There are three events in the Intermediate class :
- The Ladies Challenge Plate: for Men’s eights
- The Visitors Challenge Cup: for Men’s Coxless fours
- The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup; For Men’s Quads
The Ladies Challenge Plate
A small, but high quality field. The draw has pitted The University of California, Berkeley v Leander club and ASR Nereus v The East India Club & Martyrs Boat Club.
Cal Berkeley: This is Cal’s 2nd Varsity boat that came 3rd at the IRA Championships. As with a lot of US collegiate crews they are a multi-national bunch with an Aussie stern pair of Sam Horsley and Mark Brinker, Polish freshman and U23 international Marcin Pawlowski and Canadian Elliot Rogers. The rest of the crew are all Americans and the boat includes two U23 World silver medallists, Jordan Vanderstoep and Justin Murphy. At bow is another US U23 international, Kyle Flagg. The final member of the crew is Elliot Rogers, at 6 foot 9 inches he’s the tallest man on the whole Cal Berkeley roster. Cal have had a great season going unbeaten all the way to the IRA championships where they were beaten into 3rd by Harvard and Princeton. It’s a testament to the strength of the US collegiate programmes that even a 2nd 8 contains U23 world medallists and is going to be very competitive in this Intermediate event.
The first round meeting against Leander is a re-run of the 2014 final which Cal won by just 3 feet, indeed the 2016 Cal crew contains some of those who won in 2014. For Leander there are five of that 2014 crew looking for revenge. Leander have been selected and have had a good season so far. They raced at the Holland Bekker losing to ASR Nereus on the Saturday before over-turning that result on the Sunday. They have firmly set their sights on getting revenge for the defeat in 2014. At bow is the highly experienced international Chris Boddy. He’s getting fed-up with close finishes in this event having lost by 1 foot in 2012 and 3 feet in 2014. 2016 marks his last hurrah as he retires from rowing after the regatta to take up a teaching job at Sir William Perkins’ School in Chertsey.
Also in the boat are the Rossiter brothers, Matt and George. Both are U23 internationals, with younger brother George placing 5th in 2013 and 2014. His older brother Matt won bronze in the BM8 in 2009 and then silver in 2010 in the BM4- with messers Louloudis, Nash and Reilly-O’Donnell…I wonder what happened to those three A serious back injury ruled Rossiter the elder out for several years otherwise we might have been talking about him in terms of the Rio Olympics rather than Henley. Cam Buchan, Tim Clarke and Tom Ford & Will Warr are also GB U23 internationals, this boat is pretty much the best of British outside of the senior international squad.
ASR Nereus have five of the crew that won the Temple Challenge Cup last year in the astonishing time of 6:08….breaking the previous record by 9 seconds! As mentioned above they’ve already raced Leander twice this season with one win and won loss. They also raced the Dutch Olympic 8 and ran them very, very close. It would be a remarkable achievement for the majority of the crew to go from winning the Temple to winning the Ladies Plate the following year.
The final crew in the draw are the East India Club and Martyrs Boat Club. This crew is described as “a bunch of good guys getting together for some good racing” plus they are competing to raise money for Sarcoma UK. The crew is no “beer-boat” though and includes Cambridge Blue Clemens Auersperg, former U23 internationals Ollie Staite and Ed Couldwell, Goldie crew member Al Taylor. They are a talented bunch of guys but I think even they might admit that they might be a little outgunned by Nereus.
My picks…it’s going to be another showdown between Leander and Nereus with the Pink Palace finally getting the win, their first in this event since 2008.
The Visitors Challenge Cup
10 of the 16 crews in this event are from overseas with 5 American, 2 Dutch, a Swiss, French and Australian boats.
The favourites for this event are likely to be the Dutch, De Amstel & Proteus-Eretes. This boat includes the Muda twins, Tycho and Vincent. They’ve been stalwarts of the Dutch lightweight programme. They raced in the LM4- at the London Olympics and then moved into the LM2X with a best result of a gold medal at the Bled World Cup in 2015. In 2016 they finished 4th in Varese and 6th at the European Championships. Also in the crew is Dutch international Sjoerd De Groot. He raced as the number 2 Dutch M2-at the Varese and Lucerne world cups and was in the Dutch M8 that finished 6th at the European Championships.
Another selected crew are Thames Rowing Club. This crew has three of the athletes who won the Thames Cup last year (the first time the club had won the event since before WW2). So far this season they have two silver medals from the Holland Beker and took the wins at both Wallingford and the Metropolitan Regattas.
The third “Selected” crew in the draw is the Oxford Brookes & Proteus composite. Leading this crew is London Olympic bronze medallist, Alex Partridge. He’s joined by Henley winner Richard Hawkins. The Proteus representation is in the form of former U23 internationals Marten Van Blokland and Vincent Klaassens. This crew raced at the Holland Beker winning elite 4- on Sunday beating Thames by just under a second. The draw has these two crews potentially meeting again on Sunday of HRR.
The fourth and final selected crew are the University of California, Berkeley. This crew is half of the Cal Bears Varsity 8 that won the IRA Championships. It’s also a representation of the diverse nationalities in the US Collegiate rowing scene. This crew has two Dutchmen, Nikki van Sprang and Maarten Hurkmans, one Dane, Joachim Sutton and one American, Alex Wallis. Cal are the defending champions in this event and Van Sprang is the sole survivor from that 2015 crew.
Outside of the selected crew’s one to watch include Adelaide RC. They have a crew containing three different nationalities and four oarsmen who studied at US Universities. Croatian Matej Metkovic rowed for Northeastern University and was also part of the Croatian U23 M8 last year. Patrick Kottinen is an American and studied at Princeton and rowed in the US U23 M8 that won bronze in 2014. Ed Northrop is another Princeton Tiger alumni and one of two Australians in the boat, he raced for Australia in the U23 LM2- in 2013. The final member of the crew is Jack Kelly, a Harvard graduate and U23 representative for Australia in the LM1X.
Cambridge University have half of the 2016 Blue Boat crew with Luke Juckett, Lance Tredell, Henry Hoffstot and Ben Ruble. They finished runners-up to the Dutch Visitor’s four on the Saturday of the Holland Beker and the Brookes/Proteus composite on the Sunday. Tredell is the new Cambridge President and has set his sights on representing GB at the 2020 Olympics.
Facing Cal in round one are Yale University, the only all-American clash in the first round. This is the crew from the Yale Lightweight programme, this is the same crew that finished 7th in the LM4- at the IRA championships
George Washington University have two boats through to the main draw, this is the first year that GW have raced at Henley and they have split their Varsity 8 which finished 18th at the IRA’s into two fours. Whatever the outcome of their first round races it’s great to see another US University make its debut at Henley.
My pick for the win..It’s going to be a fight between the Dutch squad of De Amstel & Proteus against the University of Cal. If conditions are poor the heavyweight students may have the edge over the predominantly lightweight Dutch crew.
The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup
Four selected crews in this event including both Leander crews. The Pink Palace have won this event for the last six years and aren’t going to relinquish their title without a fight. The Leander B crew, Dan Boddington, Chris Skokowski, Finn Stevenson and Chris Ray are part of the Leander development squad. They are all experienced sweep athletes but had not sculled before joining Leander. It’s a testament to the strength of Leander’s programme that they can get a crew of inexperienced scullers to the level of being Selected at Henley in one season. They raced at Marlow and finished a strong 5th in the Elite 4X. But it’s more likely that the challenge of retaining the title will fall to the Leander “A” crew. This quartet are very experienced scullers, Sam Mottram raced for Great Britain in the LM4X at the 2015 World Championships finishing 4th having won a silver medal at U23 level the same year. Seb Devereaux is one of a number of GB athletes studying in the USA and he’s a key member of the University of Washington Varsity 8 this season. Barney Stentiford is a product of the GB Start programme and raced for GB at U23 level in 2013. The final member of the crew is Frazier Christie, another of the World Class Start programme he also has U23 representational for GB. At Marlow regatta they picked up the silver medal (behind the Leander queen Mother Quad).
The third selected crew are Edinburgh and Durham Universities. They have the somewhat unusual record of having to come through the qualifiers. Clearly they impressed the Stewards as they were then rewarded with a “Selected” status. This is a potential GB U23 LM4X and includes junior World Champion Gavin Horsburgh along with Oliver Varley, Hugo Couusens and Matt Curtis. At marlow they finished a close 3rd behind the top two Leander boats.
The final Selected crew in this event are the Americans from the Schuylkill Navy High Performance Center. The crew of Erik Frid, Leonard Futterman, Jonathan Kirkegaard and Justin Keen were all part of the US Rowing Olympic Trials earlier this month. They’ve been put together specifically for Henley. Futterman and Kirkegaard finished 2nd in the M2X at the US Olympic trials and Frid raced for the USA in the U23 M2X in 2014. Justin keen placed 4th in the US trials and won the US national Championships earlier this year. They may be a scratch crew but there’s an awful lot of talent in this boat. They could well give the top British crews in the draw a real run for their money.
Outside of the Selected boats the crews to watch include the Swiss lightweights, Lausanne-sports Aviron. This boat has had a very successful domestic season and will be favourites for the Swiss Championships – an event they’ve won for 5 of the last 6 years. The crew includes U23 LM4X medallist Vincent Giorgis who also has a number of senior world Cup representative honours to his credit. Another senior international is Frederic Hanselman, the 38 year old has raced at no fewer than 22 World Cup regattas and 4 World Championships.
Christiana Roklub of Norway are former Norwegian champions but a number of the crew have only recently returned to rowing following a break for a few years. The absence doesn’t seem to have slowed them down as they were winners at Ghent Spring Regatta earlier this year. They face Leander “A” in the first round which will definitely be a baptism of fire for their Henley campaign.
Reading University were winners at the BUCS regatta and finished 7th in elite 4X at Marlow regatta, they include Olympic trialist Sam Twine and will face a good first round test against the Germans from Bayer Leverkusen & Munster.
My picks for the win…I think Leander “A” will make it 7 in a row for the Henley club.
Next up, the club events…