Sunday is finals day at Henley. The crowd is maybe one-third that of Saturday, but these folks are the real deal, either true fans of rowing and/or true patrons of the Regatta. Everyone pays attention to the races when they pass, and gracious recognition is given to all competitors, regardless of their position. If a crew is racing on Sunday, they deserve applause.
It is easier to hear the announcer on Sunday, and before the crews row into sight, his words are the only connection to the action, and they may bring anticipation, relief, worry, or despair. The “voice” also can pronounce the crew’s names in perfect English, Dutch, German, French, Serbian, …whatever language is needed. Where else is the announcer applauded for his work, and deservedly, after spouting a perfect Delftsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Proteus-Eretes?
This year I heard Mr.Voice use a term I had not heard before, the “shipwreck”, a.k.a. a crab. I don’t remember the event, maybe the Princess Grace Cup, when some crew suffered such a misadventure, unexpected on finals day.
Even more unexpected, and spoiling a potentially great race, was the pair of Jagar and Stojic hitting the booms early on. The Oxford pair of Daniels and Williams took a few lengths, and did not give them all back, although to their credit J and S tried. No matter how good, a boat has to go straight, and the price paid at Henley for wayward steering is a steep one.
The US women’s eight, rowing in the Rememham Cup as Princeton Training Center, is one fast crew. They followed up on yesterday’s course record with a 4 lengths plus win over the Dutch. I don’t know how far along that crew is in selection, but what I saw was very nice.
In the Temple Cup, Oxford Brookes used their 32 pounds per man advantage over the Cornell 1V Lightweights to blast out a one-half length lead at the start. That turned out to be the mean margin for the entire race. Brookes may have pushed out to three-quarters at one point, only to have the Big Red push back to one-quarter. Back and forth, charge and defend. Great racing, with Brookes crossing the line about one-half boat ahead. I’m proud of the Cornell effort, and Oxford Brookes were happy celebrants of their first Temple win in eleven years, after finishing second too many times.
In the Ladies Plate, Princeton and Leander ran dead level for the first minutes, then Princeton moved to the lead, and kept it. Sounds simple, but both crews were churning out lots of powerful strokes, and by appearances running near to their rev limiters (I’m watching a Formula 1 race while typing!) The bulk of the Tiger crew won the Temple Cup as freshmen, and this victory ends an outstanding collegiate career for these men. They had taped the initials G.T.C. ’86 on their shell, as their boat back home is the George T. Clements ’86. George passed away in a tragic accident just after his graduation 20 years ago, and his boat mates got together this year to remember him with the shell. Many of these men where at the races today, and were truly touched by the day’s result.
In the Princess Elizabeth, St. Ignatius Prep kept their power coming, and won moving away from King’s Chester. Another end to a great year, and gave US crews three and a half wins on the day. (Paul Daniels in the pair counts as the half!)
The prize presentation takes place at 6:00 this evening, after which I hope many of these finalists will have the chance to enjoy Henley as much as we spectators have. Nowhere else is the curse of the good rower so harsh: the good guys win, so they stay in training to race again, while the eliminated have a really good time. Not many partiers left in town this evening.
My reporting is nearly done. No apologies for my Americentricism; the US crews were my interest, and I can’t watch every race! I’ll be happy to head home tomorrow, trusting that I’ll return again soon.