Saturday morning at the Thames course and it promises to be a action-packed and people-packed due to decreasing winning margins and increasingly pleasant weather. Meanwhile, the boatracks are starting to empty out as crews de-rig and load up their shells; the crews still left in the mix are a very select group.
Half-hour into racing, the Prince Albert four from Harvard University lost by 2/3 length to University College, Dublin. As these crews battled down the Thames, they were always in contact, with a half or three quarters of a length lead for UCD. This one came down to the sprint, with Harvard driving to keep contact over the whole of the course. At the finish, the Crimson's efforts brought them within 2/3 of a length. Ah, the weekend at Henley!
For those of you following the path of Potomac Boat Club: sadly, they also were eliminated today. It was a rather impressive go, all 'round. West End Rowing Club, New Zealand, knocked them out of the Thames Cup brackets with a one and a quarter length victory. Potomac BC was ahead to the barrier by 2/3 length lead - making lots of noise at the start by the way - and moving the boat well. West End picked it up at about the 3/4 mile post, got ahead, and never relinquished their slight lead. This makes for very exciting Henley racing, as a true boat match was taking place, with each oarsman aware of the opposition with every stroke, even with the mantra of keeping the focus within the boat. They can enjoy the fireworks this evening in Henley, maybe a few adult beverages... and get back to the grind on Monday. Kudos to PBC.
The Washington v. Harvard Temple race between the bi-coastal freshman squads scheduled for 11:50 today was postponed.
"One of our rowers has food poisoning," says Coach Bill Manning of Harvard. Apparently 2-seat Alex McIntosh was "feeling poorly," says the Press Secretary, and Harvard will now have a Prince Albert rower sub into this combination for an afternoon match of the Temple at 4:00 pm. The Prince Albert rower was still on the water when all of this was playing out; he will have a bit of time to rest before he puts more meters on those legs.
In the Grand Challenge today, a match between Hansa Dortmund, Germany (AKA German National team) and Victoria City and Shawnigan Lake BC (Canada) produced a tie for the record Barrier time, a record now shared by 4 boats. This was a fast one; Canada's seat shifting has certainly created speed, and likely will offer some more by the World Championships. For the German team, any takers on a wager for the Lucerne Men's Eight?
At the lunch break, a representative crew from the Harvard University 1958/1959/1960 Thames winners, the only time it was won three times consecutively, rowed down the course. In 1960, these Harvard oarsmen set course records all the way down the course.
Enough watching....time for lunch!