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Henley Women's Regatta Race Report

Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) is the biggest race of the season for our Senior Performance Women and an incredibly challenging one. This year the Club sent an eight, entered in the Academic/Aspirational 8+ category, and a four, entered in the Development 4+ category. Both of these categories face immense competition and so qualification was always going to be difficult.

For the Development 4+ category there were 54 crews vying for just 16 places that qualified through to the side by side racing. Our 4+ went off to do their time trial in the peak of the heat, racing just after 1pm. Making it down the course in that heat was an achievement in itself! However, the 4+ put in a strong performance finishing 34th/54 in what was a hugely competitive field. Based off of the timings released they were very much in the upper half of the competition as well finishing 20secs off of the first crew to miss out on qualification, but a minute faster than the slowest crew, so a huge well done to them. Also, a big well done to the Leeds RC Dev 4+ that made it through and then had a very tight side by side race!

The Academic 8+ category was also very competitive. There were 30 crews competing for 16 places. The field looked tough and the women knew they would have to perform to qualify for the side by side racing later on in the day. The 8+ were more fortunate with their time trial starting at 9am, when the heat was slightly more bearable. The crew qualified for the side by side racing despite the fact that cox Taryn’s cox box had a funny moment during the race. We now know that the Club came 12th in the time trial, not far off of many other Club’s that have been ahead of us most of the year, so this was a strong performance. Whilst Head Coach Dan, Taryn and myself were getting the cox box fixed the news was announced that we had qualified for the next round. This is now the second year in a row the Club has had an 8+ qualify at HWR. Last year was the first time the Club had an 8+ qualify in 13 years, so huge credit to the squad and thanks to Head Coach Dan Grant for the clear development and progress the Club is making!

The Club was then drawn against a Dutch crew, Laga. The Dutch crew were bigger and stronger than ours and so over the course of the race managed to take a lead stroke by stroke. However, our women put in a strong effort in tricky conditions, as there was now a nasty headwind as well as the heat, and against difficult opposition. It goes without saying, but, if these crews are coming from abroad they usually have some quality to back that up. This was certainly the case! However, the Dutch crew were also incredibly good sports and congratulated our women on a strong race and their coaches consistently tried to drag me out on the beers with them! So, whilst being knocked out was obviously upsetting, the 8+ had achieved its main aim of qualifying for side by side racing, as well as putting in a strong performance in that race. Unfortunately with racing, sometimes your opposition is just better.

However, the performance of both the 4+ and the 8+ rounded off a very strong season for the Senior Performance Women and puts the Club in a strong place ahead of next year. A thank you, goodbye and good luck to Taryn Birkett who is leaving us, and a temporary goodbye and goodluck to Eilidh Dickerson and Julieta Gonzalez who are on placement years, we look forward to seeing you soon!

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