During the lunch break, when Washington and Harvard should have completed their 11:50 match, showered and set up camp in the enclosures, both crews were actually just arriving for their rescheduled race. Mark Fuller from the Harvard's Prince Albert 4 was filling in for sick rower, said sick rower was in the medical tent, Mark's brother David was coxing and all was right in the world... for awhile.
Luke McGee, Washington Coach, on changing the schedule: He was decidedly neutral on the subject, (and I mean decidedly.)
"They (his rowers) went back and got some more rest, it is no problem really....a good crew can handle this," he states.
In their rescheduled race, which Washington led most of the way, Harvard coxswain Fuller raised his hand in protest about Washington's steering. Washington was warned at the 1/2 mile, the 3/4 mile and at the enclosures for steering, but the Umpire's report supports that Washington had command of the race, leading by about 1 length most of the way, and when they pressed to the finish, Harvard could not match it. The White Flag was raised; protest dismissed. Says one observer: "Washington was all over the bloody course!" Umpire for the race was Matthew Pinsent, who moved Washington over, but judged that the outcome would not have been different.
At lunch row2k was joined (by chance) with the father of Kieran West, six seat in the 2000 Sydney Olympic GB Gold-medal winning eight. That win was GB's first victory in the event since 1912, so it was a quite a moment for British rowing, which also had Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave in the mix rowing the four at the time. Mr. West was a coxswain years ago, and his two sons were rowers; this is his 53rd consecutive attendance at Henley. This is the kind of episode that occurs here. Another? The somewhat freakish-ly sized German Eight buying food at the Waitrose grocery store during the lunch break. Walking by one, the row2k reporter (5'9") was about to his bicep level. Whew. Says US Team coach Tim McClaren on the Germans...."well, it really is there technique that makes them so fast..."
Russian sculler Vyacheslav Ivanov, the first single sculler to win three gold rowing medals (in Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo in 1964) was in an Umpire boat following the Princess Grace Challenge on the Thames today, which drew a posse of about 25 Russian reporters and supporters to the Press Box over the finish line, a scene that inspired considerable grumbling within. Thankfully they departed in about 30 minutes, so the press can have their own little party.
Mahe Drysdale, not looking injured in the least, sent former Harvard rower and and current Canadian team rower (rowing as Brentwood College School) Malcolm Howard home today. Drysdale's long strokes, well....they are darn long strokes. Not many athletes can match this guy, and at Henley it is a treat to see him so close up for all the spectators, who will see more from Mahe against Swede Lesse Karonen tomorrow. Karonen took Crean (UK/Agecroft) methodically, taking his time to inch past, finally winning by open water.
Glenn Ochal and Warren Anderson faced the GB team double of Wells and Bateman in a match for the Double Challenge. The GB team established an early lead, which they never relinquished. The US contingent went for it, but could not keep contact, experiencing some "technical difficulties" they will likely work on before Lucerne and then over the long summer before Worlds. Observed a knowledgeable witness: look at the stern of their boat at the catch.....Now look at GB's....nuff said.
Can Harvard recapture the happy feeling today? It turned out, yes, during the Ladies' Plate Challenge. Rowing against Leander, Harvard had this match start to finish, easing off a bit to do a lovely row-by past the enclosures. Coxed by Kelly Evans, whose identical twin sister coxes at Brown (they've raced against each other), Harvard never let Leander really enter the race. The irony of this? These same Leander rowers (with 2 changes) will play Harvard in the staged row-by for the Facebook twin movie being filmed here at Henley tomorrow. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are here today, and one could argue these chaps should play themselves... they certainly know how to row and look like movie stars already, but there is something in the settlement with Zuckerberg that limits this.
So, should Leander just go to the boat bays and borrow the Harvard unis?
The Princeton Training Center Stewards four of Guiseppi Lanzone, Brett Newlin, Henrik Rummel and Josh Inman faced the Canadian four of Ben Wilkinson, David Calder, Fraser Berkhout and Will Crothers. Kevin Light, who is normally in this four, was out due to a blood clotting problem in his left leg, which is now being corrected with medication. It is uncertain if he will row in Lucerne. Canada loses a rower from the 2007 World Champs and 2008 Olympic gold medal winning eight in Light, and apparently there was some adjusting to be done. USA/PTC took this one by one length.
The US combination has been together for about a month, rowed well at Munich (silver), and will remain in this arrangement next weekend in Lucerne - then all bets are off. "They'll all return to California and Princeton and go back to work and we'll train," says Tim McClaren, dismayed a bit by the US lack of funding for sports. They all have jobs, he says, and that makes training like world-class athletes a challenge for his program. Right now there are more than eight athletes raising money to head out to Lucerne to join the team there.
More from Tim McClaren from a launch interview later, for now it's on to today's closing races.
The Princess Elizabeth Challenge stage was set today to advance only one US Crew to the Sunday final. St Joseph's has marched on with a come-from-behind bravado that has served them well and made for some exceptionally exciting races over the season. Kent has a way of building through the course as well, but there never seems to be that few meters of panic... are they going to go now? - like you sometimes have watching SJP. This was a match between the Scholastic National Champions and the Youth National Champions in the States, the victor could arguably be the real high school championship boat in the country.
In this one, Kent took the lead from the start, but Coach Houston had spoken to his crew about holding on to that position, being strong into the middle of the race where SJP charges, and then taking it home. That is how it panned out--with Kent really taking control, winning by an amazing three and a half lengths. St. Joe's can return to US very proud of their accomplishments here--it just wasn't their race this time.
With Kent set to be in the Henley final against Eton College Crew, one of the most successful school-age programs in the UK and in Henley history, Houston feels his athletes are not intimidated by the history. "It is not even on their radar," says Houston. "They just want to get out there and race."
As Kent crossed the finish line, and sat up tall on the coxswain's insistence, it was overheard (at least it sounded like...) "That felt really great guys," came a voice from the bow section. Winning at Henley does feel pretty good.
One more race for PTC! In the semi and first round for the Queen Mother Challenge, the quad of Eliot Hovey, Wes Piermarini, Will Miller and Scott Gault took the Club France boat from start to finish, moving away from France systematically. Starting at a slightly higher rating but then settling into a lower base rhythm, the US crew moved away nicely, winning by a length after dropping five beats. Hovey and Piermarini had won the double here two years ago under coach Tim McClaren's tutelage, they looked even better today rowing with two of US Rowing's most experienced scullers.
More early-AM details and interviews tomorrow, cheers!