It’s that time of year again: the booms are up, the marquees and portaloos are in place and Henley Women’s Regatta leads our headlong rush into a month of fun in the fields (and on the river) in Berkshire.

It’s a record year for Henley Women’s this weekend, with 426 crews and 1808 competitors in action from all corners of the world.

Who will win what? Here’s a quick guide:

Elite Eights: An outstanding field features an Oxford crew (with seven of the their victorious blue boat), NCAA finalists Stanford University from California, two crews from Brown University on the East Coast of the US - whose squad topped the NCAA rankings – another American eight from Cornell and lots of aspiring GB squad members in Leander and Sport Imperial crews.

Senior Eights: Newcastle University were the best of this bunch at the BUCS Regatta in May but Oxford Brookes did well at Metropolitan Regatta and the University of London – fresh from their boot camp in Wales - won at Reading recently. An Oxford boat based on their Boat Race reserves Osiris is also in the mix.

Intermediate Club Eights: Lea and City of Cambridge were the best performing club eights at Met.

Intermediate Academic Eights: King’s College London and Durham University are ones to watch. Few of the intermediate crews from the BUCS Regatta are racing here. 

Junior Eights: Headington are defending champions but the American challenge includes Kent School, who looked impressive in winning at Reading last Sunday.

Senior Coxed Fours: Brown have two crews entered; it is always worth watching Thames RC and University College London won at Reading. 

Intermediate Academic Coxed Fours: Exeter University won the IM2 event at Met on Saturday, over 30 seconds clear of their nearest student opposition. Might Newcastle provide stiffer opposition?

Intermediate Club Coxed Fours: Royal Chester and Vesta impressed at Met and may do again from a field of 32, only half of whom even made it through qualifiers on Friday morning. 

Junior Coxed Fours: Henley and Shiplake Vikings fly the British flag against North American opposition including Branksome Hall of Canada.

Junior 16 Coxed Fours: Less than two seconds separated Lady Eleanor Holles and Emmanuel School at National Schools so let’s see how they have progressed since. 

Elite Coxless Fours: A four-crew event pits a GB Under-23 composite from Cambridge, Newcastle and Bath Unis against a Dutch composite, plus Brown University and Leander.



Elite Quads: Olympic medallist Debbie Flood refuses to retire, dragging former world lightweight medallist Jane Hall along with her in the Leander quad against American opposition.

Elite Lightweight Quads: As is often the case, this event is a two-horse race between Durham University and what looks like a U23 composite of Gloucester, Edinburgh and Reading universities.

Senior Quads: Gloucester Hartpury's National Schools winners again step up to senior, facing some leading GB juniors in a Marlow/Notts composite plus several other strong crews including Molesey/Twickenham and Dutch crew Nereus. 

Junior Quads: With the leading Nat Schools crews moving up, Surbiton High School look the pick of the Brits. Loreto Normanhurst of Australia are the unknown foreigners.

Junior 16 Quads: Henley, Headington and Nottingham took the podium at Nat Schools and are all entered here.

Elite Pairs: The Tees/Newcastle crew of Bethany Bryan and Nicole Lamb impressed at Met, beating the Nottingham/Queens Belfast composite who are also in action here.

Elite Lightweight Pairs: Multiple HWR winners Lorna Cardwell and Rebekah Edgar of Mortlake A&A are back again. 

Elite Doubles: Debbie Flood and lightweight club-mate Fran Rawlins face a Reading/Imperial crew of Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Georgia Francis and an Australian/Belgian composite.

Elite Lightweight Doubles: The GB squad composite of Ruth Walczak and Emily Craig - from Molesey and UL respectively - look the pick against some top light doubles.

Senior Doubles: Molesey duo Helen Roberts and Gabby Rodriguez are worth watching here, along with the Wallingford/Cambridge composite and the Dutch from Nereus.

Junior Doubles: Marlow were Nat Schools champions but keep an eye on Tideway Scullers School, featuring former GB junior Saskia Budgett.

Elite Singles: Israeli Chen Oshri was a B-finalist in the lightweight singles at last year's World Championships.

Elite Lightweight Singles: Former U23 world champion Briana Stubbs and Agecroft's Ellie Lewis look like finalists.

Senior Singles: Club-mates at Agecroft, Olivia Salt and Holly McMullen did well at Met and will be in the mix here.

Senior Lightweight Singles: Louise Hart of Wallingford aims to defend her title. Nottingham’s Yasmin Marks could be a fellow finalist. 

Junior Single Sculls: Lucy Glover of Warrington and Robyn Armstrong from Bedford Girls were B-finalists at GB junior trials in April, while Georgia Mulraine of Sir William Borlase’s was a GB junior last year.

Trunk & Arm Single Sculls: Claire Connon of Cantabridgian beat Sudbury's Sophie Brown by fourth lengths in the semi-final last year. This time, they are the only entrants in a field down from five last June.



Unable to find £10k of sponsorship (and initially reluctant to look at crowd-funding options), HWR organisers have been forced to scrap their live stream this year, although they will be aiming to capture the atmosphere on a Periscope TV feed, which they will link to from Twitter. 

If HWR weren’t sufficient proof that #ThisGirlCan, the fifth and final stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour bike race starts in Marlow on Sunday morning, which could mean travel hell for some and a double viewing opportunity for others.


Bumper Henley entry announced

They battled through most of the last Olympiad, with Germany always getting the upper hand. Over the last two years the British have been on top. The two enemies face each other for the first time at Henley since 2011 as the headline to a banner year for the Royal, with 526 crews entered.

The University of Washington Huskies are on their way to compete in the Ladies Plate after securing their fifth successive US national title, and they are one of 59 crews from the US across the regatta.

The singles events both see Olympic champions aiming to win a fifth Henley title, New Zealander Mahe Drysdale and Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic the two in question.

There are some huge entries elsewhere, with 50 entries in the Prince Albert (student coxed fours) to be reduced to 16 in qualifiers, the details of which are announced on Sunday.

With Sir Steve Redgrave at the helm for the first time, the Royal has joined the 21st Century with its live YouTube channel and a Twitter campaign asking for video and photos of competitors who are #ReadyforHenley.

Here’s Newcastle University’s video: 


Great Britain up for the Cup

Fresh from their myriad successes at the European Championships, the GB Rowing Team are in action again this weekend at the second World Cup of the season in Varese, Italy. It is familiar territory for the Brits, who hold at least one training camp a year there.

There are few changes from the Euros, where GB won 10 medals. Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell is considered fit again and returns in the single. Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley swap seats in their double in a bid to improve on their bronze from Poland.

Men’s pair James Foad and Matt Langridge will miss out, though, as Foad has a “slight niggle”, which is a shame as the Kiwi Pairs of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond have opted to stay at home and let some other people have a go for once.



As ever, Dan “Fatsculler” Spring has written a detailed preview blog that covers everything in far more detail. 


Veterans master Nottingham course

The British Rowing Masters Championships has been growing in significance over the last few years but this year’s 795 boats and 1,400 competitors (aged from 27 to 82) was a landmark occasion, held over two days for the first time.

A special hat tip goes to Monmouth RC's Mark Stewart-Woods, one of only two competitors to do the maximum six events, winning two golds and four silvers, as well as being involved in the two closest finals, just missing out in MB singles and MC 4x.



And finally: Rowing bores

Fancy a go at racing the Severn Bore? Then register your interest now for the second Red Bull Outrow on 2 August 2015 in Gloucestershire. Why aren’t there more rowing events like this?



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