Canada's women eight beat out the local favourites today to win at the Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames, England.
The Canadian women set the tone for the race with a solid start and ended up winning by two lengths in a total time of 7.29 minutes over the British team, representing Leander Club and Oxford Brookes University. They raced a distance of 2,112 metres, unique to this regatta, in gusty headwind conditions.
"We train in all conditions (on Fanshawe Lake in London, Ont.) and we're accustomed to the wind, but we didn't underestimate the British. We took some sloppy strokes, and so did they. The results speak for themselves," said women's team veteran Darcy Marquardt, who won this event once before. Of today's winners, only Marquardt and crew mate Andréanne Morin were part of the Canadian boat that took this title in 2003 beating out an Australian crew.
"This win feels sweeter this time around, and it's a reaffirmation of where we want to be as we head into the World Cup in Lucerne and prepare for the Worlds in November."
The women's eight is Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, ON, Cristin McCarty of Saskatoon, SK, Darcy Marquardt of Richmond, BC, Ashley Brzozowicz of London, ON, Krista Guloien of Port Moody, BC, Andréanne Morin of Montreal, QC, Janine Hanson of Winnipeg, MB, Sandra Kisil of Ancaster, ON and Emma Darling of Burnaby, BC.
"It's an exciting time for women's rowing," said the eight's coach, John Keogh, who recently came to Rowing Canada from Australia via the British women's program. "The women have trained hard with (lead women's coach) Al Morrow the past winter and this shows we are moving in the right direction. It was a good race against quality opposition - I'm encouraged for this squad."
High Performance Director Peter Cookson agreed: "It's a confidence builder for this group of young women who are very motivated. It's still early days for as a crew, but today's race is a good indication of the potential they have."
Women's eights races first appeared at Henley in 1998. In 1999, it was decided to make this event into an open women's eights event, formally incorporated in the rules of the regatta and to be known as The Henley Prize. At the 2002 regatta the event became known as the Remenham Challenge Cup when the Henley Stewards accepted the gift of a trophy presented by the nearby Remenham Club in recognition of the support its founding clubs had given women's rowing and in memory of its past President, Mr. Ian Rogers, M.B.E.
This was the only Canadian crew in the finals today. This year's Henley had a total entry of 505 crews and included 116 overseas crews from 20 different nations.
More on the Henley Royal at the regatta web site:
The Canadian women's and men's senior teams now move to Switzerland to take place in the third - and arguably the most important - World Cup race of the year in Lucerne.