Henley Royal Regatta – Round Up

Light Blues in force at HRR 2019

The Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club enjoyed a strong presence on the water at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta, run from 3-7 July 2019.

Among current squad members racing for Cambridge, we had 3 crews in 2 events with a total of 8 athletes.

They were:

The Hambledon Pairs Challenge Cup:

Gemma King (St. John’s)

Catherine King (Caius)


Tricia Smith (Christ’s)

Pippa Whittaker (Christ’s)


The Town Challenge Cup:

Lily Lindsay (Pembroke)

Adriana Perez-Rotondo (Newnham)

Sophie Deans (Murray Edwards)

Kate Horvat (Jesus)


Gemma and Catherine King were both in this year’s Lightweight Women’s Boat Race crew, which competed along the same stretch of water in the opposite direction. Despite competing in the event last year as junior rowers, they fell to the Chinese National Team crew on the Friday, the first day of the event. The Chinese pair eventually lost to the New Zealand National Team crew in Sunday’s final.


Catherine comments, “Racing at Henley Royal Regatta was an unforgettable experience. It is such a unique event and it was a privilege to race against some of the best crews in the world and watch some incredible racing.”




Tricia Smith and Pippa Whittaker, both from this year’s victorious Blue Boat crew, fared slightly better in the racing. They took down a crew from the United States on the first day before falling to the Chinese crew on Saturday.

About Saturday’s racing, Pippa remarked, “It was the first time I’d ever got to a Saturday of Henley, after eight attempts so it was pretty magical and memorable. It was a bit surreal being in the semi-finals alongside three national teams, racing for our university. Obviously the odds were against us, but it was incredible just to have so much support on the banks.”

She continued, “And the Friday was amazing! Leading along the Stewards enclosure has got to be one the best feelings ever. Compared to the Boat Race, the crowds are so much closer. We were in the middle of the day and on the Berks station so the booms are about a meter away from packed crowds of blazers. It was a really intense experience but felt amazing to be up on the Americans and just able to soak it all in.”

The four, made up of rowers from both the Blue Boat and Blondie, began racing on Friday as well. They drew the Dutch National Team crew competing under Hollandia Roeiclub, putting in a solid row but unable to keep up with the Dutch. Hollandia Roeiclub when on to win the event.

Sophie Deans comments, “Racing at HRR is an incredible experience. It is an iconic rowing event and it is so special to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about rowing, spectators and competitors alike. The atmosphere at the regatta is unreal. Rowing up to the start line with spectators lining the bank the whole way makes it feel like a very intimate event, as you can hear and see the crowd so clearly.”

About the race on Friday, Sophie said,

“We had no expectations coming into the regatta as the women’s events are so competitive.  I was excited to have the privilege of racing alongside some of the best in the world. The draw put us up against one of the two pre-qualified crews, Hollandia NED (the Dutch National Team), on our first day. We went out to race feeling relaxed and excited, knowing we had nothing to lose. We executed our race plan well and had a good race. Although progressing to Saturday would have been awesome, we had a great Henley experience overall, and felt excited and honoured to have raced against such an elite crew that went on to win the whole event. It is a privilege to race at Henley as it truly is a celebration of rowing for competitors and spectators alike.”

Also racing, Cambridge had Anouschka Fenley (Lucy Cavendish) racing for the Headington School alumnae 8+ in the Remenham Challenge Cup. They fell to the crew from the Tideway Sculler’s School/Imperial College London.

Alumna Oonagh Cousins (Caius) raced in the Remenham Challenge Cup as well under University of London/Molesey Boat Club. She will be racing at this weekend’s World Cup III in the GBR Women’s 8+ (2).

Alumna Melissa Wilson  (Lucy Cavendhish) raced in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup under Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club/Reading Rowing Club A. Their race on the Saturday was one of the most exciting of the regatta, as they lost to the Hollandia Roeiclub, Netherlands, by a verdict of 1 foot. Melissa will be racing in the GBR Women’s 4x this weekend in World Cup III.

Finally, alumna Christina Ostacchini (Caius) raced in the King’s Challenge Cup for the United Kingdom Armed Forces. This event was first run in 1919 following the end of World War I, and this year’s event celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the end of that war. Christina is a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force.