The Rowlup – a Football Free Zone

But back to rowing

It’s the 175th running of Henley Royal Regatta next week, and some of the blazers have been around the whole time. Here’s some British Pathe footage from 50 years ago, including a row-past by the Harvard University crew who won the Grand in 1914, five weeks before the First World War broke out.

And here’s some more from 90 years ago – the first year that the straight course was used, having required part of Temple Island and of the Berkshire bank to be removed.

This year marks the 86th anniversary of the event that far fewer crews want to take part in: Henley Qualifiers on Friday afternoon. The toughest events to get into this year are the Temple (academic eights) and the Fawley (junior quads) Challenge Cups, with 14 places on offer in each, and 55 crews going for each.

Want to know who might win what? The Rowing Service is running its annual Mystic Henley competition and you can view other entrants’ picks for victory, serving as a good form guide.


Sculling on the Somme

Martin Cross took to the River Somme last month to find out more about the battles that took place there during the war 100 years ago and also to trace the deaths of two fellow Olympic rowing champions, John Somers-Smith and Frederick Septimus Kelly, the latter three-times a Diamonds winner at Henley and also a composer.

An account of the trip is in this month’s Rowing & Regatta magazine but Martin has also published a moving video of the trip, sound-tracked by the haunting Elegy for Strings, composed in 1915 by Kelly to mark the death of his friend, poet Rupert Brooke.  Well worth watching.


Henley heart-stopper

Twenty-seven trophies were contested by 1,600 competitors at Henley Women’s Regatta last weekend but the most exciting race of the lot had to be the final of Academic Eights, where University College London had to wait an agonising half an hour before a verdict could be reached from finish-line video. The lengthy pause allowed coach Jamie Smith to recover his breath after running with his bike through enclosures.

UCL were handed victory over Reading University by a foot, and celebrated accordingly.


Headington School brought the Peabody Cup for Junior Eights back to home shores for the first time since 2010 (when it was won by a British composite), seeing off US crew St Paul's in a tense semi, then St George's College in the final. In an in-depth interview on the Junior Rowing blog this week, coach Ryan Demaine reveals that the eight only trained together a couple of times before the event. They’re back in the quad for the Royal, looking to go one step further than last year’s status as beaten finalists. 

News filtered out later in the week that the Elite Fours final had not, in fact taken place. Two GB development boats were due to take part and one rowed over the course. No further information was forthcoming but a statement from regatta chairman Miriam Luke said: "The finalists of the Elite 4- were both disqualified, one for a serious safety incident, the second due to a rule infringement. Therefore the final did not take place and no winner will be recorded for this event in 2014."

No further information was available but there can’t have been too much bad blood as the two crews combined later in the afternoon to beat Yale University in the final of Elite Eights.


Zoe takes the plunge, Moe bakes a cake 

Coxes might expect to take an enforced bath in the river if their crew wins but Zoe de Toledo, the former Oxford cox now at the helm of the Great Britain women’s eight, will be voluntarily jumping into the Thames in the small hours of Sunday, taking part in the annual Henley Swim down the regatta course to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

Zoe’s fundraising page is here if you fancy chipping in. It includes the proceeds from a cake sale at Caversham, which even saw Moe Sbihi dive for his mixing bowl.


Great Britain top the table

Big Moe and his four were at the forefront of the action as Great Britain again topped the medal table at the second World Rowing Cup regatta of the year on the beautiful Lac d’Aiguebelette in the Alpine foothills.

GB won 13 medals in all - six gold, four silver, three bronze – including a 1-2 in the women’s lightweight doubles by GB 1 (Kat Copeland and Imogen Walsh) and GB2 (Ellie Piggott and Charlie Taylor).

Reunited, the Olympic champion women's pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning dominated the field in almost as emphatic a fashion as their male counterparts from New Zealand did. Arguably GB's performance of the day, though, came from the men's quad who rowed through the Olympic champs from Germany in the second kilometre to win by almost a length.

There’s a new Facebook community called Women on Water. Driven by Paul Thompson, GB’s chief coach for women and lightweights, it celebrates the success of women in rowing, from club-level rowers to GB's international stars and promises video and blogs from those at the top.


Marlow woes

Marlow Regatta launched a new format, then came under fire last weekend as a system of time trials and seeded finals received plaudits for close racing but plenty of flak for producing a boring morning and for a series of teething troubles, which started with malfunctioning technology and poor communication, and included an eights time trial set off too close behind the pairs, forcing evasive action by an Agecroft pair.

The regatta normally runs over two days, with more junior and masters events on the Sunday, but that second day could not take place this year because Dorney Lake owners Eton College were running a private regatta for crews from major public schools.


It’s that pair again

It turns out that the trip out on the Thames by knights of the realm Redgrave and Pinsent which featured in The Rowlup a fortnight ago is not a one-off.

Sir Steve made his “shoot me” comment in the pre-camera phone era. Now he’s being shot from all angles, this time by a tweeter from Reading Uni BC.

There’s no sign of the 1992 and ’96 Olympic champion pair in the entry list for Henley Masters Regatta, which must come as a relief to all the other pairs entered. Something for Sunday at the 175th running of Henley Royal perchance?

What do you think?

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