St. Joseph's Prep
Conditions this afternoon were more of the same; dark and overcast, with a direct headwind.
The Canadian 4- seems pretty good: they were at 24 by Fawley, and were rowing 17 1/2 for the last quarter mile of the race.
The GB pair didn't have the heat to run with the South Africans; I understand that the pair was selected mainly because both Wests are studying for post-grad degrees in the same area, and can't attend camps proper.
The Brown Alumni coughed up what may go down as the best race of the entire regatta against Cambridge in the Ladies; not more than a two feet officially separated the two crews until the finish line. A couple shaky strokes near the finish were all that kept the Brown crew from the Sunday final; even though the crew was mostly a buddy boat, and has rowed together about 10 times before today, you could tell that these were guys who still like to win, and take a close loss hard. The Pimms will slake those old thirsts, a little at least, if never completely.
The race description showed rare exclamatory emotion: "What a race! between two amazingly well-matched and high-class crews. A treat to watch and to remember. Both crews coped equally well with the head wind. Both crews deserve the highest praise." The official margins read thusly: Level; Brown by 2 feet; Brown by 1 foot; Level; Cambridge by 1 foot; Level; Cambridge by 3 feet.
Disaster area: The York City crew racing in the Wyfolds nearly rammed an umpire's launch during practice on Wednesday, the hit a piling and bent a rigger, and then yesterday steered into the Star and Arrow crew in the first few strokes of their race; they were dq'd.
West of England, who fell to the Yale lights today, were the only non-selected crew to advance to the semis in the event.
St. Joe's stuck with a quick-starting St. Paul's crew, then rowed away, staying aggressive all the way down the course despite and 2+ length lead (the official margin of 1 3/4 lengths was on the generous side). The crew even threw in a bit of a sprint; maybe to burn off some finals night jitters, hard to know.
The Canadian Oxford pair struggled with their steering, receiving several warnings - please, no reprises, guys - but held off the Danish pair to win by about a length.
A Dutch sculler pulled the old jump out of the boat trick today; a few strokes into the race, his gate popped open and he lost one oar; he then rowed with one oar until the quarter mile mark, where he jettisoned the other oar, then heaved himself over the gunwale as well.
Wyatt Allen's 7:00 race was postponed to 7:30 when his opposition, AF Warnock, broke an oar on a piling during the warmup. Subsequently, during the race, Warnock was warned for his steering, which is accompanied by the umpire waving a white flag. After the race, Wyatt recalled "It's amazing when you're racing in this wind how much Warnock sounds like "weigh enough." I heard that and saw the flag, and stopped rowing for two strokes. When the other sculler kept rowing, I picked it up again."
As I mentioned previously, God Save the Queen plays seconds after the last race crosses the line. Wyatt Allen was just starting to paddle home when the anthem kicked in; Wyatt being Wyatt, he stopped paddling, then doffed his cap for the duration of the anthem. Wyatt races in the final tomorrow; a turnaround from a 7:30 race won't be easy, whew.
Of course folks know that the sense of smell is very closely allied with memory; of all things Henley, the smell of the grass and the smell of malt and hops of brewing beer can spark the most powerful memories of the regatta. The grass still stinks perfectly, but the beer is gone; the Brakspear Brewery is now history. The brewery was the site of another Henley tradition; in bygone times, overweight coxswains were sent to the brewery to turn the hops in the drying rooms to assist in weight loss.
Three Stewards celebrated the 30th anniversary of their election in 1975: David Chipp, Mike Sweeney, and US steering light Hart Perry. Congrats...
By the end of racing, the sounds of the Live8 concert were pouring from sound systems in houses along the river and from boats - probably not quite the same as being at the Independence Day Regatta, tho...