The draw for the 184th Henley Royal Regatta held today at Henley Town Hall has set up intriguing matchups across the 26 events. The competition features 420 crews from 17 nations, including Olympic and world championship medalists, making it a highly anticipated event.
Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, emphasized that there are no easy draws at Henley, given the immense depth in quality and the increasing pressure on the competing crews each day.
Great Britain, fresh from their success at the World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy, will have strong representation in most of the open events. The draw has resulted in captivating contests, especially with the Paris 2024 Olympics on the horizon.
In the Men’s Quad Sculls event, Great Britain’s boat has a relatively easier draw compared to the world champions, Poland, who have to face the Canadian quad.
The Remenham Challenge Cup, the elite women’s eights event, promises tough competition. Great Britain’s boat, consisting of members from Marlow R.C. & Leander Club, is on the same side of the draw as Canada’s Maple Bay Rowing Club. Hollandia Roeiclub from the Netherlands, with their talented Under-23 rowers, stands out in the top half. However, Princeton, the third-place finisher in the USA’s national college championships, is expected to put up a strong fight.
In the Men’s Pair event, Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George, Britain’s top pair and childhood friends who recently won gold in Varese, are the favorites. However, international competition is fierce, making the outcome far from certain.
The Town Challenge Cup, the Women’s Coxless Fours event, will be closely watched, with Helen Glover, Britain’s double Olympic champion, and her crew (comprised of Heidi Long, Sam Redgrave, and Rebecca Shorten from Leander Club and Imperial College London) being the hot favorites. They recently secured a silver medal in Varese and have been drawn in a different half from their strongest challengers, a Leander Club boat filled with U23 talent.
While the presence of Olympic talent is significant, the junior events at Henley this year promise six thrilling days of competition. In a notable rule change, clubs, along with schools, have been allowed to enter The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eights). A USA club has a chance to become the champion by Sunday. St Edward’s School, the winners of the national championships, will be focused on defending their title against domestic rivals, including Eton College and Radley College. They will also face tough competition from Greenwich Crew, USA, who have shown great form.
The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women’s Eights) is expected to be stronger than last year, making it even more challenging for the domestic crews who failed to reach the 2022 final. Headington School, the inaugural winners of this trophy, are the favorites after a successful season, including victories at the Women’s Head, the National Schools Regatta, and Henley Women’s Regatta. Their main challengers are likely to be Henley Rowing Club and Greenwich Crew, USA, who have performed exceptionally well in the United States this year.
The Men’s Double Sculls event, known as the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, features a formidable Spanish heavyweight double, Aleix Garcia Pujolar & Rodrigo Conde Romero. They are the silver medalists from the 2022 World and European Championships but faced a fifth-place finish at the 2023 European Championships in May. Aidan Thompson and John Collins from Great Britain will provide a mix of youth and experience as their potential challengers.
The combined German-Ukraine eight from Deutscher Ruder-Club von 1884 e.V. Hannover is expected to be a standout crew in the Club Men’s Eights event (The Thames Challenge Cup). They have been drawn against qualifiers Leeds Rowing Club but will face a highly competitive field, requiring an exceptional performance to advance to the weekend stages.
The significance of the qualifying races held on Friday is not to be underestimated, as 440 crews competed for only 130 places in a time-trial format over the 2,112-meter course.
The draw has created anticipation with the inclusion of Matt Brigham, the Leeds University student who famously defeated New Zealand’s double Olympic champion Mahé Drysdale in 2019. However, it would be a remarkable feat if Brigham were to overcome Germany’s Oliver Zeidler, the men’s single sculls world champion and winner of The Diamonds at Henley last year. Zeidler is considered the favorite for a third title, and Brigham has been drawn on the same side, adding to the excitement surrounding their potential matchup.
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