It’s always tough to work out who’s who at Henley Royal Regatta, whether it’s because you struggle to decipher the composite crews or are just addled by Pimms. After entries were announced on Thursday, here’s The Rowlup’s quick guide to who might win what.

Elite Events

Grand Challenge Cup (M8+): In a straight final, European bronze medallists Great Britain (Leander and University of London) face the French eight who finished six seconds behind them in Belgrade.

Stewards' Challenge Cup (M4-): The new-look GB four (Molesey and Leander), already European champions, face fellow Euro finalists Germany plus national crews from France and China.

Queen Mother Challenge Cup (M4x): Great Britain (Leander and Agecroft) are world and European silver medallists. They take on crews from Australia, France and the Netherlands, the latter two of which reached the B-final at the Euros.

Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Challenge Cup (M2-): Great Britain's European Champs pair of Alan Sinclair and Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell face Greek duo Christomanos and Lampridis, plus South Africa's top pair Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain.

Double Sculls Challenge Cup (M2x): Sizwe Ndlovu and John Smith of South Africa's Olympic champion lightweight four feature here, alongside GB heavy double John Collins and Johnny Walton of Leander. After a quick Google, we think that only one of the Keble College double features in this comparison.

Diamond Challenge Sculls (M1x): Olympic champ Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand goes for his fourth Henley title while 2012 bronze-medal Brit Alan Campbell eyes his third. Could 2013 Worlds finalist Roel Braas of the Netherlands stand in their way?

Remenham Challenge Cup (W8+): Great Britain's European silver medallists (Leander Club and Imperial College) face Australia and the Netherlands, who were just three seconds off them in Belgrade.

Princess Grace Challenge Cup (W4x): The GB combination rowing as Leander and Gloucester looks the pick of a crop that is largely domestic. There should also be a draft GB lightweight quad hiding in there somewhere, perhaps as Molesey and Putney Town.

Princess Royal Challenge Cup (W1x): Olympic and European champion Czech Mirka Knapkova aims for her fourth Henley win in five years in a field that includes world junior champion Jess Leyden of Hollingworth Lake RC.


Intermediate Events

Ladies' Challenge Plate (M8+): Brown University and the University of California finished 2-3 at the US college championships - the IRAs. They will eye composites from Leander/Molesey and Brookes/Taurus with caution. 

Visitors' Challenge Cup (M4-): Half of Harvard University's varsity eight feature in a field packed with some intriguing composites.

Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (M4x): A Leander quad, with an average age of 20, bids to secure the home club an unprecedented fifth successive win.


Club Events

Thames Challenge Cup (M8+): Thames RC are desperate to win a men's eights event at Henley for the first time since 1948. Upper Thames have been their closest rivals, with Molesey not that far behind. Mercantile of Australia are the top foreign contender.

Wyfold Challenge Cup (M4-): Rob Roy aim to go one better than their crab-hit defeat in last year's final, with Thames and Upper Thames in the mix here too.

Britannia Challenge Cup (M4+): Vesta were top club crew on Saturday at Met Regatta and won at Reading; Nottingham could challenge, as could two German crews plus Sydney RC.


Student Events - Men

Temple Challenge Cup (M8+): Oxford Brookes were the last British university to win the Temple, back in 2006, and will be favourites to do so again, if they can get past Brown's freshmen and Dutch students Nereus.

Prince Albert Challenge Cup (M4+): Imperial College look strong here, with Harvard's freshmen among their rivals.


Junior Events

Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (JM8+): Could Abingdon win the PE for the fourth successive time? They weren't as dominant at Nat Schools this year. Eton and Hampton lurk while Shawnigan Lake of Canada return to the event they won in 2008.

Fawley Challenge Cup (JM4x): The season-long battle between National Schools Regatta winners Westminster School and Sir William Borlase's Grammar School continues, with a German quad from Frankfurt among the new faces. 

Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup (JW4x):  Canadian schools Ridley College and Shawnigan Lake will join a battle that will pit Gloucester RC, Nat Schools winners Marlow and Headington.


Meanwhile in Marlow

There will be another chance to run the rule over the form of the men’s crews for Henley Royal at “Dorney III”, Marlow Regatta. The event has been cut to a single day this year as Dorney is unavailable on Sunday but the entry is as strong as ever and the new time trial format is likely to see some close racing later in the day.


Henley hots up

The event for Elite Eights at Henley Women’s Regatta is packed with talent this year, including GB and French Under-23 crews, plus US student crews from Yale and Drexel, and Oxford University, who won the Women’s Boat Race on this reach back in March. 

Henley Women’s isn’t just about the elite, though. Have a look at this BBC film featuring the junior double from Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, a state school that has only recently embraced the sport.

Don’t forget live video streaming of the whole darned thing on the regatta website.


Also in Henley …

Of course the recession has hit high streets around the country and Henley is no exception. In the words of Bruce Springsteen, “Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores / Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more”. In an effort to reverse the trend, South Oxfordshire District Council will be dressing vacant storefronts during Regatta week, with one project featuring an interactive chalkboard that passers-by can draw or write on … of course The Rowlup wouldn’t want to encourage misbehaviour...


The World Cup that Brits can win 

If the Henley reach isn’t picturesque enough for you, try Aiguebelette, France, site of the second World Rowing Cup regatta of the season. The Alpine lake will host the World Champs in 2015, 18 years after it saw Katherine Grainger’s first world medal. 

Blogger Daniel “Fatsculler” Spring has produced not one but two encyclopaedic guides to what to watch, among the women and lightweights, and in the heavy men’s field as New Zealand, Australia and the United States join the party. Also, here’s an in-depth run-down of what USRowing are up to.

If you’re in the UK, there is live coverage of Sunday’s finals day on the BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport website from 0930 BST. Highlights on BBC Two at 1600. The World Rowing website is also video streaming all the A-finals.

The action got under way on Thursday, with heats in the Para-rowing events. Former Paralympic handcyclist Rachel Morris finished second in the time trial on her international rowing debut.


Mahe back on the mountain

Mahe Drysdale suffered bike accidents in the run-up to the Olympics (where he still won) and the 2013 Worlds (where he struggled) but that hasn’t put him off taking part in a Tour de France recce during his preparations for the World Cup.

The Olympic champ - who took time off following London 2012 and is now married with a child on the way – is on his second trip to France this season. Training during his first visit included a day of cycling up the mighty Mont Ventoux twice.

After a tough winter – including three domestic defeats in the single to Hamish Bond of the Kiwi pair – Drysdale says of this weekend: “The dream is to be up battling it out for gold but reality says that is unlikely at this regatta.”


Still crazy after all these years

They may look a little different 31 years on but the effect is still the same!

Look out for more from The Rowlup next Friday. Got a suggestion or comment? Just want to let us know what you think? Use the comment section below, tweet @martingough22 or use the hashtag #TheRowlup.

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