The number of female rowers entering the 2023 Henley Royal Regatta will be twice that of 2019, reflecting the growing strength and popularity of both the sport and the three new women’s events created in 2021. There are 1,400 women in 239 crews registered.
Entries closed on Monday, 12 June with 732 Entries from 17 nations registered overall, the second highest ever in its 184-year history. There are a record 581 domestic Entries and 151 international, with 61 from the USA and a first-ever representation for Zimbabwe.
“The doubling of the number of female rowers is a testament to the successful introduction of Prince Philip (Junior Women’s Eights), the Island (Student Women’s Eights), and the Wargrave (Club Women’s Eights) in 2021,” Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, said.
“It is more than just numbers though. This is about helping to establish pathways from the junior level to the elite squads and keeping our athletes in the sport. The talent is there, the numbers are growing, and there are events for them to grow into. We are excited to see that women’s participation is set to expand further over time.”
Those pathways from junior to elite rowing, male and female, will be even clearer at the 2023 Regatta than normal with the Paris 2024 Olympics just over a year away.
Giving the junior women’s crews someone to look up to will be one woman who has been all the way to the summit, twice – Helen Glover, Britain’s double Olympic champion, racing in The Town Challenge Cup. The 36-year-old is making her second comeback, underlining her class and form by taking silver in the women’s coxless four in the European Championships in Slovenia in May.
Great British barometer
This year will be a barometer for British rowing’s Olympic hopes with Great Britain well-represented in most of the open events. It will be a last chance to see the crews together at Henley with the Paris 2024 Olympics just over a year away.
With another strong international entry, there will be many fascinating head-to-heads up the famous 2,112-metre Course at Henley-on-Thames. This will particularly be the case in The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Quad Sculls), where the top boats from Britain, Canada, and reigning World Champions Poland will compete.
“Every edition of Henley Royal Regatta is unique, but a Regatta in a year before the Olympics is always significant,” Redgrave said. “We really see where crews are in their preparations, and the difference at Henley is that the gladiatorial nature of the racing means there are no hiding places. And, of course, this is the last chance to see the British squad before Paris.”
This year is also a chance for the large contingent of under-23 competitors to experience a pre-Olympic Regatta as they begin their journey to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Britain’s Iwan Hadfield (Oxford University & Leander Club) in the Ladies’ Plate and Harry Geffen (Yale University) in the Silver Goblets will be two to watch.
The family Zeidler
There will be fewer sterner examinations of body and mind than racing side-by-side with Germany’s Oliver Zeidler. The 26-year-old is the men’s single sculls current World Champion and the winner of The Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley last year. This year he is joined by his younger sister, Marie-Sophie (24), who is hoping to qualify for Paris in the women’s quadruple sculls and will be competing in her first Henley in The Princess Royal Challenge Cup.
Combined international crews can spring surprises too, and after the success of the Polish-Ukraine entry in The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women’s Double Sculls) last year, there is a well-established combined German-Ukraine eight, in The Thames Challenge Cup (Club Men’s Eights).
PE rule change – will the era of Eton College and St Paul’s School be challenged?
A rule change in The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eights) means that for the first time clubs, as well as schools, have been allowed to enter. St Paul’s School, the champions last year and Eton College have won seven out of the last eight Regattas but from now on they will have to face crews like Seattle USA’s Green Lake – whose schoolboy-aged eight performed admirably in the Thames (Club Men’s Eight) last year.
“We made this rule change to broaden the pathways in the Junior Men’s Eights,” Redgrave said.
“Again it both reflects and will hopefully encourage the talent in many clubs around the world and raise the standard of this famous event even higher.”
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