BROOKES|Rowing takes step into immortality after outstanding performances at Henley Royal Regatta
After qualifying 94 athletes to the regatta, across 15 crews, the stage was set for a phenomenal week of the highest quality racing against the best crews from around the world.
The week culminated in a record-breaking set of results with 7 wins out of 7 finals on Sunday. The first ever clean sweep of student events. A feat that was never fully planned nor its gravity comprehended at any point during the season. The largest ever trophy haul for the rowing club in the history of the regatta.
Finals day began with the Prince Albert Challenge Cup against the University of Washington. In a race for the ages, Brookes trailed for almost the entire course, however, Brookes rowed through from behind in spectacular fashion in front of the enclosures. This is the first time a club has ever retained the Prince Albert Challenge Cup.
What followed, in our view, can only be coined as Oxford Brookes’ version of the infamous “Super Saturday” from London 2012. In the space of 40 minutes, Brookes raced four times back-to-back in a bid for Henley glory.
The action kicked off again in one of the closest and most exhilarating races of the entire week. A showdown with Leander Club in the Ladies Challenge Plate. A race where crews traded blows the whole way down the track. Brookes led by ¾ a length approaching the last 200m. After a phenomenal charge from the Leander crew, they pushed the Brookes boat the whole way to the line in vain. The margin separating the two crews, a mere 3 feet.
Next up was the Stewards, which was made up of Brookes Rowing members who now race for the GB National Team. They won in one of only three Easily verdicts on Finals day.
In what was perhaps one of the most impressive performing crews of the week, Brookes then took on Leander again in the Visitors. A huge challenge was laid down by a Leander crew who again pushed Brookes the entire way down the course. However, Brookes held their nerve superbly, performing to the highest level under staggering amounts of pressure. A testament to the athletes, the program and the coaching team to get preparations so perfectly right in order to peak in time for the pinnacle of the season. Brookes crossed the line to win by a margin of 1 ¾ lengths, to take a clean sweep of the Intermediate Sweep events.
In the Temple, having overcome UW from the day before, raced a strong challenging crew from Syracuse. Despite a fast start from the opposition, Brookes held their nerve to claim their 6th Temple Challenge Cup in 9 years. The Temple was last retained 6 years ago to the day.
One of the standout crews from the entire regatta was the Brookes Women’s crew in the Island Challenge Cup. They raced aggressively throughout the week and met the University of Pennsylvania for the Final. In a race for the ages, after being led out the end of the island, the Brookes VIII started to establish a lead on the Bucks station through the middle of the race. However, after repeated challenges from the American crew, Brookes never broke clear and in the final metres more pressure was piled on. Brookes crossed the finish line ahead by only a canvas to regain the Island Challenge Cup. A truly remarkable achievement from the Brookes Women. The day’s achievements were aptly completed by the Brookes senior team athletes competing for GB in the Grand Challenge Cup who beat the Canadian National VIII in impressive style by the 3 lengths.
The scenes both on the river, on the towpath and boat tents will be forever etched in our memories. An outstanding achievement for absolutely every individual involved in the team this year. Brookes prides itself on performing to the highest possible level while enjoying an incredibly healthy and enjoyable environment for its athletes to experience and this was clear to see in the raw, unrivalled passion and emotion that was on show throughout the week. We are incredibly proud of every person who has helped get the club to this point in history – however, some huge thanks should be shown to the Director of Sport, Keith Kelly and his team at Brookes Sport for their unparalleled support.
This marks the end of the season for much of the team; however, a number look toward selection for the upcoming World and European Senior/U23 Championships. The Senior National team also compete at World Cup III this weekend.
Photos courtesy of AllMarkOne & Row360 camera📸