RECORDS ARE BEING BROKEN AT HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA
This quintessentially British sporting event that attracts thousands of guests from every corner of the globe, returns again in 2019 and will be bigger than ever before. Not only is Henley’s Royal Regatta celebrating its 180-year anniversary in 2019 but a record amount of entries, as 660 competitors will grace the River Thames this year, which is nearly 100 more than the benchmark set in 2018.
Of the 660 entries, 159 are overseas crews representing 17 nations and approximately 1900 athletes. The high volume of entries only stresses the events popularity and high acclaim, and with so many international entries, spectators can expect the finest and strongest crews to be competing head-to-head for Regatta’s trophies. Unfortunately, half of the entrants will not be competing at the main event but will be heading home after the qualifiers due to the competitions tight schedule.
After 100 years, the King’s Cup returns to the Royal Regatta, where for the first time in Regatta history, male and female military athletes will row together in the same boat. As the military works hard to address diversity and embrace gender inclusivity, it is both exciting and commendable of the Royal Regatta to include mixed crew racing. It demonstrates the power sport has in breaking down barriers and making positive social change.
The King’s Cup, which commemorates the Centenary of the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta will also see some old champions return to Henley. Rowing crews from the original six nations of the UK, USA, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be joined by the Netherlands and Germany, to compete in knock-out races over the final three days of the competition. This year, Saudi Arabia will also be entering the Regatta for first time! What new faces will we see next year in 2020? An extensive amount of international entries will only strengthen this already highly-competitive event.
Also back to defend their title this year, is St. Pauls, who were last year’s record-breakers in The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. In 2018, the boys annihilated the regatta course record by 11 seconds to win in a time of 6:06 – a truly spectacular achievement. They face some tough opposition this year, as the likes of Eton, Radley and U.S.A. crews from St. Joseph’s Prep School and Kent School compete but that won’t stop the boys from aiming to do one better.
Mahé Drysdale is also returning to Henley’s Royal Regatta this year as a six-times winner of The Diamond Challenge Sculls, after equalling Stuart Mackenzie’s record in 2018. He is likely to be challenged by Kjetil Borch, who started out in front during the 2018 finals of the Diamond Challenge Sculls before being overtaken by Drysdale. It was a surprising comeback and a gracious victory for the Australian, though Borch will definitely be looking to secure the title in 2019. Drysdale will compete in two events this year – no doubt as a ploy to go one step further and lay down a new record.
This year, Henley’s Royal Regatta is set to be as exhilarating and as timeless as the last. Against a backdrop of celebratory ambience and sporting extravaganza – records, races and rivalries will unravel. The Royal Regatta boasts a rowing event like no other and spectators can expect a bold display of racing as old champions and new contenders go head-to-head for the trophy. If you weren’t quick enough in getting tickets or hospitality packages in 2019, be sure to book yours for the 2020 regatta – rowing’s never looked so good.