It's Henley, Dah-ling!

As always, RRC was out in its most fashionable race wear on Saturday for the Australian Henley regatta. The regatta has been held in Melbourne since 1903 and is based on the format of the Royal Henley Regatta in England. The format involves knock out rounds of two crews racing side-by-side from 800m down to the judge’s box.
Although Richmond’s participation in the event has been light in recent years, Saturday the club had representation from Ray Dennis in the Men’s Masters 8+ and from Geraldine Goss in the Women’s Masters 8+, while fielding a full crew of tigers in the Women’s C8+.
In the women’s C grade racing, an earlier heat saw a strong LaTrobe Uni crew smash Melbourne RC for a spot against our own Tigresses in the Women’s C final. With no warm up row, but no tiredness from earlier racing, the draw was a mixed blessing for Richmond. After a very strong start, RRC was out in front by nearly half a length before settling into the race at a rating of 39. Holding a strong lead with no sign of tiring, our tigers approached Swan St bridge (a little over half way) with every reason to be optimistic. Coming through the bridge, however, the Richmond boat failed to lift and the LaTrobe crew was suddenly gaining water on them. Holding it together and keeping composure was key for our ladies, but it was very close coming through the finish. Cox Mike Numa announced to the crew that we’d lost, when cries from the bow pair of Kate Dyball and Rochelle Stokes argued that we’d been in front coming over the line. Several seconds of confusion followed until coach Simon Crunden confirmed the win from his position on the bank. Then there were smiles all round! Despite the win, LaTrobe had given us something to think about for this weekend’s State Championship contest.

In the masters eight events, RRC was represented by Geraldine Goss in Executive Challenge Cup (ladies eights) and Ray Dennis in the International Challenge Cup (men’s eights). Gerry stroked her long standing masters crew (defending 2013 champions)  which included rowers from MUBC and Essendon Rowing Club.  The crew was victorious in the heat over  Yarra Yarra , and in the final against a strong Melbourne Rowing Club crew (ah, MRC, the crew we most love to beat…).  Ray rowed with his own long standing eight, a men’s H crew with an average age of over eighty. While Ray is a youngster in the crew, the range of ages was up to 91, with many rowers over eighty. With five boats in the event one crew was always going to have to row three times, and unfortunately this composite eight was that crew. After a very strong showing in the first heat against MUBC the ‘Ancient Mariners’ were then victorious against a younger Powerhouse crew in the second knockout heat. In the final, however, the tiring composite crew were narrowly pipped by a strongly finishing younger MUBC crew. Rumour has it that they jumped their handicap but there is no actual proof to that…just rumour… believe what you will!
Following the racing, the crews celebrated by drinking champagne (or water for those on Feb Fast) complete with strawberries – after all, it’s Henley! At the presentations, crews were rewarded with beautiful silver cups bearing the Henley crest and engraved with the regatta name. At first glance, they seemed perfect for holding champagne… Gerry was highly encouraged to drink from her crew’s ENORMOUS trophy, however it was reclaimed by the officials only minutes after receiving it. Darn.
All in all, a successful day for Richmond!

Authors: Lindsey Brown and Geraldine Goss