Conditions: overcast, a bit chilly, and the headwind is still around, but on most counts a bit muted compared to the past few days.
The Yale women were in the thick of what might have been the race of the day when disaster struck; the crew had rowed back from a 3/4 length deficit against Thames RC to take a half-length lead at the mile mark; Thames then rallied to draw within a deck by the 1 1/8, and the crews were close to even, and the pressure was wratcheting up, when a bobble on one stroke caused a major crab on the next in the Yale boat, and the crew all but stopped rowing right at the beginning of the big grandstands. Thames rowed on to win the race by 2 3/4 lengths. Tough way to go out. In the other semi, a Durham/Leander crew beat the Ukrainian U23 team almost in a walk, making an all-Brit final in the Remenham.
Trinity had a somewhat easier day of it today; after yesterday's clubfight of a quarterfinal, they must have needed the rest. In the other bracket, Yale has not been pressed yet at Henley; Andy Card has remarked a couple times on the crew's luck thus far. Tomorrow will be an all-US final, an unofficial Connecticut State Championships of sorts. The two crews got together back in CT to scrimmage a bit before they left the US, so probably know one another's profile, and Andy was a lightweight at Princeton when Larry was the heavyweight coaches. Likely few secrets here, and this should be a good race.
The information I received about doubling up being restricted to one sweep and one sculling event appears to be incorrect, as Barney Williams doubled in the Oxford Grand Challenge eight today. Unfortunately, that was the end of the doubling, as the German eight won the semi with a stellar row that counted on doing as much damage early as they could, then just responding to Oxford's pushes from the lead - classic dual racing.
The Malvern quad fell in a close race to a tough Holland crew; approaching the finish line, it looked like they had a shot, but being on the outside station, the current and wind may have played a part in dampening their sprint, and they couldn't quite match the Dutch closing push. The race description: "An excellent race between two talented Fawley quads. A tense struggle into a strong headwind with the Dutch quad leading but never more than 1/2 length until the progress boards. They sculled away with great maturity, skill, and power." the margins read thusly: "canvas - 1/2 l - 1/2 l - 3 ft - canvas - canva - 1 length."
As I understand it, the most recently minted Stewards get the shite jobs at Henley; for example, Matt Pinsent has spent his fair time with a bullhorn on a cold corner of the press box marshalling crews and powerboats.
Thus far, this is the quietest Saturday at Henley I have seen, in particular on the far side of the booms, and in boat traffic. The booms are usually packed with punts and small powerboats tied off and filled with familes and drunken revellers alike; this morning there is a boat maybe every 20 feet. A couple days of intermittent rain and cold winds seems to have kept people home, and least for the day-long show; we'll see how it goes this afternoon.
Some folks stick to tried and true scripts - the ladies with the pink ballons, lowcut dresses and gads of champagne have been out in force, as has the family in the punt with the antique Victrola playing scratchy 78s, and the folks with the gargantuan black dog covered with slobber sitting in the coxswains seat.
Last night at regatta's end, the sound system queued up "God Save the Queen" (you know, "My Country 'Tis of Thee" with some strange words), and everyone got to their feet irrespective of where they were, including in the launch coming in from the final race; I put up a photo this morning.
The rowing course starts going in in April, and doesn't come out completely until late in the summer; that gave a local waterbird plenty of time to set up a home on the progress board/photographer's pontoon. Since yesterday afternoon, the bird had a couple baby birds; I guess that's what birds (and bees) do. One photographer guaranteed he would get the photo in the paper - that's Henley coverage for you. Of course I posted a shot as well.
Parting shot: the photo of the guys drinking beer above an American flag was taken at least 15 minutes after noon, so no foul committed. And you have to respect their work ethic; it takes hard work to get a proper beer gut.