Henley Women’s Regatta 2014

CUWBC sent three and a half crews to the biggest ever Henley Women’s Regatta last weekend, with over 1,600 athletes from a record number of clubs taking part, it was bound to be a tough but valuable experience.

Friday saw the Intermediate Academic Coxed Four of Kate Bruce-Lockhart, Evelyn Boettcher, Laura-Nadine Schuhmacher and Barbora Janulikova coxed by Tim Davies begin the CUWBC campaign with a time trial that saw them through easily to the next round of racing. That afternoon they faced King’s College London, and won convincingly by three lengths, showing confidence and maturity in their rowing despite having only had a few sessions together as part of the 2014 Development Squad.

Friday afternoon also kickstarted the Elite Pair and Senior Coxed Four races. The pair of Hannah Roberts and Anouska Bartlett had a solid start to their regatta with a race to the line against Reading Rowing Club. After Reading took a length at the start, the composed and level headed rhythm of the CUW pair took control, as they eased their way back to their opponents with a race right to the line. The Cambridge girls used their fitness and technique to make a final push, eventually winning by just a third of a length.

The Senior Coxed Four raced later as the temperatures began to cool off a little, and enjoyed some evening racing. Hannah Evans, Holly Game, Izzy Vyvyan, Jilly Tovey and Will McDermott took on a composite crew of Lea RC and Vesta RC, coxed by CUWBC alumna, Brielle Stark. Both crews had quick starts, and were level past the island but Cambridge started to slowly but surely ease out in front down the course ending up with a win of two and a half lengths.

The Senior Coxed four racing Lea RC in their first race.
The Senior Coxed four racing Lea RC in their first race.

After a successful day of racing for the CUWBC, the crews were ready and raring to go again for another full day’s racing on Saturday. With all four races taking place within an hour, it may have been a more tiring experience for the coaches following on their bikes on the tow path! Saturday was also the first race for Melissa Wilson and Claire Watkins in a composite crew with fellow GB U23 triallists in the Elite Coxless Fours.

The afternoon kicked off with the Elite Pair who were racing the French National U23 pair. Facing the top French boat, the girls threw everything into it, knowing it was going to be an extremely difficult race. They had a strong start, but couldn’t overcome the experience of the French pair which soon took precedence, establishing an early lead which continued to the finish. The Elite Pair is one of the most competitive races in Henley Women’s Regatta with many top international crews competing, so having been together just a couple of weeks and with Anouska swapping to strokeside, they did a fantastic job to progress well together in that short period.

The Elite Four were up next, kickstarting their racing against a composite crew from Ireland. Both crews attacked the start and raced competitively up to the finish, where after a few moments of deliberation the umpire disqualified the Irish crew after they steered into the Cambridge composite’s water and obstructed their bows, seeing the CUW girls through into the final day of racing.

The Senior Coxed Four drew Riverside, an unknown American crew, in the quarter finals. The Cambridge crew had a very quick start and took almost a length out of Riverside, but a flirtation with the booms lost them their rhythm, allowing the opponents to creep up and back into the race. The Cambridge girls fought strongly to reclaim water, yet it was too little too late. The final result was a win to Riverside by one and a quarter lengths

Finally the Academic Four took to the stage against a much more experienced Liverpool University Crew. The girls raced extremely well, and retained their composure throughout the race, yet the Liverpool crew used their experience and practice to their advantage, winning by two and three quarter lengths. The development four have gained invaluable racing experience from this HWR and are looking to be promising CUWBC athletes. The Development Squad have now begun full training, and will continue to do so for the next four weeks. With approximately 30 girls taking part, it looks to be an exciting summer for the development of CUWBC, with some serious contenders beginning to appear for those sought after seats in all three Boat Race crews next year.

Sunday was the Elite Four’s semi final against a senior GB development composite. The Cambridge composite had a flying start and kept pace with the senior crew for much of the race, holding contact with gutsy moves that saw them go a long way. The final result was a win for the senior GB crew with a distance of one and a half lengths in a very competitive time. Melissa and Claire will now go to Caversham to take part in the final selection process for the GB U23 team and we wish them all the best for their seat races and final trials.

All crews would like to thank Rob Baker, Nick Acock and Paddy Ryan for their time and effort put in into coaching these crews for Henley Women’s. There is of course always room for improvement, yet it proved a priceless experience for those looking to continue next year, and also a great way to finish off the season for those leaving CUWBC. We are now looking forward to Henley Royal Regatta, putting an eight together for the Remenham Challenge Cup qualifiers on Friday 27th June.