Henley Women's Regatta 2018 was a very successful weekend for the club, given the fact we entered 18 of our best female athletes, double our previous record entry (2017). We entered three categories this year, the aspirational academic coulees four (AA4-), who raced in catalyst, a boat generously donated by John Browne (club founder and honorary club captain). We also entered an aspirational academic eight (AA8+) who raced in Lammergeier, a boat kindly donated by recent alumni. Finally, the development four (D4+), made up of some of this years novice women, racing in the brand new category aimed at giving those new to the sport a chance to race at Henley.
As is usual, competition at HWR started early on the Friday morning, two days after the squad arrived down South for valuable training along the Henley stretch. Our AA8+ was our first boat to time trial down the course, achieving a time of 4:57.0. This unfortunately put them just 3.2 seconds off qualification time, in what was a highly highly competitive category. This highly varied crew in terms of experience and nationality was made up of: Becks Konijnenberg, Julia Marache, Charlie Deacon, Isabel Hesse, Anna Trebacz, Morgan Hartley, Alice Thompson, Emily Haworth and coxed by Sarah Hoke.
Alongside the AA8+ was the D4+, who raced in the time trial with a time of 5:40.5. This was eleven seconds off qualifying pace, which is an admirable result given one of the most competitive categories in HWR history (only 16 crews to qualify out of 43!) The crew was made up of: Alice Hedley, Morgan Young, Chirstina Polson, Marissa McMahon and Holly Bartlett.
Last but by no means least we had the AA4-, who took to the course for their time trail. They achieved a time of 5:02.9, placing them 6th in the time trial, solidly within the qualification group. They progressed to the first round where they faced Birmingham University Boat Club, whom they beat very comfortably by 4 lengths. This result was down to a superb crew commitment and experience, the stroke seat Hannah Myatt, has been in every Henley Women's Boat for the past three years.
Having defeated Birmingham, the ladies moved on to race on the Saturday and face our traditional Scottish rivals Edinburgh. Having faced the same crew two weeks prior, at Scottish Championships, our girls knew they were going in as the underdogs, but with typical saints grit and confidence, they pushed Edinburgh to the line, falling just short by a length and a half. Congratulations has to go to this crew, who moved all the way through to the final.
What was particularly special about HWR 2018, was the outstanding support from parents and alumni on the bank and across the globe. This lead to a resounding sense of community and made the weekend even more special. It is very exciting that now parents and supporters may join alumni in membership of Eden Boat Club, another way to stay in touch with the club, our development and achievements.
Thanks have to go to, as per usual, our Director of Rowing, Iain Rice, who coached all of our crews as well as transporting the boats down South and for his consistency in driving the girls and the programme forward. Thank you also to our current President, Matt Taylor, for his coaching support for the AA8+ and the D4+, both of which saw huge leaps forward in their progression under his watchful eye, although we hope he'll be back steering soon enough!
Henley Women's Regatta represents the end of the club season for the majority of our female athletes. This year has been a particularly special one for the senior women, with the top 50 broken at WeHoRR, BUCS points and 3 medals at the BUCS Regatta and national representation (still to come!) Despite some of our central rowers graduating, next year looks set to be another promising season with huge potential coming up from the novice squad and their vital experience gained through Henley and the high level of competition they experienced.