Every cloud has a silver lining, and that was certainly the case this year with Henley Women’s Regatta. Having won Senior 8’s last year, expectations were high for the repeat, and for the new depth in the squad to emulate the win in the Academic 8’s category.
In the semi finals of both Academic and Senior 8’s, Brookes wowed the spectators by producing the most entertaining semis of the regatta – a local derby in Academic 8’s against Oxford, and a full-on boxing match against Princeton, USA in Senior 8’s. To be on the wrong side of two canvas-losses, while hugely frustrating, certainly fuels the fire for next season’s summer projects – for the 1st VIII especially, losing the semi by the same margin as Sport Imperial in the final against event winners Princeton.
There were also very strong showings from the other Brookes crews competing – with the Senior Quad in particular showing how tough they were, rowing through a strong Nottingham crew in the first round, then just missing out on a semi final place against finalists Edinburgh.
The highlight of the weekend was Imogen Mackie bringing home the win in Senior Lightweight singles. A tough couple early rounds saw her through to the final against Suzie Perry from U.L. – with both scullers trading blows and bows through the body of the race, Imogen went for the line with 500 to go, coming home 3/4L in front. A fantastic third Henley Women’s medal for Imogen, following last year’s Senior 8’s victory.
The time turns to Henley Royal Regatta Qualifiers – with four crews already pre-qualified in three events, the attention was focussed on Brookes ‘C’ and ‘D’ in the Temple Challenge Cup, our Prince of Wales entry, and two crews in the Princess Grace for Intermediate Women’s 4x’s. Against strong gusting winds, Brookes ‘C’ gave a hearty performance to qualify into the Temple Cup. Brookes ‘D’ however found themselves up against it in the strong wind, frustratingly ending up as the 2nd-fastest non-qualifier by 2 seconds. The same result fell also on the Prince of Wales 4x, finding themselves similarly 2nd-fastest non-qualifier by 2 seconds. As is the case in an Olympic year, the competition is always that much stronger with many crews from every corner of the rowing world wanting to try their hand at Henley.
In the women’s squad, after a hugely gutsy row in very testing conditions, the Brookes women’s 1st VIII qualified for one of only eight spots in the Remenham Challenge Cup for Elite Women’s Eights – a fantastic achievement, and the first time this has been done by a fully-Brookes, fully-student crew. We now look forward to seeing the Women race against a crew from the Czech Republic on the Friday of Henley. The Women’s 2nd VIII, while not qualifying for the Remenham, certainly benefitted from the experience, as these girls will be looking to step up next year and challenge for places in the new season’s 1st VIII. In the Princess Grace, the fully-Brookes and Brookes-Maidenhead crews were virtually inseparable on time over the Qualifiers course, but were a few seconds of a qualifying spot.
With Henley Royal Regatta beginning tomorrow, we look forward to seeing Brookes ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ racing in the Temple, Brookes’ Prince Albert 4+ and the Brookes-Proteus composite in the Visitors on Thursday, with the women’s 1st VIII contesting the first round of the Remenham on Friday.
Photos by squad member Tom Asteriades