The Silver Goblets and Nickalls Cup has been contested Thursday and Friday with just three entries out of 19 that were American. Trinity, Columbia and Salisbury School sent pairs to one of the toughest races of the Henley. It is an event that seems uniquely polarized on the Thames course. In this 2008 version of the regatta, eight of the races have been won 'easily.' Columbia University's Rizzo and Celano's 2-length loss was the shortest margin in the Cup so far. This was one that you couldn't call after 600 meters, where other match-ups were crystal clear.
Onward to Friday afternoon racing. To open the afternoon for US crews, Cornell, who dominated the lightweight championship season in the States with Sprints and IRA wins, lined up against Stanford Freshman Heavyweights. This was mentioned last year by row2k when Cornell fell to Cal in the finals, here it will be mentioned again:
Cal was bigger than Cornell by about 28 pounds in 2007, they won.
Stanford outweighs the current Cornell crew by about 42 pounds per rower, that's 336 total pounds of muscle and bones, as it looked like the Stanford guys were well trained by Coach Pete Giese, not sandbags. "They're some beef in that boat," observed Cornell Coach Kennett of his opponent's boat on the way down to the start. Giese's related inquiry: "Is it true that your 6-seat weighs only 150 pounds?" Reply: "Nah, he weighs at least 155 now?he's been lifting weights." Watch out.
That said, however, there was a lot of talk in the boat tents about how Cornell was a very likely victor of this match. Cornell has only gained momentum as the season has gone on, improving skills to meet their fitness. Trinity Coach Larry Gluckman agreed: "Cornell is one of the slickest boats out there."
A side note to the Giese/Stanford v. Kennett/Cornell match here at Henley. Kennett coached Giese in an U23 Development camp a few years back in Ithaca. There is more involving Kennett grabbing a pigeon from a bridge and performing a mock-Olympic release of the bird, but that may involve explaining Kennett's animal husbandry background. (Also a source of a whip analogy he uses for motivation?) Ask Todd, remember he wins.
There is a race here, right?
Stanford blasted out of the start, their stroke setting the tone for a powerful pass of Temple Island. "He has been a pleasant surprise," said Giese. Cornell stayed with Stanford, but just off pace. By the barrier, Stanford was almost a half length up on Cornell and extended it to one length. Past the enclosures, Cornell ratcheted it up and came within 1/4 length of the Stanford crew at Berks. They continued to row well, but the heft behind each oar in the other lane was just too much. Stanford won by one length, looking very poised for a freshman crew, the program will likely build from this current boatful of skilled guys, a couple of whom are novices.
Holly Hatton's Boston University Women's crew was the next down the course for the Remenham Cup. Racing the Osiris Boat Club, AKA the Oxford "reserve" boat, Boston stayed with the crew from Oxford, rowing in the Bucks station 2. They were a well-matched race, but ultimately Osiris was able to bring up the rating and please the hometown crowd with a 1/2 length victory. Boston University was second at the Women's Henley last week and have been rowing a lot here in the Thames, so good training and racing trip for the crew.
Ditto for the Columbia crew. Pub talk is that Columbia has been cranking out some kilometers on the Thames in the past week, training hard into the Henley. They did look like the strong crew that was in the finals of the Eastern Sprints, but the Dutch boat in the Berks was a composite that had just been runner's up (about 2 or 3 seconds was the span given by a Dutch observer) to the Dutch lightweight team in the Amsterdam regatta. Columbia lost by just 2/3 lengths in the Ladies Challenge Cup.
One of the heartbreaks of the day was St. Joseph's loss to Eton College crew. St. Joe's lost by a length and a 1/4, a distance Coach Bill Lamb attributes to his crew not necessarily rowing their own race. The Stotesbury champions had a good start and were even at Temple. Coach Lamb said he never saw the strong settle that had been effective for them over the season. ?They row really well at a 34-35,? said Lamb. As the two junior crews blasted away from the island, Eton stayed at a 37, St. Joe's tried the same. The Prep did eventually get in a groove, but this was a well-matched race, and playing catch-up is a tough role (Should it be said that proved especially true from the Bucks for US crews who seem to always be in Bucks?).
To conclude afternoon racing for US crews, California Rowing Center won by four lengths, low rating, against a composite Nottingham RC/Loughborough Students boat. There will be more news about California RC and their Aussie coach Tim McClaren, in later Henley reports. Stay tuned, there's a lot of news.