A clash between the Olympic and World Champion men's eights could be in store
The 2015 Henley Royal Regatta could see a clash of the reigning World and Olympic Champions if both Great Britain and Germany reach the final of The Grand Challenge Cup for men's eights.
Germany, also the reigning European Champions, took the Olympic title in 2012 but the British have won the last two World titles in the sport's Blue Riband event. GB will race as Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club and Germany will be represented by Hansa von 1898 e.V. Dortmund.
Henley will also witness attempts by both the reigning Olympic Champions to add a fifth title apiece in the single sculls events for men and women - The Diamond Challenge Sculls and The Princess Royal Challenge Cup - as both New Zealander Mahe Drysdale and the Czech Republic's Mirka Knapkova are on the entry list.
Knapkova won in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Drysdale's wins came in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2014. Olympic 2012 bronze medallist, Alan Campbell, representing Tideway Scullers' School, won the title in 2011 and is entered this year.
Independence Day celebrations in Henley-on-Thames, hosting the 176th anniversary of this pre-eminent river-based Regatta which began in 1839, could be busier than usual as a record 59 crews have entered from the USA - 11 more than the previous record set in 2011.
"We certainly have some headline international racing to relish but I'm also pleased with the level of club, school, college and university entries", said Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-times Olympic Champion who was elected to the post of Chairman of the Committee of Management of the Regatta last year when Mike Sweeney stepped down after 22 years at the helm.
"I think there could be a fascinating battle between Eton, St Paul's and Westminster and a strong overseas entry in the schoolboy eights (The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup) for instance, and potentially another big tussle between Gloucester RC and Marlow RC for the junior women's quadruple sculls trophy (The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup)."
"Nearly every organisation that won a trophy last year will be back in action again and that includes clubs like Upper Thames RC who had not won a trophy in their preceding 51 years of history until they won twice last year. Those kind of moments make an event like Henley very special".
The gladiatorial style of head-to-head races on the famous 1 mile 550 yard long course will be seen beyond the tens of thousands of spectators that line the river bank this year as the Regatta will be live-streamed across the five days on the Regatta's official You Tube channel.
A strong entry from the GB Rowing Team, representing their clubs, includes both the European Champions in the men's coxless four in The Stewards' Challenge Cup and the men's pair in The Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup.
Polly Swann, World Champion in the women's pair in 2013, will ease her way back into competitive racing with a tilt at the women's single sculls event, The Princess Royal Challenge Cup. The GB women's eight and quad will also be in action.
There are tip-top entries at development level from the USA and Australia, setting up what could be a fabulous event in The Ladies' Challenge Plate for Intermediate men's eights with Leander Club also providing a strong contender.