The first day of Henley Royal Regatta sees 178 crews take to the water in a year where various records have already fallen. The event has seen a staggering 629 boat entries, eclipsing the previous record by 77, whilst 27 nations were registered for the regatta on Monday 13th June. Several notable scalps were claimed at last Friday's qualifying races, before the regatta draw threw up some mouth-watering first-day clashes.
The opening race on Wednesday will see Waikato Rowing Club, national club champions in their native New Zealand, face off against Putney-based London Rowing Club 'B'. Cornell is the first US crew to take to the water in The Temple Cup against Brits Oxford Brookes University 'C'.
There is strong American representation in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup with both Brunswick School and Boston College High School both facing London opposition in the form of Latymer Upper School and Dulwich College respectively.
The racing continues at an exhilarating pace throughout the day, with domestic favourites Oxford Brookes taking on Holland's K.S.R Njord in the Temple Challenge Cup at 10:30am. The Brookes B crew will go head to head with the University of California, Berkley and Drexel will face University College Dublin. As is often the case, the event for student eights was heavily over-subscribed and Wednesday also pits junior varsity champions Harvard against the University of Michigan 'A', who were winners at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.
The Thames Challenge Cup contains crews from China, Switzerland, Australia, Holland, Germany, Norway, Ireland and the USA. University Barge Club were semi-finalists in this event last year and they face London Rowing Club 'A' at midday. Swiss national champions SeeClub Luzern start their Regatta campaign against Ursus Boat Club twenty minutes beforehand.
In the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights, old rivals renew acquaintances as all 32 crews take to the water. Winners in 2015, St Paul's School of Hammersmith, London open the defence of their title against the Windsor Boys School at 4:05pm, whilst Jesuit College Prep School take on a team relatively local to Henley in Pangbourne College and it's another local school, Reading Blue Coat who will race St Paul's School, Concord.
The club fours have played host to an incredible depth and breadth of entry, but it may be the domestic crews who stand the best chance in this event - the Tideway Scullers School were finalists in the 2014 and 2015 Wyfold Challenge Cups and are back for another crack this year. They begin their campaign at 3:15pm against Lady Elizabeth Boat Club of Ireland. Tideway Scullers are also represented in the Britannia Challenge Cup racing Utah Crew
Northwich Rowing Club supporters will be split on Wednesday lunchtime as their A and B crews meet in the first round of the Fawley Challenge Cup. The category will not see the full contingent of crews on the opening day, as eight selected boats are granted automatic passage to the Thursday.