Better late than never, a recap of the club’s performance at Henley Royal Regatta! A full write-up of Henley Royal Qualifiers is also available on our website.
Turning up fresh at qualifiers on Friday 23rd July, hoping to represent Cantabs the same way the women did, with such a good performance at HWR the week before. Sending an 8+ to the Thames Challenge cup and a 4+ to the Britannia Challenge cup, qualifying chances were looking good for both crews. The 8+ had been plagued by injury during the run up and having to have a last minute substitution after Jimmy Adams was deemed too injured to row; Riccardo Conci, Guy Fiddian, Mark Lawrence, Hannes Burfiend, Ricardo Herreros-Simmons, Andrew Marsden, Sam Philpott and Jonah Harris took to the famous Henley course coxed by Sara Russo in the boat named after head coach Andy Johnson. The Thames Cup crew came off the water happy with their row in the windy conditions describing it as “chunky and sharp”, giving crucial condition information to the 4+. News of qualifiers came over the tannoy with typical Henley promptness, Cantabs had made the cut.
The 4+ took to the water not long after the news of the eights’ success. Fresh from various Mays triumphs (in some cases) the Cantabs 4+ had little time to prepare for qualifiers but came in with high hopes. Directed to the start by Katherine Grainger ,the crew of Gio Bergamo-Andreis, Charlie Cullen, Tom Chess, Andy Clucas and their cox Leanne Fiddian were ready to give it everything. Following Agecroft down the course there was a strong sense within the crew that things had finally come together. Coming off the water there was a nervous wait to hear about qualifiers; unfortunately, the 4+ was unsuccessful in their attempts to qualify, coming in as fastest non-qualifiers and challenging their time with Sir Steve Redgrave.
Getting over the disappointment of the 4+, the 8+ charged on with their training in Henley in preparation for their race against Avon RC, NZ on Wednesday. Illness once again struck the 8+ on Sunday and they were forced to make a last minute substitution on medical grounds. Mark was too ill to carry on, but luckily Erik Sullivan was still in Henley fresh from his Henley Swim and ready to jump in the boat to back up his Winter League 3 record breaking performance.
A late start on Wednesday meant enough time for a pre-paddle during lunch, unsure of what to expect at the start having not seen Avon out on the water at any point both crews lined up on the start. A sharp start at rate 45 saw the Cantabs crew take an early lead, striding out to 39 at the end of the island with a 2 seat lead, the Cantabs crew started to walk away. Passing the Barrier at 38, Sara told the crew that she was level with their bow and still moving; the crew managed to increase their lead to clear water over the course, defending well against pushes from Avon trying to break back. Crossing the line with a 1 ¾ length lead, in a time of 6:31, the crew congratulated Avon on a good race and paddled back to the boat tent.
A quick crew chat, a bite to eat and everyone back to the crew house in Shiplake to prepare for meeting Tideway Scullers School on Thursday. That race turned out to be a tough challenge, with TSS a much more established crew compared to the Cantabs 8+. After strong starts from both crews which made for some great racing, TSS took home the win by half a length. Despite the outcome of the race, the crew’s performance in spite of injuries and last-minute crew changes suggests there is a lot to come from the men’s squad next season.