The last match of US crews in the Temple rolled down the course this afternoon, and rolled indeed, as the wind that has been gusting in Henley-on-Thames has sent the straw hats to the wind and water, and oars slapping unexpected swells.
This round was a Trinity and Stanford bout, and pugilists they were. Trinity had a goal to "be efficient as possible in to the wind," said sophomore coxswain Flip Luisi. "We were sure there was going to be bad strokes in the chop, we just had to recover from them and stay focused," he adds. It was because of this focus on efficiency the crew had more juice in them at Fawley and they turned it on, commented Luisi.
Coach Gluckman, again the diligent planner, toyed with the oars a bit prior to racing to prepare for the conditions.
Trinity led from the start from the Berks station, rating slightly higher consistently, and staying true to the plan to not react to the wind. Stanford kept close, but could not muster and sustained bursts that brought them any closer than a length and a quarter. Trinity, perhaps energized by the crowd, drew away to two lengths at the finish, moving on to the final.
In another round of the Grand, Victoria City R.C. and Kingston R.C., Canada (the Canadian U23 team) and Leander Club fought with the headwind as well. The Canadian Team was warned for steering several times, but kept about a 1 length lead throughout the race. Just passed the mile, Leander pressed Canada, and narrowed the lead to just a canvas at the finish, but Canada was the victor.
A word on the weather: local reports have wind at 15 mph, gusting 30 miles per hour.
Said one observer: "that's gotta' hurt."
In a round of the Prince of Wales Challenge for quads, Riverside Boat Club faced Leander Club and London Rowing Club, a tough draw for them. This composite crew is actually the British LW quad. RBC rowed hard and consistently, but lost this one by 4 and 1/2 lengths. The Riverside boat is made up of some young talent from the Riverside Boat Club's High Performance program.
Coach Bruce Smith could not make the trip, so MIT LW coach Ted Benford helped out. The crew all has National team experience from the LW ranks, bow man Ben Ludlow is just about to start classes at Dartmouth and was a junior national team guy. Jeff Forrester at stroke was in the 2007 LW 8, Pete Morelli in the 2006 USLW 8. John Dise completes the picture, still need more information on three-seat, but I imagine I can get this from the row2k-watching RBC folks--thanks!
Just after the tea break, Volker Nolte's University of Western Ontario took on Harvard Freshman Heavyweights. Western Ontario was coming to Henley by way of Germany, where they competed in the German University Championships and won. Nolte had contacts in Germany that were able to provide UWO with a magenta boat (used by 2006 German national team) and German national team blades. Not a bad rig. They do row only 1000 meters there, so it was an interesting tune-up for the 2100+ meters at Henley. The core of this crew was Canadian Champions in 2006 and 2007. The Canadian season is August to November, so the team has not raced much this year.
"A group of seniors decided to go to Henley this year, and this was an unfunded trip--but they made the commitment," says Nolte.
The Harvard freshman looked physically up to the challenge, but they were hit hard by the wind in the middle of the race in Bucks, and as the starboard oars were thrown up by the wind, you could see the entire crew struggling. An international crew, the Harvard boys hale from UK, Canada, Australia, US and Ireland, 7-seat Anthony Locke was coming home, essentially. He was also arriving with a shoulder injury, but recovered in time to start racing this week.
University of Western Ontario led from the start, keeping water between themselves and Harvard almost the entire race. They seemed to handle the conditions better, and rowed with a great deal of confidence. A few bobbles seemed to affect Harvard's length, and the win seemed certain for UWO by the Grandstand. They pulled to a 3 and 3/4 lead at the finish, advancing to the next race.
At the finish line, a few UWO rowers pumped their fists with joy.
row2k commented to Nolte: "They seem happy."
Nolte (who had remained amazingly calm): "I am happy too."
There are a couple more races to report for this afternoon, but the tents (press and boat) close early today, will get more news from today in Sunday morning report.