A sensational finals day at Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) 2022 saw 23 course records equalled or broken and both familiar and new names on the podium.
Leander Club came away with the most wins, picking up four trophies, including their composite entry with Twickenham RC in the W. Peer Cup for double sculls. Shiplake College repeated their 2021 win in the Bea Langridge Trophy for junior quadruple sculls, as did Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association’s Olivia Bates in the Godfrey Rowsports Trophy for championship lightweight single sculls.
But there were also some clubs standing on the podium for the first time. Globe RC won the Nina Padwick Trophy for J16 quadruple sculls after reaching their first-ever final, beating Henley RC ‘B’. Surrey University’s win in the Frank V Harry Cup for development coxed fours was the club’s first crew boat victory at HWR.
Globe coach Maurice Coughlan said his young crew of 14 and 15-year-olds had all started rowing over Zoom during the 2020 lockdown, and had first got in a boat at Easter 2021. HWR was their first major event.
“We’ve been coming to HWR since 2008 and we’ve had many crews get to the quarter-finals, but never further than that,” Coughlan said.
“They all wanted to find something to do during lockdown, and they found Globe RC and we were able to offer them Zoom sessions which were an incredible godsend for everybody,” he added. Coughlan revealed the crew had spent their travelling time to and from Henley studying for exams, and would be sitting GCSEs straight after the regatta.
Surrey cox Eleanor Hamilton-Davies explained her crew did not expect to reach the final against Bristol University.
“We had imposter syndrome, we didn’t really think we could do it early on,” she said, adding that it was her first HWR and middle pair – Ellen Green and Ciara Stirrat – had only begun rowing in September when they started at university.
Coach Sam Tuck said: “It’s huge for the programme. It’s an event that we’ve wanted to win for a few years now.”
The closest race of the regatta was the final of the Lester Trophy for club coxless fours, in which Vesta RC beat London RC by only four feet.
Vesta also reached the final of the Copas Cup for club eights, falling to their neighbours Thames by ¾ of a length. Vesta women’s head coach Leigh Curtis Green said the results showed the strength of women’s rowing on Putney Embankment, adding that the quality of racing at HWR had been “outstanding”.
The regatta ended with a superb performance by Brown University (USA) to win the Ron Needs Trophy for championship eights, beating University of London. Brown became the first crew to break 4 minutes 30 seconds for the HWR course, with their winning time of 4:28.4 six seconds quicker than the previous record.
They were one of five international crews to win a trophy, as victories also went to crews from Australia and the Netherlands.