Every day the numbers shrink here at Henley. No repechage, no petite finals. That stark fact means leaving everything on the course, and sometimes even with that effort, the draw creates a mismatch crews just cannot overcome. So it goes, and so the crews go: fully half sent home each day.
The afternoon session commenced with Cambridge Boat Club's Gevvie Stone leading opponent Johnson from Leeds Rowing Club all the way down the course. Stone, the top single sculler at the US's National Selection Regatta this year, got an early lead and extended that lead, ultimately winning by 4 lengths after easing up on the pressure and taking it down to a 25 stroke rating as she passed the Stewards. More racing tomorrow, no need to put it all out there with open water, particularly when when a top four finish next week in Lucerne earns Stone a spot on the US team for this year's Worlds. Tomorrow, she faces Dutch rower Dekker from ASR Nereus in another match of the Princess Royal Challenge Cup.
In a Fawley Challenge Cup race for Junior quads, Maritime Rowing Club of Connecticut lost to Radford College, Australia. The Australian crew had command of this race the entire 2100 meters.
In the second Ladies Challenge Plate contest of the day, Penn AC of Philadelphia, USA, took on defending champion Harvard. Five of the oarsmen in this Harvard Varsity boat were in the 2010 Ladies Plate winning crew. Harvard also won this event in 2007 and 2002 and certainly look the part of a championship crew yet again here in 2011. Penn AC was loaded with some elite athletes, but Harvard has of course had the benefit of constant contests in the EARC league for the last three months to keep them sharp. Penn AC put up a good fight (after all, they know what they are doing) but Harvard had that emotional advantage of being racers fresh on their minds and in those carefully-tended muscles. Onward for Harvard now in the Ladies as well as the Temple and Prince Albert.
Part of lunch interval for this reporter was spent in an informal lunch with the US Men's National team, racing here as the Chula Vista Training Center, and US Head Coach Tim McLaren. Shortly after sitting down, the conversation split on two sides of the table. One side was talking about hunting, shooting and guns; the other side was talking about physics. Now this is interesting. While Josh Inman appeared to be the sporting enthusiast, coxswain Ned DelGuercio has extensive sporting clay experience. The funny thing is, DelGuercio went to buy a new firearm while in California, and was filling out the application when the shop keeper told him he can't purchase a gun unless he gets a new Driver's License. Yes, Ned has a driver's license, but not in California. He is licensed in Pennsylvania. On the other side of the table, where perhaps Henrik Rummel was giving stroke of the Eight and Cal Graduate Nareg Guregian a hard time (but then Rummel did note how important Wikipedia was in his Harvard education), they were still talking about physics, until the direction of the questioning then turned toward the James bothers, Grant and Ross, who were expert marksmen in Illinois and on the national stage at the 300 and 600 meter distances. They might be the gun experts.
The James brothers were asked a few questions:
1: why did you drop a gun and pick up an oar?
2: are you the Facebook twins?
3: are you paying for lunch?
Most of these athletes will be racing tomorrow. Will Miller and Glenn Ochal raced this morning and won easily in the Doubles Challenge. In a race of the Stewards Challenge for Straight Fours, the Chula Vista squad of Guiseppe Lanzone, Brett Newlin, Charlie Cole, and Scott Gault had an unequal opponent in many respects, but still managed to equal the course record to the Barrier. To look at the course records online, they beat the record with a 1:50, but the umpire report states they matched it; either way it was a fast start. Meanwhile the crew the US was racing, the Chinese Four from Shandong Water Sports Center, hit the buoys at Temple Island, recovered, and directly went right for an opening in the booms. They recovered from that as well, all without impeding the US Crew, but had given US an easy 4 length jump. US guys raced it out, but lowered the rate and saved something for tomorrow in the end.
After tea, the USA Women's eight, defending Olympic champs and five-time World Champions, raced in the opening round of the Remenham Challenge Cup as Princeton Training Center. Their opponent was a group of familiar faces: the women's eight from Princeton University. The collegians, although big fish in their own pond (or perhaps Cooper River or Lake Natoma), had a tough time against this crew. Princeton University won the Champ Eight at the Charles last fall to start their year and ran undefeated the whole way stateside, winning the Eastern Sprints and the varsity eight final at the NCAA Championships. They had a good showing at Women's Henley as well, before running into a very seasoned British National Team development boat. The Princeton Training Center just had them in size, experience, and power: the national teamers have some amazing erg scores, many near 6:30, and set new records all the way down the course as they pushed the pace in this one. The USA's time was the fastest of the day in the women's eights by a healthy margin, to boot. The Tigers gave it the ol' college try, though, and even had their bow ahead, if briefly, in the early going. In the end, Princeton's Tigers were clearly racing their own race, and the US Women were serving notice. They beat their own course record here by fully six seconds, and had two quads from the team put up big wins as well.
In the Thames Challenge Cup, University Barge Club from Philadelphia faced the Star Club from Bedford, UK. They raced level to the quarter mile, but once Star Club lengthened out, they really had the race. University Barge struggled with settling in to a good rhythm, but gave Star Club a good fight before the British crew was able to pull away to win by two lengths.
In the end, this might be great news for Ryan Bonner, who left behind his three-week old baby girl, Quinn. No worries for that young girl: seems she is in the hands of eager Mom and grandmother "down the shore," which is Philadelphia-ese for "a beach holiday." Congrats to the new Dad. Good racing for University Barge here, who have taken this Thames Cup as another challenge for masters rowers.Goodnight from Henley, on to Leander this evening.