Reading University had five crews aiming for qualification for Henley Royal Regatta. Three men’s quads racing in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup and two women’s quads racing in the Princess Grace. Due to injury, one of the women’s quads unfortunately had to scratch and there was a reshuffle of competitors within the first one. Despite this, strong quads from both genders took to the water on the Friday before Henley to race over the regatta course and try to gain one of the rare qualification spots.
There were five available qualification spots in the elite women’s quads event known as the Princess Grace Challenge Cup. Anna Smart, Amy Fuller, Francesca Bratt and Louretta Grove rowed well but struggled in the severe headwind that got steadily stronger throughout the afternoon. In a top event such as this, they achieved a competitive time, less than 30 seconds off the fastest non-qualifier which is impressive for a young university crew.
There were seven available qualification spots in the senior quads event, the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup. Twenty crews were battling over these spots, three of which were Reading University crews. The ‘A’ crew of Olly Dix, Sam Twine, Dom Tope and Simon Williamson sculled very well and managed to qualify their boat. A very impressive feat in such a top-end event. The ‘B’ quad of Franklin Hamilton, James Mackins, Jacob Chapman and Corey Mcdowell and the ‘C’ quad of James Everett, Jack Gibson, Jack Radford and Tom Barak both raced well, not coping quite as well in the wind. They both missed out on qualifying but will have learned plenty and gained valuable race experience.
As the only Reading University crew who succeeded in qualifying, Olly Dix, Sam Twine, Simon Williamson and Dom Tope then waited until Wednesday evening to receive the news that they had drawn an international crew in the following days’ heat. Rudern, Tennis und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen and Akademischer Ruder Club zu Münster was a composite crew from Germany. The two boats took to the water for their race at 3.10. Reading put in a rapid start, looking very neat and managed to hold their lead through the barrier, in a very quick time. As one of the selected crews, the German composite was very tough opposition and they slowly began to edge their way back on Reading using international race experience. Reading were down just over a length coming into Fawley but were sculling well. They put in a huge push and moved up on the German crew, very exciting for the spectators gathered on the tow path. Unfortunately, the extra weight and power inside the German crew meant they were able to respond to every push Reading made. The final verdict was 1 ¼ lengths in one of the fastest heat times. Very well done to Reading University, some exceptional racing.