The semi-finals at Henley Royal Regatta on Saturday showcased a display of international rowing excellence. From America’s talented schoolgirl sweepers to Poland’s dominant scullers and Britain’s world-beating crews, the stage was set for thrilling races on the 2,112-meter course at Henley-on-Thames.
GB Women’s Quad Dominates
Great Britain’s women’s quad, a team with high hopes for Paris 2024, delivered a commanding performance, defeating D.S.R Laga & A.S.R Nereus, the Dutch champions. Joining them in the final is the Canadian quad, who emerged victorious against the Netherlands under-23 development boat from Hollandia Roeiclub.
Lauren Henry, a 21-year-old rower from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, made her mark at Henley two years ago when she surprised everyone by defeating Canada’s Andrea Proske, the Olympic gold medalist. Despite losing in the final of that competition, Henry has been making remarkable progress in the national squad (comprising Lauren Henry, Hannah Scott, Lola Anderson, and Georgie Brayshaw) and aims for a medal at the Paris Olympics next year.
The GB quad recently set a new British record of 6:09.3 at the Varese World Cup, finishing just 0.5 seconds behind the Olympic and world champions, China.
Friendly Rivalry in the Quad
Henry, reminiscing about her previous Henley Regatta experience, recalled her close race against Lola Anderson, who is now her crewmate in the quad. She humorously pointed out that this time, as the bow seat, she crossed the finish line ahead of Anderson. Henry expressed her desire to win this year, especially after the challenging year that was 2021. She also emphasized the camaraderie among her crewmates, referring to them as her “big sisters” who have supported and guided her since joining the team in April.
Canadian Quad’s Fresh Crew
Canada’s new quad, led by stroke Carling Zeeman, demonstrated their potential by comfortably defeating their opponents. Zeeman, who is doubling up due to a late withdrawal, is experiencing Henley Regatta for the first time and is eager to make her mark in the Stonor (Women’s Double Sculls) event as well.
Zeeman praised the competitive atmosphere of the regatta and expressed her love for rowing’s strategic and mental aspects. Coming from a background in strategic sports like speed skating, Zeeman finds the gladiatorial nature of the Henley course particularly appealing.
All-International Junior Women’s Eight Final
The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy (Junior Women’s Eight) featured an exceptionally competitive field, with an all-international final for the second consecutive year. Greenwich Crew from Connecticut, USA, proved too strong for Headington School, the reigning 2021 champions from Britain. Despite Headington School’s impressive record this year, including wins at the Women’s Head, National Schools’ Regatta, and Henley Women’s Regatta, they were unable to overcome the determined Deerfield Academy from Massachusetts, who dominated the final.
Exciting Finals Await
Other notable performances included Spain’s double sculls team comfortably defeating Great Britain in the Men’s Double Sculls Challenge Cup. They will face Britain’s Aidan Thompson and John Collins in the final. Poland’s world-beating men’s quad, reigning world and European champions, emerged victorious against Canada in The Queen Mother Challenge Cup, setting up an enticing final against Great Britain.
In the junior events, St. Paul’s held off a resilient Shiplake crew to secure their place in the final of The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Junior Men’s Eight), while St. Edward’s overcame Radley College to reach the final as well.
Leander Rowing Club showcased its strength with multiple victories throughout the day, including the GB women’s four in The Town Challenge Cup, which features Helen Glover, a double Olympic gold medalist.
The regatta has been a remarkable experience for both athletes and spectators, with intense competition and unwavering support from the rowing community. The stage is now set for the eagerly anticipated finals, where rowers from around the world will vie for victory on the iconic Henley course.
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