UK Olympians at Henley

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The highly anticipated Henley Royal Regatta commences today, marking less than a year until the Paris 2024 Olympics. With an increase in the scale and quality of women’s entry, along with a rule change, this year’s races promise to be as competitive as ever in the event’s 184-year history.
A total of 420 crews from 17 nations, spanning all levels of rowing from junior to open, will compete in 394 head-to-head knockout races across 26 events over the course of six days.
The renowned 2,112-meter Course on Henley-on-Thames will serve as the battleground for these thrilling competitions.
Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, expressed the excitement of the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta, welcoming athletes and supporters from around the world. He anticipates excellent racing conditions throughout the week, with a tailwind on the first day and a subsequent headwind that will test the thoroughness of winter training.
Over 300,000 spectators are expected to line the riverbanks, as rowers attest to the unparalleled experience of emerging from the tree-lined banks in front of the Enclosures, just 400 meters from the finish line.
The Draw has set the stage for captivating contests right from the first-morning session, featuring numerous Great Britain crews, Olympic medalists, and at least 19 world champions. Later in the week, Helen Glover, Britain’s double Olympic champion, will headline The Town Challenge Cup (Women’s Coxless Four), competing alongside the next generation of Olympic hopefuls who have already established their Henley pedigree and may gain worldwide recognition after Paris.
Newark Rowing Club, celebrating its 150th anniversary, will have four boats in the Regatta and will be the third crew on the water on Tuesday morning in The Wyfold Challenge Cup (Club Men’s Coxless Four).
One aspect to watch out for during the races is the times to Barrier, which is a way to assess the form of crews across the events. Crews push themselves to top speed in the initial phase and then try to pace themselves to conserve energy if they establish clear water, preparing for the next round.
Among the early races to keep an eye on is Race 4 at 9:15 am, featuring one of the American entries in The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eight). Deerfield Academy from Massachusetts will compete against Latymer Upper School from West London. At 9:45 am, Brisbane Boys’ College, one of the favorites from Australia, celebrates the 30th anniversary of their 1993 win as they face Monmouth School.
Another highly anticipated race will take place in the afternoon session with Race 47, where the heavily favored Marin Rowing Association from the USA, a new entrant in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup after the rule change allowing clubs to participate alongside schools, will compete against Dulwich College from south London.
The Henley Royal Regatta showcases not only the talent but also the strong connections that bind the entire rowing community. Lea Rowing Club, located in East London, serves as a prime example this year. Gill Parker, Lea’s senior performance coach, proudly states that their club is the only one at this year’s regatta to have qualified crews for club men, club women, junior men, and junior women’s events. Founded in 1980 and having won at Henley in the 1980s, Lea has experienced a resurgence in recent years, attributing it to increased interest following the London 2012 Olympics. The club, known for its inclusivity and diversity, has seen a significant rise in the number of female rowers, with women now in the majority. Their outreach efforts have attracted around 30 women from the Hasidic Jewish community in Stamford Hill.
Lea Rowing Club’s top men’s boat will be the first to race at the Regatta in Race 8 at 9:40 am in The Wyfold Challenge Cup (Club Men’s Coxless Four).
Family connections are also prevalent in the history of Henley. Isabella and Olivia Cassidy, two sisters racing for Thames Rowing Club, successfully navigated the Qualifying Races on Friday to secure their places in the main draw. Their father, Adrian Cassidy, a former Great Britain rower and winner of The Grand Challenge Cup, along with their mother Siobhan, an under-23 Great Britain rower and winning Stroke for Cambridge University in the 1995 Boat Race, contribute to the Cassidy sisters’ remarkable rowing and Regatta pedigree.
Olivia, 23, will compete in The Wargrave Challenge Cup (Club Women’s Eight) on Wednesday, while Isabella, 25, will participate in The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup (Women’s Pair) on Friday. Both sisters have reached the weekend in the past two years and made their way through the challenging Qualifiers this time. Isabella expressed her excitement about racing in the pair for the first time, having had just over two weeks of training in the boat before the Qualifiers. She eagerly anticipated the Regatta and took pride in watching Olivia’s time trial, confident in her sister’s qualifications.
With the Henley Royal Regatta underway, the stage is set for exhilarating races, where rowing enthusiasts and spectators alike can witness the dedication, skill, and camaraderie that make this historic event truly remarkable.

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