Henley Royal Regatta
29 June – 3 July 2016
Click here for race reports and photographs of all Leander crews at this year’s Regatta
Despite the absence of the club’s GB internationals at pre-Olympic training camps Leander athletes won four trophies this year at Henley.
The club’s top men’s quad won the Queen Mother Challenge Cup following a close-fought final against California Rowing Club.
The crews were neck and neck at the end of the island but Leander had taken a half-length lead by the barrier, increasing that to a length and a half by Fawley.
The Americans had closed the gap to half a length by Remenham Club but Leander put in a final surge and shot ahead, winning by two-and-a-half lengths.
“We came into this event really wanting to step up and challenge ourselves but didn’t initially expect to win. However, as we progressed through the regatta we started to believe that we could do it.” said their stroke, Andy Joel.
Two of the club’s most experienced athletes, Nick Middleton and Jack Beaumont, won the Double Sculls Challenge Cup after beating the Slovenian/Israeli duo of Gasper Fistravec and Dani Fridman by four-and-a-half lengths.
They had a two-and-a-half-length lead by Fawley and increased that over the final stretch. Afterwards, the pair moored up on the pontoon beside their opponents and greeted them with handshakes and hugs.
“I feel fantastic. There aren’t many better feelings than winning at Henley when you’ve grown up and lived your whole life in the area” said Beaumont.
Jess Leyden and Holly Nixon were members of a Leander/Reading composite that beat the Polish U23 quad to win the Princess Grace Challenge Cup.
They had a length’s lead at Remenham church but the Poles closed the gap by half a length near the enclosures. The British women redoubled their efforts, winning by a length.
Leyden, 21, who became Britain’s first ever junior women’s sculling champion in 2013, said: “I’m really pleased — it’s a great start to our Olympic cycle next year. We’re going to keep just as strong and just as tough but the Polish crew were tough competitors.”
Leander’s most controversial win came in the Ladies’ Plate where the Dutch students from Nereus crossed the line three feet clear but were later disqualified.
The Dutch crew led by half a length at the barrier and a length by Remenham farm but were warned several times for their steering. Nereus were later deemed to have interfered with Leander and their coach was signalling them from the umpire’s boat to move over, which is forbidden.
“Waiting for a decision on the result was among the hardest couple of hours of my life” said Leander 5 man Adam Neill.
“It’s been very emotional as we trained all year for this race and wanted to know what was happening as soon as possible. It’s not exactly how you want to win a race but the rules are the rules and I’m glad we won. Well done to Nereus for a great season and obviously well done to my teammates.”
Despite their best efforts Leander missed the chance to take a seventh consecutive win in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, after their A crew went down to the Schuylkill Navy High Performance Centre by just four feet.
In a the final of the Grand a GB U23 development crew, with four Leander men on board, lost to the Dutch Olympic eight, rowing as Hollandia Rowing Club.
Leander’s seventh appearance in the Henley finals was in the Remenham Challenge Cup where the GB development eight, rowing as Leander and Tees lost to Princeton Training Centre.
Despite the absence of their GB internationals at pre-Olympic training camp, Leander Club will be boating more than 50 athletes, contesting 12 events in 17 different crews at this year’s regatta.
Leander’s top boat is their Ladies’ Plate eight which beat Nereus, the Dutch student crew at the Holland Beker in Amsterdam three weeks ago. Nereus will also contest the Ladies’ Plate, where the Americans from Cal. Berkeley plus an East India/Martyrs composite are the only other entrants.
In the Remenham Challenge Cup for women’s eights an international development crew with four Leander athletes on board is set to fly the flag for GB against overseas opposition from the USA, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
In the club quad sculls event, where Leander has reigned supreme for the last six years, lightweight international Sam Mottram joins forces with Frazier Christie, Seb Devereux and Barney Stentiford in pursuit of a seventh successive victory in this event.
Andy Joel and Harry Leask, who helped win the Prince of Wales at last year’s regatta, have formed a new crew with Rowan Law and Harry Glenister, but the Stewards have required that they race the open international event, the Queen Mother Challenge Cup, where the cosmopolitan opposition comes from seven different countries.
In women’s quads former Leander captain Debbie Flood will stroke her club’s top crew in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup, where the line-up also includes Lucinda Gooderham, Emily Carmichael and Fran Rawlins. The GB lightweight women’s quad who took the silver medal at last year’s world championships are also competing, with Leander’s former world junior sculling champion Jess Leyden on board.
Leander will boat two crews in the Fawley Challenge Cup for junior quads, where their A crew includes Tom Mortimer, Tom Placidi, Ben Holt and Cameron Forsythe. To claim the trophy they will need to get past Claires Court School, who beat Leander at The Met and who hope to add the Fawley to wins at The Schools’ Head and National Schools’.
There‘s another strong international flavour to the Silver Goblets event for men’s pairs, where Phil Congdon and Sam Arnot fly the flag for Leander. Also racing are Leander vice-captain Callum McBrierty and his partner Ollie Cook of University of London, who will be looking to race the coxed pairs event at the world championships in Rotterdam in two months’ time.
The talented al-Leander GB double of Jack Beaumont and Nick Middleton continue their development on the international stage having made two World Cup finals so far this year. Their likely race against the Belgian lightweights, Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe, looks set to be one of the highlights of the regatta.
Leander’s Tom Barras, who won GB U23 trials a few weeks ago, has entered the Diamond Challenge Sculls where the top class field includes one of the few Olympians to enter this year’s Royal Regatta – Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand. The Kiwi sculler has form on his side as the defending title holder, with four previous wins at the event, and a gold medal at London 2012!