thus thwarting him from his seventh win, a chance to take home some silverware.

3.45pm update: Reaction from the Stewards' crews

Henley Standard reporter David White has been talking to both crews who just competed in the Stewards' Challenge Cup. For Matt Rossiter, who was in the winning crew in the bow seat, aged 29, and lives in Duke Street, Henley, it was very much a case of 'job done'. He said: "I feel relief really. We were racing our really good mates. All of us live in Henley and train together every day and internal racing or testing is probably more stressful than racing other countries or crews. I don't really take any pleasure in beating these guys. It's pretty horrible, but it's a relief we came out on top.

"It was quite strange to be straight into a final against your mates. Henley is always very unique. Our coach says everything is here to put you off - the nightlife, the boats on the water, your family and the wash. We were hoping we would be the faster crew, and we knew they would attack us from the start. We thought we'd go as hard as we could to counter that. We got out in front and managed to row away. I absolutely love Henley, I've raced here since I was a kid. We fly out on Wednesday to Rotterdam for the next international race, which is the Third World Cup."

Will Satch, 30, who lives in Watlington was in the losing Leander crew. He told us. "It was just a disappointing race. After six and a half months of grinding at home to come here and lose is embarrassing in front of your home crowd. I'm a competitive athlete and whenever I lose I get quite disheartened. I will reflect on it tomorrow and I'll be in a different place. It's a pill to swallow but I know where I need to be. It's just frustrating coming off the back of the success I've had. I think from the off we didn't quite hook it up. They beat us fair and square, there's no excuses."

3.35pm update: Reaction to the US win in the King's Challenge Cup

Henley Standard reporter Luke Adams caught a chat with Manriki Gagnon, midshipman second class, 20, from Berkeley, California, from the US crew's win against the German military crew. He said: "It is an honour just to be racing at a Henley Royal Regatta. The hype is just unreal. It means even more to me having all the ties back to the 1919 crew, it is an amazing experience. The USA didn't do nearly as well [last time] but it's because this time they sent the navy instead of the army!

"We have an incredibly strong rhythm as a crew and that is what we are trying to focus on. We know that Germany is an incredibly strong crew, and we expected that it would be tight. When it was neck and neck we were just trying to find that little bit more. We were lucky we found that at the very end and we were able to pull away from Germany.

"We will be having a little bit of fun later. We will be going up to the Leander Club and joining up with the rest of the crews."

3.25pm update: Leander Club and Oxford Brookes University beat Leander Club in the Stewards' Challenge Cup.

The current GB Rowing selection, a composite British four was up against four of their colleagues who, perhaps uncharitably, have been described as the 'comeback kids' having their own international pedigrees but also rehabbing injuries and oss of form.

The two crews stayed close throughout the early parts of the race, until the Leander crew caught a crab, seemingly on some debris, which gave the composite crew a chance to extend their lead a seat or two. Immediately after this, a slight steering error saw the Leander crew move to the middle from their station, which saw the umpire's hand graze her flag before they corrected it, gave the GB four a chance to extend the distance further.

By the time they reached the enclosures, the Leander/Brookes crew had established a commanding lead against their Leander colleagues. The race finished in a time of 6 minutes and 24 seconds, with the current GB four establishing a new record to the Barrier of one minute and 50 seconds. They finished two and a half lengths ahead of Satch, Sinclair, Neal and Johnson.

3.10pm update: The United States Armed Forces beat Bundeswehr, Germany in the King's Challenge Cup

We're back for the afternoon session, and first up is something very special indeed. The German crew led early on, but the Americans' fitness eventually prevailed in what can only be described as an historic event for the world of rowing, Henley Royal Regatta and the eight crews who have contested it. This race, which is only open to military crews, honours the centenary of the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta, is the first time mixed crews have appeared in an elite rowing event anywhere in the world, arguably an apt reflection of the increased importance of women in the armed forces.

In one of the most exciting races of the entire five days, the German crew took an early lead, while the Americans settled into a good rhythm and kept contact throughout. The Germans reached both the barrier and Fawley ahead of their opponent, with there perhaps half a canvas between them by the time they reached Remenham.

By the time the two crews were approaching the enclosures it was too close to call. The Americans pulled half a bow board ahead, then the Germans pushed back but the Americans retaliated and as they reached the enclosures the Germans had slipped a seat or two letting the US team push ahead, much to the delight of the crowd cheering the athleticism and grit displayed by both crews.

The US Armed Forces took this historic win, arguably the stand out race of regatta so far, with the delighted crew pressing their hands to the Stars and Stripes proudly displayed on their chests as they collapsed into the boats after crossing the line. Germany finished three quarters of a length behind.

A hundred years ago when this race was last run, the Australian military crew won in a time of 7 minutes and 7 seconds. Today the US crew shaved more than thirty seconds off that, finishing in a time of 6 minutes and 33 seconds but both crews acquitted themselves admirably and gave the crowds something very special to watch in the process.

1.30pm update: All of the morning races have now been completed, but there is still a lot more excitement to come this afternoon, with plenty of local crews in action. 

Germany and USA will meet at 3pm in The King’s Cup. After a very close semi-final yesterday, Bundeswehr Germany beat the defending champions, the Australian Defence Force by three seconds. 

Other races we will be keeping an eye on this afternoon include the Stewards' Challenge Cup at 3.10pm. Leander Club will be taking on a composite crew from Leander Club & Oxford Brookes University.

At 3.30pm, the same crews will be combining in the Grand Challenge Cup against Waiariki Rowing Club and the Queen Mother Challenge Cup at 3.50pm will see Leander Club take on Frankfurter.

12.50pm update: Leander Club & Agecroft Rowing Club beat Waiariki Rowing Club in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup

The experienced British duo of John Collins and Graeme Thomas won by one length after both pairs spent most of the race at deadlock. 

The GB pair did get an early advantage, though, thanks to some steering troubles for the New Zealand crew. The visitors sustained their push through the middle and latter stages, but were unable to keep pace with Collins and Thomas, who beat Georgetown University in the semi-final yesterday.

Collins and Thomas will be competing in Rotterdam next weekend, but they were able to enjoy this victory after beating the course record achieved by their opponents John Storey and Chris Harris yesterday. The winning time was six minutes 44 seconds and this was two seconds faster and the time set at the semi-final by the New Zealanders.

After the race, Collins said: "It is always very special and it is even more special beating such a fantastic crew. This is my seventh Henley win. Some are definitely worth more than others.

"This is very special. It has given us a lot of confidence. I feel we have really learned some stuff. It was about coming here and trying to work on some things we need to improve on and just going through the race a bit stronger. This type of racing is very good for improving that.

"I will be celebrating by having a few beers with my family. We have a job to do next weekend, but now I am just going to enjoy this moment with my family."

12.10pm update: Cambridge University & Leander Club beat ASR Nereus & DSR Laga in the Visitors' Challenge Cup

That was one of the biggest margins of victory we have seen across the five days here in Henley! The home crew displayed phenomenal intensity right from the start.

There were some doubts that they would be able to keep it up, but they did and they were still celebrating when the Dutch crew eventually crossed the line.

Both crews were expected to make a fast start and the Dutch were in the competition early on, but they had steering problems and the lead soon began to increase.

We caught up with Tom Digby, from Greys Green, near Henley, after the race and he was delighted to win and to set a record time of six minutes and 28 seconds. The previous record was by Leander in 2018 and that was a time of six minutes and 31 seconds.

He was rowing for Griffin Boat Club today. In our regatta supplement this week we had an interview with the 20-year-old. He explained how rowing changed his life when he attended school at the age of 13, helping him to lose weight and ascend to the heights of the GB U23 squad.

Speaking about his first Henley win, he said: "We knew we were capable of setting a record and when we got two lengths clear we went for it. It is a double whammy. You go for the record and there is no chance they can come back.

"The emotions will come back to me slowly. I suppressed them during the race. You are here to do a job not got emotional.

"As soon as we got to open water, that is the point where you can either kill the race or let them come back, so we made sure we put that race to bed there and then.

"It is an awesome feeling. I have been achieving quite a lot in the States and not so much here. So it is amazing to be with my family for such a special moment and to do it in front of them."

And his father Nick Digby was equally elated with the victory, adding: "I am delighted and I am proud. My heart is bursting from the run around from the Stewards' Enclosure!

"Tom has been wanting one of these for years, so it is a fantastic thing. When you want it for such a long time, when it happens it is much more important."

12.00pm update: Waiariki Rowing Club beat Leander Club & Imperial College London in the Remenham Challenge Cup

The New Zealand crew proved to be too good on this occasion for the GB Women's Eight, winning by one length and two thirds in the midday race.

The visitors opened up a formidable lead halfway through the course and continued to power their way to the finish line with ease.

Leander and Imperial matched them for pace at the start, but they were just unable to sustain it.

11.50am update: Leander Club A beat Henley Rowing Club A in the Fawley Challenge Cup

This local rivalry was expected to an even contest and it is Leander who have won by one and a quarter lengths.

Both crews are very familiar with this stretch of water, but the occasion of a regatta final will be something these young rowers will cherish for a long time.

All under the age of 18, the competitors were separated by just half a length earlier in the race, but this lead gradually extended.

These two crews came up against each other in May at nationals and it was Henley who won on this occasion, making Leander's victory on Finals Day all the more enjoyable.

Miles Devereux said: "It was a really successful day. We were really nervous this morning at breakfast. We had a really good practice race and a good warm-up.

"When we got to the start we were feeling so positive. That start was incredible. It was the best start we ever done. We pushed and pushed and pushed.

"To win it is an unbelievable moment."

Stephen Hughes, another member of the winning crew from Leander, added: "It is not really something you can explain. We stuck to our rhythm.

"It is a dream really, coming and having that start." 

8am update: Welcome to finals day of Henley Royal Regatta 2019!

Well it's been a thrilling week so far and the finally all the hard work is going to pay off for crews who've made the finals of this year's competitions. It's noticeably cooler than previous days, with the temperature out by the river right now just 11 degrees Celsius, and slightly breezy. By the time racing starts at 11.30am this will be a little warmer, with a high for the day forecast of around 21 degrees, which is cooler than some of the earlier heats and should make for ideal conditions for rowers on the water.

As ever, we will be giving you all the results, reaction and photos direct from the water of our local crews as they happen, so keep this page open or keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for all the latest updates.

We'll be covering seven local crews over the course of the day, starting with a local derby at 11.50am when Leander Club A will be taking on Henley Rowing Club A in the Fawley Challenge Cup. We'll also be covering the final of the Kings Challenge Cup, a special trophy to mark the centenary of the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta, and the first time military men and women have rowed in the same boat in an elite international competition.

Have you missed the action from the water from earlier in the week? Catch up with our coverage from yesterday (Saturday), FridayThursday and Wednesday

And if you haven't seen our regatta supplement in this week's paper yet let us whet your appetite with these articles about some of the rowers involved in this week's events who epitomise our hashtag of #localpride: 

- our profile of Leander vice-captain Will Satch who talks openly about his mental and physical fight to reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics;

- an interview with Henley-born Thomas Digby, who in his words was 'big and fat' before taking up rowing and is now a member of the GB under 23s squad and triple national US champion as a member of the Yale University crew;

- Leander's Karen Bennett on the moment she was chosen for the Olympics;

- and former regatta winner Katherine Douglas on what it's like to win on the Henley stage.

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