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07/13 2010

Royal Henley Regatta

If you could imagine stepping back in time, depending on where you look, 20 years, 50 years, some glances even 100 and more years. This is a time-warp regatta that can boggle an athlete’s mind much the same way the “Olympic Spotlight” can – only Henley’s older. There is a brief and interesting history of the regatta and the course on their website, but here are the nuts and bolts of what you need to know:

  1. Two boats face-off against each other, winner takes all, moving to the next round of races until a champion is crowned;
  2. The course is 2112 metres long and is rowed into the stream, so the race becomes very long in a headwind or after a decent rain;
  3. There are wooden booms chained to pillars that have been pile-driven into the river bed every 20 metres or thereabouts. If you hit the booms you are screwed – if you hit a pillar you are injured;
  4. The regatta is very popular with rowers, so many schools, clubs and countries come – but it is also a cultural experience because the regatta is also part of the British social class system. There is a huge cost to get into the “Steward’s Enclosure”, but then there are dress expectations once you are inside the enclosure. Men: Pants, Jacket and tie – don’t take that jacket off! Women: Dresses – nothing that divides your legs, and the dress must go past your knees. I thought that there was also a hat expectation, but it appears that hats are an optional sideshow.
  5. As popular as the regatta is to rowers, there is no loud cheering allowed. Clapping only from the Steward’s Enclosure.

Anyway, the first time here was with Brentwood College School in 1996.  Tony and Yvonne Carr coached (and mothered) us to the Princess Elizabeth Cup.  My second time was with Canada (UVic and VCRC) in 2003.  Mike and Anne Spracklen coached (and mothered) us to the Grand Challenge Cup.  Now, in 2010, with Canada (Shawnigan Lake and VCRC) Terry Paul is coaching us in the Steward’s Challenge Cup.  Our first round was against Argentina.  We advanced and face USA (Princeton T.C.) today at 5:10 PM over here – 9:10 AM in Victoria.
Well, wish me luck! And if you’re up you can always listen to the race on the internet!
Dave

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