Inside Lines: Saturday 2nd July, 2011

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at HenleyToday’s racing includes a full programme of semi-finals starting at 09.30 and finishing at 19.30. There will be 42 races featuring world and Olympic champions and medallists as well as leading crews from Universities, Colleges, Schools and Clubs across the 19 events.Yesterday at HenleyIt was a stunning day at Henley and the crews racing here took every opportunity to set a hatful of new records. The women of Princeton Training Center showed what has made them the reigning Olympic champions by smashing their 2006 finish time by a full six seconds in the Remenham Challenge Cup.University of California, Berkeley’s sensational freshman crew continued to impress breaking both barrier and Fawey records early on. But they were reminded that this event is far from over, when their rivals from Harvard, later set a new finish record of 6.12.The morning’s session also saw the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup come alive, with Carboncini and Mornati of Italy nipping a second off Redgrave and Pinsent’s old Fawley time.Not to be outdone, Triggs-Hodge and Reed stormed to the Barrier at a rating of 41, breaking that record by two seconds.As the morning session progressed, it was hard to keep up with the records falling. The British double of Bateman and Wells had always looked set to break the Barrier record in their race in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup and it duly went. Their main opposition here, the reigning Olympic champions from Australia, didn’t break any records but still looked impressive.Later in the afternoon another British squad four wrote their names in the record book when they set new Barrier and finish records against a strong Australian lightweight crew in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup. The Australian’s top four here, who could face the British in Sunday’s final, were pushed all the way by the Swiss lightweights.Steering was a problem for both women’s quads in a heat of the Princess Grace Challenge Cup. The crews from the USA and China clashed just after the start. As the US steerswoman said, “my heart was in my mouth when we stopped because I thought one of us might get disqualified. But the umpire said we’d hit each other in neutral water and ordered a re-start”. The crew from the USA made no mistake the second time around.And there was a superb trademark sprint finish from the Aussie Dan Noonan, as he stroked his quadruple scull past the might of Poland’s Olympic champion crew – albeit without their usual stroke man Adam Karol – to win by 3/4 of a length in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.But there were much closer finishes than that, which thrilled the crowd. Hampton School’s brave effort in the Princess Elizabeth was ended by St Andrews School of the USA, who rowed through the Surrey school to win by a canvas. And Agecroft and Durham’s quad took their heat from Sport Imperial and Reading by just two feet in the Prince of Wales. In the process, they equalled the finish record – it was that sort of day!Redgrave records brokenThere aren’t many records in rowing that the five times Olympic champion, Sir Steve Redgrave, hasn’t broken.  The records which held a special place in his heart were the  times the Henley Steward had set at the Royal Regatta. Up until yesterday he still held four records in both double sculls and pairs. By 1220 on Friday 1 July, 2011, he had lost three and all that remained was the finish time of 6:56, that he and Matthew Pinsent set in a heat of the Silver Goblets in 1995.Earlier in the day, Redgrave had looked at the fast conditions, thought about the quality of the entries in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup event and reflected: ‘My old double sculls record is bound to go today.’ He’d set the time to the Barrier of 1:58 with Adam Clift way back in 1982. In fact it was the longest standing record in the book.It was fitting that he heard the news his record had fallen to Wells and Bateman, the British double scull, from Jurgen Grobler his old coach. But Britain’s Chief Coach for Men also had some surprising news for his former protégé.“It was about time that record went”, explained Redgrave to Grobler. The 49 year old then confidently added: ‘I think it will be a bit longer before my Goblets records go though.’ Quick as a flash, Grobler shot back: “You’ve lost one of them already. The Italians just took your Barrier record by a second”.Lorenzo Carboncini and Niccolo Mornati have impressed here this week with their superb pace and fluency of movement. Afterwards, they said: “We weren’t trying to break the record but conditions were very good at the start”. Then a couple of hours later their likely opponents in Sunday’s finals, Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge, made their own smash and grab raid on another of Redgrave’s records.“We’d done 2:01 to the barrier without trying yesterday”, said Pete Reed. The British pair kept the rating high at 41 strokes per minute this morning, in a deliberate  attempt to both break Redgrave and Pinsent’s record and send a signal to the Italians. They succeeded, breaking the time by two seconds. It now stands at 1:56. And to make it all the more sweet, their race – which they won comfortably – was umpired by none other than Sir Matthew Pinsent.Other records also tumbledRecords tumbled again at Henley yesterday and more could follow as two of the record-breaking American crews go head-to-head in the Temple.The University of California broke the records they set on Thursday to the Barrier (1:44) and Fawley (2:58) yesterday and today face the Harvard University freshman crew who broke the overall course record for the Temple Challenge Cup, yesterday finishing in 6mins 12 secs.George Gebhard from the Cal crew said: "We had a real nice tailwind. It was a good race. We knew Imperial were a really…

Pinsent and Redgrave’s records fall at Henley Royal Regatta

GB Rowing Team members gave the home crowd something to celebrate today at Henley Royal Regatta when they broke long-standing records held by Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matt Pinsent.Current world silver medallists Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells were two seconds quicker to the Barrier, at 1:56, than Redgrave and Adam Clift’s time set in 1982 in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.In the same morning session, their GB team-mates and Olympic men’s four champions Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed also reached the Barrier in 1:56 in their quarter-final of the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup for men’s pairs, shaving two seconds off the mark set by Redgrave and Pinsent in 1993.Britain then clocked up a trio of record-breaking performances when the current GB men’s four, rowing as Leander and Molesey Boat Club, smashed the Barrier record in their event, the Stewards’ Challenge Cup, posting 1:50.  They equalled the Fawley record of 3:05 and set a new record at the finish of 6:20 for the event.The four were racing a top pedigree lightweight Australian men’s four with whom they clashed just before the finish.Matt Langridge, Beijing Olympic silver medallist in the men’s eight, said:  "We got on top early on but they were never going to let us walk away," he said. "I suspect they got caught in our wash and sucked over at the end”.Italy also set a record to Fawley in the men’s pair event, showing that they could provide stiff opposition to Reed and Triggs Hodge should the pairs meet in Sunday’s final. First, though, Reed and Triggs Hodge will face the Gkountoulas twins from Greece in tomorrow’s semi-finals. The Greeks were bronze medallists behind winners Reed and Triggs Hodge at the season’s opening world cup in Munich.  “We will have to race hard to beat the Greeks”, said Reed.The Freshmen from University of California, Berkeley, again turned heads today when setting Barrier and Fawley records in the Temple Challenge Cup for University eights. Not to be outdone, their main rivals, Harvard, set a record to the finish in their quarter-final of the men’s eight whilst the American national women’s eight looked stunning when they set a record to the finish in the heats of the Remenham Challenge Cup in which they are racing as Princeton Training Center.Racing begins tomorrow in the Grand Challenge Cup for men’s eights. Australia, racing here as the Australian Institute of Sport, will seek to spoil the party for the GB men’s eight and stop them reaching Sunday’s final.  Britain is the reigning world silver medal crew but Australia cannot be underestimated.  The winner will probably face Germany, the world champions, on Sunday.Olympic champions Poland went out of the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for men’s quadruple sculls in the afternoon session today to the Australian Institute of Sport combination who now go through to face Croatia, the world champions, tomorrow.Britain also enters the fray for the first time in this event tomorrow taking on the Americans.Tomorrow’s racing includes a full programme of semi-finals starting at 09.30 and finishing at 19.00. There will be 44 races featuring world and Olympic champions and medallists as well as leading crews from Universities, Colleges, Schools and Clubs across the 19 events. The Finals take place on Sunday starting at 11.30am.Tomorrow’s tickets are sold-out but some places remain for Sunday.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387

Inside Lines: Friday 1st July, 2011

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at HenleyRacing starts at 08.30 with a full programme of quarter-finals. There are 64 races in store today finishing at 18.50.Temple crews steal big guns thunderOn the surface, yesterday was a day that should be remembered for the first appearance of some stellar international names. Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Pete Reed disposed of their opponents with some ease in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup.Earlier, Matthew Pinsent had supposed that his Barrier record of 1:58 might be under threat from the new British pair. In fact, Hodge and Reed’s time to the barrier was 2:01 and their coach confirmed that record-breaking had not been on his crew’s radar.The British pair’s most threatening opponents from Greece and Italy both looked impressive defeating pairs from Molesey Boat Club in a commanding fashion. With the Italians looked particularly impressive off the start.Alan Campbell controlled his race in the Diamond Sculls in a similar fashion – the British sculler explained that he is coming back into form after a disappointing result in the Munich World Cup last month. But while those British crews will undoubtedly set pulses racing at the weekend, yesterday it was left to the Freshmen of California, Berkeley to leave the enclosures breathless. The crew disposed of a very strong Dutch crew, breaking the Barrier and Fawley records on the way. Even more spice was added to the event when just one hour later another Dutch student crew, this time from Amsterdam, equalled the new Barrier record.There was no doubt that the first half performance of the Upper Yarra Rowing Club eight in the Thames Challenge Cup was little short of sensational. The Alex Henshilwood trained crew swept their American opponents aside, setting a mark of 1:47 to the Barrier. In a tight race in the same event, the unselected Molesey crew impressed in their 3/4 of a length victory over London ‘A’.There were surprises too in the junior events, with Canford School’s eight, nearly toppling the might of Eton College in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, going down by just half a length. On the other side of the draw, St Edwards’ School proved they are on the comeback trail with their victory over Kingston Grammar.But many of the cogniscenti will have been excited by sight of Australia’s top crews on the water at Henley for the first time. Unsurprisingly the experience of Henley had its own impact on the Australians, as the legendary Aussie Drew Ginn tweeted about his young crew’s practice: ‘Walked through a 1000m start practice and we went as straight as a die. Young guns loving the culture.’ Ginn’s crew open their account against the Swiss lightweights today.A record-breaking habitThe ghost of a smile crept across the mouth of Wyatt Allen when he heard that his Freshman crew had taken both Barrier and Fawley records on the way to defeating a strong Dutch eight. Not only was Cal Berkeley’s row in the Temple the day’s stand-out performance, it confirmed their status as one of the strong favourites to take the Temple Challenge Cup.Allen’s smile may have had something to do with the fact that he knows a thing or two about breaking record. In fact, he rowed in the ‘2’ seat of the US eight which set the world’s best time, while defeating their Canadian rivals in a heat at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Allen’s crew went on to become Olympic champions and the time his crew set then of 5:19.85 still stands today.“I remember that day as being really windy and rough”, recounted Allen, who went on to explain: ‘We hit the water a few times but finished in front. That’s what counted.’ It was enough for Allen’s then coach, the legendary Mike Teti, to ask his former crew member to help him coach at the University of California.“It’s been great working with Mike. He gives me enough space to do my thing. I have a very different coaching style to him”, said Allen.Andy HolmesToday, the greatest rower that the world has ever seen will paddle down the Henley Royal Regatta course in a Kingston Rowing Club four in a heartfelt tribute to the memory of the man who helped make him into the sporting legend he has become. Last November, Sir Steven Redgrave was a pall bearer at the funeral of Andy Holmes, the man who partnered him for two of his Olympic victories.Tragically, Holmes died from a waterborne disease aged just 51.  His premature death was not only a terrible blow to his family and friends but also to the world-wide rowing community. Amongst those men and women, the quietly spoken Holmes was known as British rowing’s tough man, someone who had a strong belief that British crews could compete with the very best and win gold medals.Holmes’ legacy, which he crafted with Redgrave, first in the coxed four in Los Angeles in 1984 and then four years later in the pair at the  Seoul Olympics has had a massive impact on British rowers since then – a fact acknowledged by Andrew Triggs Hodge and Katherine Grainger, when they recently visited Latymer Upper, Holmes’  old school.But Holmes was already making waves before he struck up his partnership with Redgrave. In 1981, he stunned the world as part of a Kingston Rowing four, which fearlessly led the formidable world champions from East Germany through the 1000m mark at the 1981 World Championships. Before that, they’d lifted the Prince Philip Cup at Henley.It was a 30th anniversary that Holmes would have relished. Now, his old crew have re-formed, with Redgrave, to mark the anniversary of their remarkable year and the passing of an amazing rower.View from the Press BoxHer Majesty's Press has once again walked on water as eager scribblers braved the elements to perch in the eyrie that shall be known as "The Box". Hovering above the river at the end of the course in line with the Berkshire station booms it is…

Press Release – Thursday 30th June

Records fall at Henley in the Temple Challenge CupThe Freshmen of University of California, Berkeley, departed the script of warm-up to the Olympic stars by breaking records this morning in the Temple Challenge Cup, beating a strong Dutch crew in the process.They reached the Barrier in 1:46 and Fawley in 3:00 and finished in 6:21.  Exactly an hour later another Dutch University crew, A.S.R Nereus, put spice into the future rounds of this fiercely-contested event by equalling the Californians’ time.For Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed, Britain’s world men’s pair silver medallists and Olympic men’s four champions, today marked a gentle start to their Henley campaign. They beat a Worcester Rowing Club pair comfortably in the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge. Alan Campbell, from the GB team, was similarly untroubled in the Diamond Challenge Sculls.Triggs Hodge and Reed’s most threatening opposition, from Greece and Italy, both looked impressive in defeating pairs from Molesey Boat Club – of which Triggs Hodge is Captain.The Upper Yarra Rowing Club eight in the Thames Challenge Cup also caught spectators’ attention.  They swept their American opponents aside, setting a mark of 1:47 to the Barrier.Tomorrow’s racing includes a full programme of quarter-finals. The semi-finals are on Saturday and the Finals take place on Sunday starting at 11.30am.Tickets are available in the Regatta Enclosure priced from £15.00 for Friday and Sunday but Saturday is sold out.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387

Inside Lines: Thursday 30th June, 2011

Inside Lines: Thursday 30 June, 2011Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at Henley – Big guns join the frayAfter a successful day of exciting club, school, college and University rowing yesterday some big international guns appear for the first time today. All eyes on the AussiesAustralians were the talk of the boathouses yesterday.  All eyes were on their nation’s biggest ever Henley contingent, including many top 2012 medal contenders with many crews and rowers wondering just how strong they will be.  “It’s worked out perfectly for us”, said Australian team manager Ray Ebert, “to be able to race here and then at Lucerne next weekend.  We’re really looking forward to it”.Heart-rending but back for moreIt was one of the most heart-rending stories of last year’s Regatta when London RC’s Wyfold Challenge Cup four, the overwhelming pre-race favourites, were battered in the final by a brutal headwind and lost what should have been a race-winning lead to Nottingham and Union Rowing Club.Three of that crew are back this year, rowing as LRC ‘A’ and you’d expect them to still be sore. But talk to Alex Cawthorne, one of the survivors of that race, and he insists that he, his crew and club have put that race well behind them.“It’s safe to say that the three of us who were in it last year have drawn a line under that race. It’s a different crew, we’re stronger and we’ve all had another year to develop”, explained Cawthorne. His crew certainly looked in great shape, beating Reading Rowing Club to open their account on Wednesday afternoon. And as Cawthorne said: ‘It was good start to the Regatta well.  We executed what we’d planned and we went down the course taking in the atmosphere and getting some confidence on day one”.That confidence has been built by changing their pattern of racing and training from 2010. ‘Last year, we entered senior races and won them all, so we weren’t put under pressure. This year, we’ve entered elite all season and been beaten but learnt how to handle the pressure”, he said.At the end of their race, the LRC crew, while leading comfortably sprinted in the last 20 strokes. To Cawthorne, that was a sign of how much more professional his crew have become.  “Last year we never had to sprint for the line. Now we want to make sure we do everything right”.The world was not Clarke’s oyster after Karapiro successFor most of the British team that raced at the 2010 Karapiro World Championships, this year’s Henley Royal Regatta represents a crucial staging post on the road to Olympic qualification. But for one man, who took silver in the British eight inNew Zealand, the Royal Regatta has a very different feel.When he returned from New Zealand, the world should have been James Clarke’s oyster. Instead, it was blown apart when he found his body couldn’t take the immensely tough training regime he was asking it to go through. “I’ve had over-training syndrome”, explained Clarke, who went on to say: ‘I was told that I had to take a complete rest to give my system time to recover.’That was tough for an athlete who is only 24, let alone one who has already won a world gold as a lightweight and competed in the Beijing Olympics to boot. And Clarke does not disguise that fact that it took him some months to accept the fact that he would not be part of the British team during the 2011 season.“When I finally accepted it, I realised that I could come back to rowing as a coach”, he explained.  He is coaching London Rowing Club’s “A” crew in the Thames Challenge Cup. “I wanted to support the club, who have been really good to me in the past. Already it’s taught me so much. From the bank you can really see how simple the rowing stroke is. It’s when you’re in the boat that you tend to over-complicate things”, he said after making a winning start here today against Reading R.C.He is also now at least able to look forward to the strong possibility that he will be back training in the national squad in time for the London Games. Now that would be a result!From Eton to MelbourneThough he’s been coaching Melbourne University for a year, most of the Henley crowd know Alex Henshilwood as the man who took Eton College’s superb eights to back to back Henley wins in 2009 & 2010.Now the former British world medallist is seen as the coach of one of Australia’s most feared crews at Henley – the Yarra R.C. eight that are looking to take home the Thames Challenge Cup.Melbourne University is an “open club” catering for both students of the University as well as non-students.  With the Henley Rules this “openness” means that genunine Melbourne students can row in the Temple or Prince Albert Cup Challenge Cups while their non-students have to compete as Upper Yarra R.C.“What I love about this Yarra crew is that they’re such feisty aggressive racers. And usually, my role is to keep them calm”, said Henshilwood, who admitted that a lot has happened to him in the last year: “I’ve had the chance to work with some of the world’s best rowers, like Drew Ginn, David Crawshay and Josh Dunkley Smith”, he said.“I guess it will take another year before somebody might say that this crew looks like a Henshilwood crew. But I’ve been working hard to make some significant changes at Melbourne University already. I’ve worked hard to get them to develop a different race profile and we do much less square blade rowing now, so the stroke has a longer, flatter profile”,  he said.Henshilwood is delighted  that the Yarra rowers are sharing the same boat bay as his former school: “I was out on the bike, with Molesey’s Ben Lewis, watching my crew win their first round and Eton’s Temple eight were in the very next race. As I cycled…

Inside Lines: Wednesday 29 June, 2011

Inside Lines: Wednesday 29 June, 2011Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at Henley – A feast in storeWelcome to the 162nd Henley Royal Regatta.  We have world and Olympic champions amongst the 302 crews competing in 294 races over the next five days which look set to be a feast of rowing. Last chance to see world’s top crews on British waters before 2012The draw for the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta confirmed what many already knew. Whether or not you scored tickets for the Olympic rowing in 2012, there is just one chance to see the world’s top crews compete in Britain before the London Games – that comes during this week’s Henley Royal Regatta, where a host of current Olympic and World champions will go head to head against some of the world’s top ranked rowers in a bid to test their mettle for next year’s Games.Add to that mix some of the world’s most outstanding club, student and schoolboy rowers – some of them will be future Olympians – and you’ll understand why the 2011 Regatta draw has thrown up some outstanding contests. So the famous course over which the 1948 Olympic Regatta was contested – the last occasion that the Games were held in Britain – gets ready to welcome the crowds for 5 glorious days of racing.Some stunning contests aheadIf the draw’s selected crews reach the finals, there could be some stunning contests, chief of which will be the Grand Challenge Cup, where Germany, the current world eights’ champions, rowing as Hansa Dortmund, may well face the British crew that took silver, only feet behind them in last year’s World Championships. Both boats face tough struggles just to make Sundays finals: the Germans face the USA’s top crew on Saturday, while the Molesey and Leander crew, containing the veteran and Henley Steward Greg Searle, must first get past Australia’s top eight.The Aussie entry at Henley is sensational. No more so than in the Stewards’ Challenge cup, where a four containing their very best rowers are seeded in the other half of the draw to a boat which, if their training times are anything to go by, is Britain’s hottest new crew. The Australian combination contains rowing legend and double Olympic champion Drew Ginn. The former member of Australia’s famous Oarsome Foursome, teams up here with the sensational talent of Aussie newcomer, Josh Dunkley-Smith.But with the incomparable Tom James sitting in the Leander and Molesey four, the British have their own pool of talent to draw on. Both crews though must face world-class opposition from Belarus, the USA and Switzerland if they are to progress to the final. Sadly, though, the Australian Olympic champion, Duncan Free, who was to have been rowing with Ginn and Dunkley-Smith, broke his leg in a cycling accident before the Regatta and will have to watch this fascinating event unfold from the sidelines.However, another Aussie Olympian who struck gold in Beijing comes back off the sidelines at Henley. After a two-year break, Scott Brennan is re-united with his Beijing crewmate David Crawshay. If, as expected, they fight their way through to the Sunday, they could contest the Double Sculls final against Marcus Bateman and Matthew Wells, Britain’s top double scull who took a superb silver in last year’s world championships.And if you thought this Regatta was all about the Australians, look no further than the Queen Mother Cup, where the quadruple sculls event boasts a stellar array of talent. The surprisingly un-seeded Polish Olympic champions, will race Australia on Friday and then look set to face Croatia, the current world champions on Saturday. A potential clash with the British or American quads awaits these crews on Sunday.British billingIt’s unusual for Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Peter Reed, two of Britain’s Beijing Olympic champions, to have to settle for lower billing amongst the list of contests, especially as to win the Silver Goblets, they must beat two world bronze medallists from Greece. But the British pair will hope to maintain this season’s winning streak before they are expected to face their Kiwi rivals in the Lucerne regatta following Henley. The Diamond Sculls will provide a similar proving ground for Ulsterman Alan Campbell, who must fight his way past three Australian scullers for the coveted title.Britain’s women’s eight know that they must fight all the way down the course, too, as they face an outstanding crew from the USA in the Remenham Challenge Cup. The USA are the current world and Olympic champions, while the British posted a very strong showing in the recent Munich World Cup. In the Princess Royal, Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic must overcome Alexandra Tsiavou, Greece’s world champion lightweight sculler, to reach an expected final against Femke Decker, the powerful Dutch rower, who has turned her hand to sculling this year. And the withdrawal of Britain’s world champion quadruple scull may seem to have left the way clear for Australia to take the Princess Grace title – although the Americans will also want to have their say.Fierce club competitionsThe top club events are expected to provide the fiercest competition. In the Ladies’ Plate, the all-conquering Harvard eight from the USA look set to meet Britain’s fastest club eight from Leander in a mouth-watering Saturday clash, while the very slick German crew from Berliner and ORC Rostock could await the winner in Sunday’s final.In the Visitors Challenge Cup, look out for the Leander and Imperial College four, who will start their campaign on Thursday. This crew will believe they can win this event, despite the power of the Oxford Brookes and Molesey crew who look their probable Saturday opponents.Wednesday’s racing as always will be fast and furious. Spectators will get their first chance to see the form of the fancied Molesey eight coxed by Rowley Douglas, who steered the British eight to gold in the Sydney Olympics. Douglas, who hopes to cox Britain’s eight in the London Games, has been very impressed with the speed of his boat…

Henley is the last chance to see world’s best crews on British water before 2012

Olympic rowing tickets have sold out but there is still one chance left to see some of the world’s top rowers – including all the GB men’s Olympic boats – in action on British waters before 2012 at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta starting from tomorrow (29 June – 3 July).Britain’s Olympic gold medallists Tom James, racing in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours, Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed, competing in the men’s pair event, will join top-flight boats from the USA, Australia and Germany amongst others on the stretch of water that hosted the last home Olympics in 1948.Over 1,600 rowers in 302 crews, including 97 overseas entries and a host of World and Olympic champions, will savour the Henley experience this year which Sir Steve Redgrave once described as “the nearest rowers get to racing in a football stadium”.“Henley is very special and the great thing is the atmosphere on race days”, said Regatta Chairman Mike Sweeney.“The crowds are almost on the end of the rowers’ blades along the river bank. It’s side-by-side and quite gladiatorial. It’s just a tunnel of noise and quite amazing”.Extra spice has been added to the Regatta this year with many overseas and British crews seeing the Regatta as part of their build-up to the World Championships, starting in Slovenia in late August, which doubles as the Olympic qualifying regatta.“It is incredibly important this year that rowers secure their nation’s Olympic place. So getting the planning right is important and it is great that so many are making Henley part of those plans”, added Sweeney.Racing at Henley is conducted on a knock-out basis. There are also events for the all the top University, College, Club and School crews with future stars, including rowers like 2010 Henley Royal Regatta schoolboy eights winner Constantine Louloudis who today got his first GB world cup call-up today, often making their name for the first time.If the draw’s selected (similar to seeded) crews reach the finals, there could be some stunning contests, chief of which will be the Grand Challenge Cup, where Germany, the current world eights’ champions, rowing as Hansa Dortmund, may well face the British crew that took silver, only feet behind them in last year’s World Championships.The British eight of course features 1992 Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle who is making his comeback to international rowing after a gap of 10 years with the aim of winning gold in London 20 years after his last Olympic victory.But both boats face tough struggles just to make Sunday’s finals. The Germans will race the USA’s top crew on Saturday, while the British, rowing as Molesey and Leander, must first get past Australia’s top eight.Britain will also face scintillating opposition with their arch Olympic rivals Australia in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours.  James rows in this event with 2009 World Champions Alex Gregory, Ric Egington and Matt Langridge. Australia, meanwhile, have a four containing their very best rowers who are “seeded” in the opposite half of the draw to GB and include double Olympic Champion Drew Ginn, a member of the previous Oarsome Foursome, as well as top newcomer Josh Dunkley-Smith.The Australians have also re-formed their Beijing–winning men’s double scull of Scott Brennan and David Crawshay who will provide a tough test for Britain’s 2011 world silver medallists Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells if both crews progress.Perhaps the most stellar field, though, at this year’s Regatta comes in the Queen Mother’s Challenge Cup for men’s quadruple sculls.  Croatia, the World Champions, and Poland, the Olympic Champions, are joined by top Australian and American crews as well as Great Britain’s Sam Townsend, Bill Lucas, Stephen Rowbotham and Tom Solesbury – the first three of whom were last year in the first British crew for almost three decades to reach a World Championships Final in this event.World Champions, the USA, will contest the women’s eight event, the Remenham Challenge Cup, at Henley this week providing a developing British combination with the chance to test their mettle against the world’s best before the world cup finals in Lucerne in mid-July.Early rounds of racing take place on Wednesday and Thursday with quarter-finals on Friday and semi-finals on Saturday. The Finals take place on Sunday starting at 11.30am and there are 293 races on the programme of events over the five days of the Regatta.Tickets are available in the Regatta Enclosure priced from £15.00 for all days bar Saturday which is already sold out.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387

New Boat Licence Scheme

There have been changes to the arrangements for the licensing of rowing craft and Henley Royal Regatta can no longer provide temporary licences to competing crews.

An Environment Agency Licence MUST be fixed to every boat competing or training at the Regatta. Boats must have been registered and paid for through the British Rowing / E.A. Boat Licensing Scheme. Licences can be obtained from the British Rowing website – http://www.britishrowing.org/boat-licences.