Henley Women’s Regatta 2018
What a weekend. The sun shone, the conditions were excellent, and although Thames did not come away with a HWR trophy this year, 2018 will still go down as one of the most successful years in recent history for the women’s squad. We qualified 10 crews, featuring 41 athletes, for the side-by-side racing. A total of 21 athletes in five boats made the semi-final stage, more than any other club, and three crews (15 athletes) reached the finals.
All but two of the 12 crews entered made it through the qualifying races. The Junior 2x was the second-fastest non-qualifying crew by just 0.5 seconds which, given the fact that the girls are still only J16 and J17, is a good achievement and promises well for next year. Meanwhile the Aspirational 2x B crew of Hayley and Becci were justifiably proud of the level they had reached in only a few weeks together.
The Championship 4x started their campaign on Saturday with a two-length verdict over a composite from London RC and Switzerland. On Sunday they sculled well in a straightforward win over University of London in the semi-finals. In the final they met Newcastle University, who had prevailed over Leander by 1/2 length in the semi. Newcastle took a slight lead at the start and hung on throughout the race, winning by 1/2 length again.
Championship Lightweight 2-
Having received a bye to the semi-final stage, Iona and Lowenna comfortably beat a CUWBC pair to take them through to the final. Here they faced a smooth crew from Commercial RC, Ireland, who just edged the start and extended the lead to just one length at the finish. It was a solid and gutsy performance from our women against a good pair.
Didi and Jordan both qualified through the time trials only to receive tough first-round draws. Didi lost to a fellow Australian from Sydney University who finished the regatta as the runner-up, while Jordan had a superb race against an experienced sculler from Molesey but did not quite have the speed to beat her.
Aspirational Club 8+
The time trial was used for seeding after the original 17 entries dropped down to 15. A good performance gave our A crew a comfortable heat and quarter-final against Auriol Kensington and Curlew. In the semi-finals they faced Cantabrigian, who had dispatched the Thames B crew (all from the novice squad) in the first round. The Cantabs crew included several members of their winning 2017 Intermediate Club 8+ boat and they took the race to Thames, getting out to a slight early lead and holding it down the enclosures. The Thames women dug deep, drew level and eventually prevailed by just one foot. In the final they faced the fancied Tideway Scullers School 8 which had beaten them at the Met Regatta. Despite their best row of the regatta our women were overpowered by an exceptionally strong crew.
Aspirational Club 4-
It was a weekend of drama for the Aspirational Club 4-. In their heat, their opponents from Tideway Scullers clipped the booms, enabling our crew to row smoothly away for a comfortable win. They beat Lea B in the quarter-final and faced Lea A in the semi-final. Lea drifted into Thames’ water off the start, with blades interlocking. While both crews kept rowing the Thames rhythm was disrupted and they could not quite get back on to it. Despite the Thames women throwing everything they had at the race, Lea held on for a 1 1/2 length win. The final was won by our neighbours Vesta.
Since their racing debut at Met this crew had improved rapidly. After qualifying, they found themselves drawn against Tideway Scullers, a crew they knew would be fast. The Thames 4x got off to a good start but unfortunately clipped the buoys on their Berkshire station and could never quite get back on terms with their opponents.
Aimee and Megan also had straightforward races in the heat and quarter-final, beating a Scottish composite and then a crew from Drexel University in the USA. In the semi-final they raced a 2x from KSRV Njord in the Netherlands who proved to be extremely quick. The Thames 2x had a good scull regardless. Njord’s winning margin was increased in their final.
With 42 crews starting the time trial for just 16 places, simply qualifying would be an achievement. The Thames crew duly attacked the race and were thrilled to find they had made it through. In the heats they drew Molesey, a crew with more experience and a little more power. Our women led off the start before Molesey edged through. Although they lost, it was heartening to see that the race was the fastest of the round.