Henley Royal Regatta has long been the most important event in the British rowing calendar with crews travelling from all over the world to compete. Spectators to the 2021 regatta witnessed the black and gold kit of York City proudly racing alongside the best crews the rowing world has to offer, including many competitors fresh off the plane from the Tokyo Olympics.
Firstly, our crews needed to qualify. The junior boys sent two crews down to Dorney Lake for the qualifying event of the Fawley Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls. 27 crews took part in a time trial with only the fastest five qualifying for the main regatta. The J16 4x of James, Benedict, Riley and Will put down an extremely respectable time but missed out on qualifying to the main event. Being two years younger than most of the crews we can expect to see them back in the future. The J18 4x of Jason, Harvey, Tom and James were one of the strongest crews of the day, with a very quick time winning them a place into the main draw.
Aidan Wilson and Freddy Orpin from the men’s senior squad joined forces with Sam Moloney (Leeds RC) and Dan Jones (University of York Boat Club) to form a composite crew aiming to qualify for the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls. A fast performance in the time trials saw them grab one of the eight qualifying places on offer.
Meanwhile, the junior girl’s quad of Josie, Daisy, Charley and Alannah were selected to pre-qualify straight into the main draw of the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cub for quadruple sculls. based on their outstanding performance all season.
Racing started at Henley on Wednesday 11th August 2021 and first in action was the Fawley Quad drawn against The King’s School, Worcester. York took an early lead but were pushed hard by the King’s School who kept contact with them throughout the course. York demonstrated their maturity and skill to maintain their lead, winning by 2/3 of a length and making it into Sir Matthew Pinsent’s ‘pick of the day’ roundup video.
Thursday saw the three YCRC crews in action.
The Fawley Quad’s next round was against London’s Lea Rowing Club. Both crews got off to a fast start but Lea were no strangers to high quality racing, with three of the crew previously representing GB at international competitions. The Lea crew nudged ahead but weren’t allowed an easy win with York sculling well and staying in sight. Lea won by a result of 2 ¼ lengths and were eventual semi-finalists.
In the Diamond Jubilee Challenge cup, the girls were drawn against a strong crew from St. Edward’s School. Both crews attacked off the start and halfway down the course were racing bowball to bowball. In the second half of the race, St Edwards pulled away to win by three lengths and were also eventual semi-finalists. Despite the loss, this historic quad is the first York City women’s boat ever to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta and is fantastic achievement which the club is very proud of.
The composite crew in the Prince of Wales Challenge cup were drawn in their first round against favourites Leander who included three members of the U23 GB squad. Leander pulled away but the northern crew kept their focus and kept in contact, losing out by just two lengths. Leander went on to progress comfortably through their later rounds and were overall winners of the event. A really strong performance from the composite crew making their mark against some seasoned international competitors.
At least ten former YCRC members also competed in the regatta. It was great to see so many rowers who had trained or learnt to row at York City competing at such a high level. Notable results included:-
- Katie Mole, rowing for Leeds RC, progressing to the quarter finals of the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for women’s singles.
- Lucy Edmunds – finalist in the Town Challenge Cup rowing for Leander
- Lauren Carey – part of the winning Leander crew of the Wargrave Challenge Cup
- James Reeder – part of the winning Thames Rowing Club crew of the Wyfold Challenge Cup
Congratulations to all the crews, and a thank you to all the coaches and supporters who made their success possible.