420 boats ready to race at Henley Royal Regatta 2023
Qualifiers last Friday reduced the 732 entries (including a domestic record of 585) by 312, ready for six fabulous days of racing from 27 June to 2 July
The 732 entries received is the second highest total in Henley’s 184-year history, and just seven fewer than the record set last year when racing moved to six days for the first time. The Wyfold is up by 15 entries on 2022 and the Prince of Wales up 12, while the Thames is down 13 and the Double Sculls down 14.
Numerically, the toughest of the 26 events to get into this year have been the Temple, with 48 crews eliminated in qualifiers, and the two junior quad events – 46 were shed from the Fawley and 30 from the Diamond Jubilee. The Wyfold was reduced by 28 crews, and the number of scullers in the Diamonds by 26.
With 1,400 women in 239 crews, the number of female rowers entering the 2023 Henley Royal Regatta is twice that of 2019. The three new women’s events created in 2021 are proving extremely popular with 103 entries across the three non-International eight events. “The doubling of the number of female rowers is testament to the successful introduction of the 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 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.”
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 and again at World Cup II in Varese in June.
A rule change in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup means that open clubs, as well as schools, have been allowed to enter for the first time. This long-called for change has only seen one British club crew – Llandaff RC – through to the regatta, but there are also three clubs from the US: Seattle USA’s Green Lake – whose schoolboy-aged eight performed admirably in the Thames (Club Men’s Eight) last year; Greenwich Crew; and Marin Rowing Association. Overall entries in the event have remained on a par with last year at 43.
“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.”
Overall, 17 countries are represented by 151 international entries, including 61 from the USA and a first-ever representation for Zimbabwe.
Great British barometer
With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games just over a year away, the GB Rowing Team senior crews competing here will face strong strong international opposition.
The GB quad has the easier draw on paper in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup, with world champions, Poland, having to get past the Canadian quad.
In the Remenham Challenge Cup, the Great Britain boat (Marlow RC and Leander Club) are on the same side of the draw as Canada’s Maple Bay Rowing Club. Hollandia Roeiclub, Netherlands, boasting a wealth of Under-23 talent are the standout in the top half, although Princeton, third in USA’s national college championships, will not bow out without a fight.
Britain’s top pair and childhood friends, Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George, who won gold in Varese, start favourites in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup. It would be a first Henley victory for Wynne-Griffith, but there is enough international competition to make it far from certain.
Many eyes will be on the Town Challenge Cup, where the GB four of Helen Glover, Heidi Long, Sam Redgrave and Rebecca Shorten (Leander Club and Imperial College London), are hot favourites. They just took silver in Varese and have been drawn in the other half from their most serious challengers, a Leander Club boat full of U23 talent.
“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 [racing in Britain] before Paris.”
Photo: Henley Royal Regatta