Henley Royal Regatta. The most prestigious regatta in the UK and arguably the world.
This year The Boat Club had 5 boats entered, all after that little red box that so many athletes across the world crave. 4 boats would have to face the terrifying ordeal that is the Henley Royal Regatta Qualifiers. The wait for the results that could spell the end of your season or the start of something great.
The 4 boats were the 2nd VIII, entered in The Temple Challenge Cup, Sam Tuck and Andy Brown entered in the The Double Sculls Challenge Cup, the Freshers Coxed 4 in The Prince Albert Challenge Cup and the Women’s 1st VIII in The Remenham Challenge Cup.
A pumping headwind greeted all the crews at the Qualifiers which would be a real test. Unfortunately the inexperience of the freshers 4 and lack of boat time in the Women’s VIII showed, as they both failed to qualify. The 2nd VIII did an excellent job qualifying for the Temple, as did the Double for the Double Sculls.
In a bizarre twist of fate, Durham ‘A’ (1st VIII) were drawn against Eton ‘B’ (J16.1) and Durham ‘B’ (2nd VIII) were drawn against Eton ‘A’ (2nd VIII). The Stewards, obviously not expecting much of race, timetabled Durham ‘A’ to race Eton ‘B’ at 9.05am. Durham ‘A’ duly delivered a 4 1/4 length victory over Eton ‘B’. Durham ‘B’ were timetabled to race an hour later, and although Eton ‘A’ put up a good fight, the victory for Durham ‘B’ was never in doubt.
And so onto Thursday, which would see 3 Durham crews competing. The Double, having enjoyed a rest day the previous day, were first up against C.K.Massey and T.R.Brown of the USA. Although Durham led at the Barrier, over the full length of the course, the US boat proved too strong for the Durham Double. It has to be said though that given the amount of training the Durham double had had, it was a fantastic achievement to make the main draw.
Next was the turn of the Durham ‘B’ crew in the Temple. They faced the mighty Cornell University ‘A’ crew. Durham fought valiantly but ultimately were unable to make an impression on the Cornell boat.
Finally it was the turn of the Durham ‘A’ crew. Having dispatched the school boys the previous day, it was time for a tougher challenge. This came in the form of Imperial College ‘A’, a crew that the same Durham boat had beaten only by a foot at Marlow Regatta, two weeks previously. However this time round, Durham shut the door early and never allowed Imperial back into the race, in the end winning by 1 3/4.
Friday brought a crackle of anticipation at two crews, Oxford Brookes ‘A’ and Durham ‘A’, fought to be the sole British representative in the Temple Challenge Cup. Brookes, the BUCS Championship 8’s winners from this year, were the clear favourites. Although Durham did everything within their power to try and win, Brookes were not to be stopped. The same Brookes crew went on to beat Brown University in the final to end 7 years without a British winner in the Temple.