Henley Royal Regatta has received a record number of entries, with 629 crews entered across twenty events. The number smashes the previous record, which stood at 552 in 1998. International entries have also rocketed, with 165 foreign crews racing compared to 2012’s record of 133. In a year of broken records, the regatta will receive crews from across the world in a full program of racing across five days.
The Grand Challenge Cup sees seven entrants from seven nations, with the Dutch national eight coming up against boats from Italy, Spain, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and the USA. In the Remenham, the Dutch are once again the pick of the bunch with strong entrants from Princeton University, the Czech Republic and the US U23 squad. The Ladies Plate is one of a limited number of categories with less entrants than last year, as Temple Challenge Cup winners Nereus take on Leander Club, the University of California’s second Varsity crew and East India Club & Martyrs Boat Club.
Moving across the eights categories, the Thames Challenge Cup is fiercely contested by crews from Germany, Switzerland, China, Ireland and the USA, along with strong domestic entries from holders Thames Rowing Club, Quintin Boat Club and Upper Thames Rowing Club.
The Temple Challenge Cup will play host to a staggering 73 crews, with Oxford Brookes looking to claim the title they won in 2014. The student powerhouse have four eight entered, whilst the University of London ‘A’ finished second at the Metropolitan Regatta. Columbia, winners of the Varsity Lightweight title at the IRA State Championships, will be strong contenders from the USA whilst St Petersburg of Russia are regular attendees at Henley Royal Regatta. The PA promises great racing, as it did last year, and Edinburgh University look particularly impressive, having won Elite Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta.
The PE will see Westminster attempt to take the domestic triple, but they’ll face stern competition from Eton College, Radley College, Shiplake College and St Paul’s. Melbourne Grammar School and a smattering of US boats will provide the foreign interest.
The Stewards’ Challenge Cup will see Holland’s Olympic four, world champions in 2013, go up against a selection of U23 crews from Germany, Austria and the UK, whilst the Visitors’ Challenge Cup hosts boats from Australia, Holland, France, Switzerland and the USA. Britain’s home interest comes in the form of a number of tasty composites and semi-finalists from last year, Newcastle University.
With a massive 62 entries, the Wyfold Challenge Cup will provide some of the regatta’s best racing. Highlights include boats from Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland whilst the Tideway Scullers School will attempt to secure a title that they’ve come close to in the previous two years. The Britannia Challenge Cup was dominated by Sydney Rowing Club last year, and word is that the Sport Imperial combination is strong this year. Other names to look out for are Stratford-upon-Avon BC, Thames Rowing Club and Rudern, Tennis und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen, Germany.
The Queen Mother Challenge Cup for open quadruple sculls sees a record entry, with strong entries from Denmark, Canada, Germany and Leander Club. The Great Britain lightweight quad is racing under a Leander/Oxford Brookes banner. 25 crews contest the Princess Grace, with a fantastic depth on show from British representation.
The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup again demonstrates the strength of student and club sculling, with eight universities featured. Leander are the holders, but it’ll be a tall ask to retain their title in the face of strong opposition from Oxford Brookes, Edinburgh and Durham & the Tideway Scullers School.
As always, the Fawley is heavily oversubscribed as Claire’s Court aim to win the sculling equivalent of the triple. The Windsor Boys School finished second at the National Schools’ Regatta and made the final in 2014, whilst Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 e.V. ‘A’ were knocked out on the Saturday last year. The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup continues to grow as an event, with Warrington, Shiplake Vikings, Headington and Glasgow Schools all eyeing the top prize.
Some of the best entries come in the smaller boats, with the Dutch pairing of Braas and Steenman concluding their European tour at Henley. They’ll be favourites ahead of Greek and British pairings.
The double sculls comes down to a dogfight between Leander Club, with Nick Middleton and Jack Beaumont, against the Belgium lightweight double. Mahe Drysdale returns to Henley to try and claim his sixth Pineapple cup, but will have Hannes Obreno and Nathan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk for company. Saiyidah Mohamed Rafa’ee is the favourite for the Princess Royal Challenge Cup, with Sam Casto and Lisa Scheenaard vying for weekend finishes.