Thursday, June 27, 2013
Henley Entries: Huskies v Bulldogs?
Tim Koch, who right now is getting ready for Henley Royal Regatta, writes,
The list of crews that have entered for this year’s Henley Royal Regatta are now on the HRR website together with a press release commenting on the list. Entries are a little down on 2012, the year of the London Olympics, but there are still 470 hopefuls, 383 British and 87 foreign. As usual the club, student and school events are oversubscribed and numbers will be reduced by time trials over the Henley course on Friday, 28 June. Not all entrants will have to do these ‘qualifiers’. On Sunday, 23 June the Regatta Committee of Management met to ‘seed’ international crews and to ‘pre select’ some others. Those who will have to race for times on the 28 are listed here. Henley Chairman Mike Sweeney gives helpful advice on how to avoid having to doing qualifying races. He explains the ‘pre selection’ procedure:
The Stewards gather information from the results of the major Head Races during the winter and then from the major Regattas during the spring and through to the closing date for entries in June. However.... it is not realistic to try to assimilate all of the thousands of results into one data base. Indeed, with all the crew changes.... that take place between March and June it would be completely pointless to try to assemble such a database. Therefore, not surprisingly, the key results that are considered by the Stewards are those from the major Regattas held during April, May and the first two weeks of June.
On 19 June, I wrote about how the all conquering University of Washington had decided to enter its top crew in Henley’s premier eights event, The Grand Challenge Cup, rather than in The Ladies’ or The Temple. We now know that their opponents will be the Polish National Eight and a GB National Eight. The latter will include three of the London Gold Medal winning four, Andy Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory. At the Dorney round of the World Cup on Sunday, they beat the Poles. I, perhaps like many of the British rowing fraternity in the crowd at Henley, will have difficulty in deciding who to support. Our patriotic duty will, of course, be to GB (rowing as Leander and Molesey) but the Brits like an underdog – so Washington may get a bigger cheer than they expect.
The women’s open eights event, the Remenham Challenge Cup, has attracted twelve entries (to be reduced to eight by qualifying races). It is notable that the open eights event at Henley Women’s Regatta attracted only two ill matched entries. While the lure of a win at Henley Royal is obviously a big thing, it is a shame that the top event at the world’s only major regatta for women is not properly supported.
The Diamond Challenge Sculls, the men’s open single event, should be the best in years with entries from Mahe Drysdale (1st in the single sculls in the London Olympics), Alan Campbell (3rd), Aleksandar Aleksandrov (5th) and Marcel Hacker (6th). Added to this mix is Joseph Sullivan (1st in the double sculls in London) and Duncan Grant (three times World Lightweight Champion).
Going through the entries I see that they will produce a bigger challenge than usual for the HRR race commentator. As anyone who has attended Henley Royal will know, the commentary is, as you may expect, very restrained and what many people imagine to be typically British. It is entirely factual, never deviating from the formula of giving the times and relative positions of the boats at set places on the course. No opinion, analysis or emotion is conveyed in the commentary. The only deviation from the British stereotype is the fact that ‘difficult’ foreign names are pronounced clearly and confidently – all be it in an impeccably English accent. The British are very impressed by any of their countrymen who can do more than order beer in a foreign tongue and the Henley crowd greets such pronunciations with a loud cheer. This year there will be such appreciation shown for the announcement of Wojskowy Klub Sportowy Zawisza and Regionalne Towarzystwo Wioślarskie Lotto, Poland, in the Grand, Rheinisch Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen University, Germany, in the Temple and Roeivereeniging Studenten Vreie Universiteit Okeanos and Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus, Holland in the Visitors’. Henley is unfazed by such things as they have been (mostly) welcoming overseas visitors since 1872.