Leander Club put forward a record entry for this year’s HWR. Nine crews were entered along with two composite entries in both the women’s double and women’s pair. This was also the first time Leander had crews entered across all women’s Championship events.
This regatta was also the first opportunity for Leander athletes to welcome the support of new sponsors, the Colgan Foundation. Racing began on Friday with time trials for all crews. Leander crews all made it through to the knock out stages of racing. The women’s 8 raced off against Penn lightweights later in the afternoon and rowed to a convincing win.
Saturday morning saw the final of the time trials take place. This time it was the turn of three Leander Championship quads. With all three quads having qualified for the women’s Championship quadruple sculls it was inevitable that two crews would meet at some point. Friday afternoon provided a chance for Leander B and Leander C to face off against each other. Leander B came off the quicker on this occasion but only seconds separated both crews.
Quarter-final racing on Saturday went well for the Leander crews which led to seven crews needing to be ready for semi-finals on Sunday morning.
First up was the women’s 8. Facing off against Oxford Brookes A the development boat of Leander, aiming for the Wargrave Challenge cup at this year’s HRR, put up a good fight but missed out narrowly on progressing to the final.
The women’s composite double of Kathryn George and Vwairé Obukohwo (Twickenham Club), coached by Helen Brown, won their semi-final coming from behind to progress to the Final. Both athletes faced off against a GB development crew in the final and showed their strength and power to win overall.
The women’s composite pair of Abi Topp and Phoebe Snowden (University of London) progressed from the semi-finals after beating an Oxford crew who put up a valiant fight in the early stages of the race. In the final, two hours later, these women faced off against a UL/IC composite pair. This was going to be a battle of the aged out U23 athletes against the Leander/UL current U23 athletes. Phoebe and Abi raced well in the final but were unable to match the speed of the UL/IC crew. Both of these athletes now join forces with the U23 group to race at HRR.
Leander had four crews left – two in the Championship coxless fours event and two in the Championship quads event. All crews were on different sides of the draw so were never going to race off against each other in the semi-finals. Between 1330 and 1400 on Sunday Leander crews were racing in every race happening.
First up the quads, Leander B lined up against Molesey. The Leander women fought hard to make sure Molesey didn’t have it all their own way. However, Molesey were able to come away with the victory to progress to the final.
Next up Leander A lined up next to Thames A. The power of this Leander crew saw off Thames quickly to enable them to progress to the final.
Leander vs Molesey was the sculling race everyone was looking forward to watching. Molesey led briefly off the start, however they were no match for Leander A, who showed their power and determination through the middle of the race to row away to an overall victory of just over five seconds. Susie Dear, bow seat, commented after the race: “It’s really good to be back racing and winning at Henley Women’s Regatta with the Leander women’s squad.”
Finally, Leander had two crews in the championship coxless fours event. Leander B raced Durham whilst Leander A raced a Scottish composite crew. Leander A were unchallenged in the semi-final however the race of the day came from Leander B against Durham. Durham led the charge out of the blocks but were reeled in only for both crews to go toe to toe down the 1500m race track. Durham took the semi-final win by 0.5 of a second.
These semi-final results set up Leander’s last race of the day. With Durham on Bucks and Leander on Berks both crews got off to a fast start. At the end of the island Leander started to inch ahead with their length and power showing through over the whole track to take an overall win of 10 seconds.
Women’s Chief Coach Ross Hunter said: “I am extremely proud of all of our Leander athletes this weekend. These results are the culmination of a hard winter’s training and I couldn’t be happier for them all. As a club we are grateful to Henley Women’s staff and volunteers for again putting on a brilliant event this year. I am also pleased that this was the first opportunity we could showcase the Colgan foundation who are our new club sponsors.”
The leading Leander Club women will travel to Amsterdam this weekend for the Holland Becker before returning to join the full men’s and women’s squad for Henley Royal Regatta 2023.
Crew announcements for HRR will be made shortly.