Quarterfinals day at Henley and the racing starts to get personal. Cloud cover and a bit of rain provided a welcome respite from the heat of the first two days, while on the water the races were much closer and the emotions rawer.
Eight US crews have made it through in a day of mixed results with some spectacular comebacks and a few unfortunate incidents.
Brown rearranged their crews today after having to replace an injured member of their Ladies Plate A crew. Their Ladies Plate B crew had a bad time of it when their 7 man came off his seat on the second stroke, unable to get the seat back on the rails, they continued rowing with seven men to the end of the island where they stopped and appealed. After being reminded of the rules (there is no 100m rule at HRR), they raced on, but Leander & Molesey (the GB U23 eight) paddled home comfortably.
Brown's A crew fared better against MIT and despite a ragged start they quickly established a lead and their victory never looked in doubt.
The Brown Alumni crew in the Ladies (Porter Collins, Erik Winters, Richard Caputo, Ben Holbrook,Wyatt Allen, Lucas McGee, Jamie Koven and Pete Cipollone) had an easy round against University of West of England and Henley RC – as they passed the finish, Dan Topolski (on water traffic monitoring duties in the press box) shouted a direction to "The winning crew" – at which point the University of West of England and Henley RC looked up and one of them shouted back "are you talking to us?" with a grin.
Belmont Hill were knocked out of the PE today by Abingdon school (who are coached by ex-GB lightweight, Peter Haining). Belmont had a fast start and led along the Island but couldn't manage to get clear water over their opponents. As Abingdon clicked into gear and started to put on the pressure, Belmont were unable to stop the British crew from nibbling away at their lead, losing by 3/4 length.
In the other race on their half of the draw, Brunswick School had a fantastic race against Laytmer Upper School. Latymer were quicker of the start, their rate higher and their rhythm smoother than the Americans. Latymer took a length lead after the barrier but just when it looked like the Brunswick might not be able to recover they finally settled into their own pace and rhythm and slowly started to reel the other crew in. Sensing that they had a chance they put in a big push and moved through as the crews passed the Stewards Enclosure, winning by 1L.
Gevvie Stone beat Megan Kalmoe in the Princess Royal. Stone had a fast start and moved into an early lead, she dominated the rest of the race maintaining a lead of around 3 lengths over most of the course, and despite Kalmoe challenging around Remenham Club, she never looked pressured.
In the other half of the draw Ellen Tomek from the New York Athletic Club beat Australian Yasmin Burraston in a heat marked by erratic steering from both scullers in the first quarter mile.
The Visitors heats produced some good races; Mercyhurst College had a surprisingly easy victory against their considerably heavier German opposition, their relaxed rhythmical style helping to secure an "easily" victory. In their heat, Molesey beat the Newcastle / Czech crew despite having a bad start. Molesey bow man, GB International Simon Fieldhouse rowing in a boat named after himself. The last time Simon was in a Henley crew that wasn't selected they got to the final – no doubt the Molesey crew, stroked by American Mike Blomquist will be hoping to repeat the performance. While in the other heat Isis put out an Army & Thames composite.
Four Score and Fours progression in the Thames came to an abrupt end against local club Henley RC today when they hit the booms after emerging into the strong crosswind coming out from behind the island. They picked themselves up as quickly as possible and got back in the race but had lost about four lengths, and Henley were able to maintain their lead at a lower rating. HRR has a habit of throwing up odd co-incidences and it turns out that the Coach of the Henley RC crew raced against the Fourscore 6 seat in the final of the Temple in 2000. That race between the Yale lightweights and Oxford Brookes was an epic battle, Yale taking the rating up to 41 1/2 at the finish.
Yale's women's eight in the Remenham cruised through against a Scottish composite from Clyde and Edinburgh.
Spectators at the regatta were treated to several fly pasts by a Spitfire during the lunch break, as part of the Remenham Club's centenary. The Remenham clubhouse, which is situated about halfway down the course, is a social club for seven London-based rowing clubs (Kingston, Staines, London, Thames, Twickenham, Vesta and Molesey). As well as the aerial acrobatics and a row past by each of the founding clubs, Prince Michael of Kent was at the club this afternoon to unveil a plaque marking the Club's 100th anniversary.
For the last few years the famous Saturday night fireworks combined with the increased number of alcohol outlets on the non-regatta land by the start have been attracting more and more teenagers looking for alcohol and a chance to brawl. As reports of antisocial behaviour increased, things were finally brought to a head last year when a competitor was stabbed and another slashed. As a result the Stewards withdrew their use of their land for the display.
Recently it was announced that the firework display was to to be 'rescued' by local businesses and land owners, however it now appears they have been pulled yet again after the local council worked out that a public right of way goes through the middle of the field in which they were to be held. Unfortunately, as the announcement was only made today, it's likely that lots of people will still turn up tomorrow evening expecting a show, so the trouble the Stewards so wanted to avoid may still happen.
US Crews who progressed today:
Princess Royal – G Stone; E Tomek
Remenham – Yale
Visitors – Mercyhurst College
Ladies – Brown 'A' ; Brown University Alumni & New York
Temple – Princeton, Brown
Princess Elizabeth – Brunswick School
Prince Albert - Yale