After a season of three-word slogans, lockdowns, tiers, and isolation, it is with a great sense of pride that I am sitting here writing this race report. We have, like all boat clubs, faced a great many challenges over the last two years. It is then a real testament to the dedication of those athletes who fully committed to this year that we were able to enter not one but three boats into Henley Royal Regatta. That we were able to walk away with the first win in a heat for the club since 2009 was, for us, the perfect end to the season.
The Qualifying Races saw our Prince Albert Challenge Cup entry take to the water in a slight drizzle with near one hundred per cent cloud cover; the canal had prepared them well. They were, if nothing else, grateful to the umpires for deciding to abandon “Met-Style” boating directly into the warm-up lake in favour of the pontoons one-third of the distance from the trailer. The crew of Gulliver Woods, Matthew Baker, Ben Curtis, Tom McCarthy and cox Ben Gompertz had studied the list of entries carefully and knew they would be up against it. They went out hard intending to showcase how far their rowing had come this year, especially for Beginner 2 athletes Matt and Tom. The final result: 11.0 seconds behind the fastest non-qualifier.
The Qualifying Races also saw Felix Rummel fighting for a place in the Diamond Challenge Sculls. Attempting to qualify for an open event was naturally a tough ask, but it was great to see one of our own take on the challenge. 13.6 seconds behind the fastest non-qualifier is no small achievement, representing the countless hours training solo in the 1x and on the ergo this year. You’ll get them next year Felix!
Our entry into the Temple Challenge Cup was rather unexpectedly not required to qualify owing to the reduced entry this year, prompting a monumental shift in focus and attention from Cameron Michie, Krishan Budhdeo, Tom Bobrowski, Oscar Pooley, Darioush Jalili, Stan Schofield, Rob Mercer, Daniel Crofton, and cox Anna Scott.
HRR21 Day 1
A favourable draw on the Wednesday of the J16 entry from Hampton School gave us hope of a good race. We suspected that we would be down off the start; we knew that our strength lay in maintaining, and then building on, our on-pace rhythm through the back half of the race. We visualised keeping our heads, waiting for the rhythm to click, and only then moving through the opposition. “Pretty ruthless, cold, calculated” was the tagline of the day from the commentary box with Hampton leading at the Barrier but with a verdict of four and one-quarter lengths in our favour. All credit to the boys from Hampton who went out hard and put us under precisely the kind of pressure that could have cost us the race.
HRR21 Day 2
Thursday saw the crew draw powerhouse of university rowing Oxford Brookes University. It was a real privilege to share the stage with a crew of such a high calibre, even if it was only partway up the island. The final verdict was three lengths to Brookes, and whilst one needn’t watch the video to understand how that came about, their dominance certainly didn’t stop us from giving it everything we had.
Lessons have been learnt, questions have been asked, the standard has been made clear. Winter is coming boys, get ready for the grind!
Author: Michael Thornton.