West London rowers in action at Henley

West London rowers are out in force at Henley Royal Regatta, which gets under way on Wednesday, with clubs, schools and students in action on day one and internationals joining the fray at the weekend.

“I loved racing here. I loved the crowds and the gladiatorial style of racing,” said Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-times Olympic champion who is the new chairman of the regatta this year.

“We certainly have some headline international racing to relish this year but I’m also pleased at the level of club, school, college and university entries.”

Thames Rowing Club are hotly tipped to win their first men’s eights title since 1948, having reached the semi-finals in each of the last four years. Their rivals from the Putney Embankment, Sport Imperial, are also looking to improve on last year, when they were beaten finalists.

Westminster School will look to win Henley’s school eights event for the first time after a dominant season under their coach Bill Mason, including the National Schools Regatta eights title in May. St Paul’s School are among their main rivals.

Thames RC and Chiswick-based Tideway Scullers School are among the favourites in the club coxed fours event, the Britannia Challnge Cup.

Based just upstream from Chiswick Bridge, the University of London won their opening race early on Wednesday and have their eyes on the Temple Challenge Cup for student eights.

As ever, large crowds are expected to watch the action in soaring temperatures which could lead Redgrave to allow gentlemen to remove their jackets in the exclusive Stewards’ Enclosure. This has only happened three times in the last 39 years.

For the first time since 1967, the Regatta will be broadcast live – on the event’s YouTube channel – and the BBC will cover the event on the Red Button and website on Sunday’s finals day.

Martin Gough writes rowing blog The Rowlup

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