Michelle Guerrette got it done.
Stepping back to earlier in the day, I failed to credit US women's single sculler Michelle Guerette for her strong race against Klaassen from Holland. Guerette had an impressive lead throughout; the announcer did the polite thing and stopped mentioning by how much. Guerette will meet Blondelle from Belgium tomorrow afternoon. She had the leisure to row low today; she should be fresh with a nice warm-up to boot.
Friday afternoon racing produced an interesting scene for the semifinals of the Temple Challenge Cup. First, Brown knocked out Syracuse by 3 and a half lengths. Later, Colgate did the same to Trinity College, Dublin, winning by 1 length. The result? With the Cal frosh and Cornell lights also qualified for the semis, a US crew will is guaranteed some hardware.
With all times of the US crews heading for the next round of the Temple within 5 second of each other (conditions varied), the semifinal matches promise to ignite the parental throngs here at Henley. Saturday will force Americans to align in one camp: Cornell lightweights, Cal frosh, Brown frosh and Colgate. A throw-down at the finish may just get the banks cheering, even if Leander, Henley, or Thames are not on the course.
In late afternoon matches, Harvard raced Henley RC and Thames RC for the Visitor's Challenge Cup. This was a live one! Harvard hit the boom but went on to win by 5 feet. Note their opposition, and understand why this was the first race where I heard the cheering from the press tent.
There was one UK crew that kept catching the eye; it had a NYAC uni sitting in three seat. Curious, I looked for the answer to this puzzle. Turns out it was Christian Albert, 38, who is a mate with Mike Blomquist, now retired at 25 and living in London, rowing for Molesey. The boys played at the training center together last year. Albert got a second in the pairs trials last summer. Blomquist asked Albert to hop in a boat they were putting together for Henley. Mike and Christian estimate the boat average age to be in the early thirties, young man Mike the baby there. Last year, the slightly older Albert said "all he did was train," to prepare for camps and higher level competition. The Brown Alum rows at the Charles with the Bruno gang and will row in Zambezi this summer at the Livingston Regatta. This particular line up of experienced oarsmen rowed for the first time on Tuesday, looks like they worked out the glitches. They will challenge Leander Club and Henley B.C. for the Ladies' Cup tomorrow.
OK, time for some fun:
* golly the best place to hear good stuff is at the Boat Tent. I may be imagining it but it seems middle-aged to slightly older women hang out there. Here's what I heard this time:
Woman to man beside her (note that this man is slight in build, not particularly rugged) as a large-ish Diamond Scull competitor carried his boat by: "Now, you see that! That's what I like." Things don't look good for this gent tonight.
* While passing the throngs of under-25er's outside the Boathouse: "Hey mate! (To another boy in the interior) Let me use your provisional license so I can get in!"
* how to flush out a press tent: any elite rower on the course. Don't know if this is like Crying Wolf, but I may try it if press accommodations get cramped tomorrow. "Hey, Mahe's out there!"
* just a small fact. Three fellows in the Diamonds have won it before: Campbell from Tideways, Drysdale from NZ and Hacker, Germany. Wonder if Schroeder can join this fraternity?
See you at the Semifinals!