The Boat Club Boy’s Henley Hopes

A group of eight rowers and one cox from the University of Leeds have been putting their years worth training to the test.

Henley Royal Regatta is one of the most prestigious rowing events in the world attracting thousands of visitors every year. 2018 provides no exceptions with the third highest number of entries on record competing over five days. Over 100 international crews competed beside another 454 from across the UK, all searching for victory.

As visitors descended on the small town so did UOLBC in their bid for the Temple Challenge Cup. This particular event had 55 entries, from a whole range of clubs. Competition is incredibly tough with top crews from universities, colleges and schools all fighting for one of 32 places in the main event.  

After a successful early regatta season and a win at Peterborough Regatta the senior men’s squad have been working hard all year in preparation. 

With a crew made up from medics, mathematicians and engineers the boys had to work hard to fit their training in around exams and university life. Once the semester came to an end they threw themselves into full time training. One of the boys described the training:

‘It’s like a job but more work and more fun. We have to get up early most mornings to fit in a session before lectures and things start. Normally after a full day of uni we usually fit in another 1 or 2 shorter sessions in the afternoon to build up our fitness, working rowing specific muscles and improving our cardiovascular fitness. It’s great because we get to complete all our training as a team and that means there’s never a dull moment.’

With the whole crew committed to the Henley dream the rowers had been training three times a day. Working hard over the past few months the boys aimed to get into the best physical condition possible. To prepare they had been completing training out on the water at the boathouse to work on technique as well as working in our S&C Gryphon Room to improve their strength and mobility.

On the 23rd of June the team headed down Dorney Lake for Marlow Regatta to compete against other university crews in the Accademic 8+ category. Much of the competition they faced have been rowing from a very young age. However, half of our men’s crew has been formed by individuals only in their second or third year of rowing after having learnt at university. For these individuals to be competing at such a high level and standard of rowing is an outstanding achievement. Having the boys racing against other crews with many years of experience and practice there was going to be some tough competition.

The boys powered through their time trial to place them in the B Final, narrowly missing out on A Finals. Their final proved to be an exciting battle down the two kilometre course. With only milliseconds in it the boys managed to power through to finish in 1st place.

At this point the marshals had to make a decision on letting crews pre-qualify for Henley, meaning they avoid extra time trials the week after. However, they were particularly picky this year and so the boys stepped back to their training in preparation for their next race on the 29th of June which would make or break the Henley dream.

As qualifiers crept closer the boys got more and more anxious with only a few spaces left for the taking it was all to play for. They found themselves surrounded by 34 other eager crews that arrived from across the globe. Unfortunately, as the boys set off on their time trial the nerves began to get the better of them. Crews that Leeds had beaten only a week previously and throughout the season began to creep up the leader-board which unluckily for our boys meant they missed out on a place.

However it’s not all disappointment and frowns from the team as they still managed to have an amazing season. Coach Dan was proud of his team’s progress:

‘The club have done fantastically well to get this close to Henley. We have not been anywhere near the standard over the past few years so this is a great achievement for the boys. They should all be incredibly proud of their hard work. Seeing such strong development of the club and an increase in commitment, to what can be an incredibly challenging sport, is wonderful. I’m confident in the crew to make it further in the competition next year.’