Four Boats Compete In Henley Women's Regatta This Weekend; Varsity Eight Stays For Royal Henley Regatta
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Members of the Yale women's crew will spend the next three weeks competing on one of the most famous courses in the world - the Thames River in Henley-on-Thames, England. Four Yale boats are entered in the Henley Women's Regatta which begins this weekend. The varsity eight will remain to participate in the Henley Royal Regatta from July 1-5.
"Rowing on the Henley race course is like playing baseball at Fenway Park," said Yale head coach Will Porter, who has competed at Henley and is taking the Bulldogs there for the third time. "It is sacred water. The legends of our sport have raced there."
At the Henley Women's Regatta, the Bulldogs will field boats in the elite eight, elite four with a coxswain, elite four without a coxswain and senior eight events. The races feature just two boats with only the winner advancing and are 1,500-meters in length, 500 shorter than what Yale is accustomed to.
Other aspects of the trip help make it memorable. Instead of hotels, the team and coaching staff stay in the homes of local residents and walk to the course. By the time of the last day of the Henley Royal Regatta, spectators are everywhere.
"The crowd lines the river bank and ties boats to the log boom on the outside edge of the course," Porter said. "In most races there is no crowd noise until the last 30 strokes. At Henley the noise is from start to finish. It is one of THE summer social events in the UK. On the last day, the walk to the boat tent that takes 10 minutes on a normal day will take 30 minutes because the crowd is so large the streets are literally jam packed with people."
In its last two visits to the Royal Regatta, Yale has lost in the semifinals. In 2001, the Bulldogs were knocked out by the Australian National team that went on to win the World Championship. In 2005, Yale caught a crab and suffered a heartbreaking loss to a British boat that had some national team rowers in it.
"This time we want to do better," Porter said. "But for our athletes this is an experience they will never forget. The formality, the pageantry and the travel with each other makes it the quintessential rowing experience. I think it is important that every athlete that rows at Yale has the opportunity to go to Henley. We are one of only three schools that do it regularly."
Yale Boatings For Henley Women's Regatta
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity