Henley Women’s Regatta 2010

Both quantity and quality are the themes of the 23rd Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) which takes place on 18th-20th June this year.  While a record-breaking eight events will need to undergo qualification rounds on the Friday morning to bring numbers down, entries also feature some well-known names from the GB squad plus an increase in crews coming to race from outside the UK, many having secured national championship titles in their own countries.

Last year’s rule changes have continued to yield a robust entry in most elite and senior level events.  Twelve crews are fielded in the GP Jeffries Cup for senior eights including three from Ireland and one each from the USA and the Netherlands, as well as the successful Durham University and Vesta crews from this year’s Metropolitan Regatta. 

The USA, Ireland, Netherlands and Australia feature heavily across the whole regatta, with well over 10% of competitors coming from overseas including a crew from Gentse RS, the first Belgian entry for many years and winners of this year’s Belgian Championships; they will be vying against four others including a Henley, ‘Star and Arrow’ and Upper Thames composite for the elite quad sculls’ Borne Cup. 

Making the long trip from Australia to compete in the Bea Langridge junior quad sculls are three of Gippsland Grammar School’s Australian National Championship winning crew, with the fourth place made up from Sacred Heart College, Geelong.  A tough entry in the event promises no easy ride, especially as they could end up meeting recent British National Schools champions Latymer in the semi finals.

Also in junior rowing, US scholastic champions Egg Harbor Township are competing in a talented field of 14 for the Groton School junior coxed fours, again potentially meeting the National Schools champions Aberdeen in the Sunday morning semis. 
 
Making an appearance on the comeback trail from injury is Laura Greenhalgh, who races in the George Innes Cup elite single sculls for London Rowing Club; she has been a regular in the GB lightweight quad over the past three years, accruing World Championship silver medals in 2007 and 2009.

In the other half of the elite single sculls draw is Melanie Wilson from Imperial College, who came 10th in this year’s first world cup in Bled, Slovenia.  Accompanying her, also from Imperial College and, like Melanie, studying medicine, is Mathilde Pauls, silver medallist in the GB lightweight quad at the 2007 World Championships, winner of the 2005 under-23 World Championships in the lightweight double, and former winner at Henley Women’s Regatta in 2006 in lightweight single sculls. Both are coached by Steve Trapmore who himself stroked the memorable Olympic gold-medal-winning GB men’s eight at Sydney in 2000.

The Redgrave Cup elite pairs entry from Cardiff University, under the tutelage of national high performance development coach for the Welsh Amateur Rowing Association Ian Shore, contains Imogen Evans, who despite rowing just 18 months has been trialing for the GB under-23s in Belgium, and Emma Cockroft, former pennant winner in the pairs, fours and eights head of the river races.

They team up with Oxford Brookes’ Copas Cup elite coxed four to form the largest part of a Brookes, Cardiff University and Thames composite, the only UK-based entry in the Sports Council elite eights event this year.  They face hot competition from three American crews – Grand Valley from Michigan, and Drexel and St Josephs from Pennsylvania, St Josephs having won the trip to Henley following success at their 72nd Annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta.  With the winner potentially pre-qualifying for Henley Royal Regatta’s Remenham Cup event, this will be a sought-after prize.
  
HWR chairman Diane Graham says the success of the regatta is down to the way it has adapted and evolved to provide a variety of athletes with the very best competition. “We have to offer something that can’t be found at other events across the world,” she says.

“Even as a less experienced rower competing for the first time at the event, you can rub shoulders with counterparts from across the Atlantic. As an elite oarswoman, match racing – one on one – offers another level of psychological battle that can’t be found on the multi-lane rowing lakes. As a spectator, you get a chance to appreciate the sheer athleticism and achievement of these rowers from vastly different backgrounds, brought together by the sport.”

The regatta is yet again kindly hosted by the Copas Partnership; the family said they were very pleased to see another strong field of crews at the regatta.  Qualification time trials will start on Friday morning (18 June), with racing commencing in the afternoon. The finals will be held on Sunday afternoon and this year will feature a charity guest race held at 3pm between Countdown’s Susie Dent and the BBC’s Geraldine Peers – who will have each had only four lessons in sculling before they race; they will be teaming up with former Olympians Miriam Batten and Sarah Winckless respectively.

All races can be followed on the water from the umpire’s launch, booked from the Start Control tent for only £3. Access to the regatta is from Remenham Lane in Henley, by the Angel pub. More information can be found on the Henley Women’s Regatta website